Jim Harbaught probably doesn't have so much of a problem with Clay Matthews as he is devoted to protecting his quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh played the position. He's seen how one hit can change a season or a career and he clearly would not like Clay Matthews' flying out of bounds clothesline hit to become a theme in the next 16 weeks.
After Matthews drew a flag for his late hit, 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley drew a flag for shoving Matthews. However, what the officials on the field didn't see was the two punches thrown at Staley's head. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino saw it, said that Staley should not have been flagged and that the Niners should have been awarded the ball for a first and goal at the two-yard line. Instead, the officials called offsetting penalties and proceeded to incorrectly give the Niners another third and goal from the 10. Ultimately, karma won out and Kaepernick threw a touchdown from the 10 thanks to the officials' offsetting mistakes.
Harbaugh saw the hit as well. At his press conference on Monday, Harbaugh channeled legendary boxing analyst Larry Merchant, bloviated about Matthews' punch like he was ringside at HBO Fight Night and even offered him some advice on perfecting his form.
"That young man works very hard on being a tough guy," the 49ers coach said of Matthews. "He'll have some repairing to do on his image after that slap."
Harbaugh made fun of how Matthews grappled with San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley after the linebacker's late hit on Kaepernick and the subsequent skirmish. The NFL since has admitted Staley shouldn't have been penalized.
"I looked at it with my own eyes, and I saw two punches thrown to Joe's head. Well, one punch and one open slap. Which if you're gonna go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap," Harbaugh said.