Above left, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is tackled by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews as he runs out of bounds during Sunday’s game. Above right San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh yells at line judge Mark Perlman after Kaepernick was tackled.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jim Harbaugh offered a parting shot at Packers linebacker Clay Matthews: Slapping is not the tough-guy way.
Harbaugh said Monday that Matthews threw one punch and slapped 49ers left tackle Joe Staley when they tussled following Matthews’ late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second quarter of San Francisco’s 34-28 season-opening win against Green Bay on Sunday.
“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap,” Harbaugh said. “I think if that young man works very hard on being a tough guy, he’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”
Matthews promised leading up to the game that Green Bay would target Kaepernick after he ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards to beat the Packers in the playoffs eight months ago, and Matthews did just that. On the play, he threw his right arm around the lower part of Kaepernick’s neck.
“Like I said last week, usually a man will tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. That certainly was a cheap shot, launching, clotheslining to the neck-head area,” Harbaugh said. “Bad play.”
While Matthews was flagged for a late hit, Staley received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that Harbaugh didn’t think was right.
Staley immediately came to Kaepernick’s defense on the play. The penalties were offset and the 49ers scored on the next play, which officials later said should have been fourth down rather than a repeated third down.
The NFL said Monday that a review showed Staley should not have been penalized.
“After reviewing the play, Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino determined that Joe Staley should not have been penalized,” spokesman Randall Liu said in an email. “It should have been first-and-goal for the 49ers from the Green Bay 3-yard line.”
“That’s what I saw,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh praised referee Bill Leavy and his crew, and said San Francisco would have gone for it on fourth down anyway.
“First of all, it never should have been offsetting penalties, in my opinion,” Harbaugh said. “All in all, there’s a lot of things going on in that stretch. The other one was the entire Packers bench cleared, practice squad players, coaches. Members of the Green Bay Packers are all out of their bench area down along the goal line. There was no repercussion for that as well.”
While Staley said after the game he needs to control his emotions, he insists he will defend his quarterback in a case like that.
Harbaugh said it’s rather simple when coaching a situation like that.
“When guys are going at each other after the whistle, and looking to push and shove people, just lock up, protect yourself,” he said. “Not going to back down from it, we’re not going to get pushed all around after the whistle when it’s not being called, when the first offense is not being called. You have to have a plan. For us, it’s not to go pushing and throwing punches, it’s to lock up and protect yourself. And Joe did that about as well as you could do it. If you call somebody for that then you’re going to have 30 flags, 30 times. That’s happening all the time in our league after the whistle.”
Also Sunday, Harbaugh had to change his game-day attire at halftime from Reebok to Nike. He said he could be subject to a fine.
“That was a mistake, grabbed the wrong one,” Harbaugh said. “It was an honest mistake, there was no malice intended. It won’t happen again.”
—Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, was 27 for 39 for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdown passes in San Francisco’s 34-28 victory over Green Bay.
—Drew Brees, Saints, was 26 for 35 for 357 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception in New Orleans’ 23-17 win over Atlanta. It was Brees’ sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game, tied with Steve Young in 1998, Kurt Warner in 2000 and Rich Gannon in 2002 for the second-longest streak in NFL history.
—Matthew Stafford, Lions, finished 28 for 43 for 357 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception in Detroit’s 34-24 victory over Minnesota.
—Russell Wilson, Seahawks, was 25 for 33 for 320 yards and a touchdown in Seattle’s 12-7 win over Carolina.
—Terrelle Pryor, Raiders, was 19 of 29 for 217 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and had 112 yards rushing in Oakland’s 21-17 loss to Indianapolis.
—Eli Manning, Giants, was 27 for 42 for 450 yards with four touchdown passes and three interceptions in New York’s 36-31 loss to Dallas.
—Shane Vereen, Patriots, had 14 carries for 101 yards in New England’s 23-21 win over Buffalo.
—Adrian Peterson, Vikings, finished with 18 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota’s 34-24 loss to Detroit. He had a 78-yard scamper for the longest touchdown run on a player’s first carry of a season since the 1970 merger. He has 8,942 yards for the third-most by a player in the first 90 games of a career. Peterson trails Eric Dickerson (9,915) and Jim Brown (9,322).
—Reggie Bush, Lions, had 21 carries for 90 yards and added four receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 34-24 win over Minnesota.
—Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, had 16 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown in Kansas City’s 28-2 win over Jacksonville.
—Anquan Boldin, 49ers, had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in San Francisco’s 34-28 win over Green Bay.
—A.J. Green, Bengals, had nine catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati’s 24-21 loss to Chicago.
—Jared Cook, Rams, finished with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns in St. Louis’ 27-24 victory over Arizona.
—Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers, had seven catches for 154 yards in Tampa Bay’s 18-17 loss to the New York Jets.
—Jerome Simpson, Vikings, had seven catches for 140 yards in Minnesota’s 34-24 loss to Detroit.
— Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, Giants. Cruz had five catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns, Nicks had five catches for 114 yards and Randle had five catches for 101 yards in New York’s 36-31 loss to Dallas.
— Jordy Nelson, Packers, had seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s 34-28 loss to San Francisco.
—Brian Hartline, Dolphins, finished with nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in Miami’s 23-10 victory over Cleveland.
—Greg Zuerlein, Rams, was 4 for 4 on field goals, including a 48-yarder with 40 seconds left to send St. Louis to a 27-24 victory over Arizona.
—Nick Folk, Jets, was 3 for 3 on field goals and kicked a 48-yarder with 2 seconds left in New York’s 18-17 win over Tampa Bay.
—Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots, kicked a 35-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in New England’s 23-21 victory over Buffalo. He went 3 for 3 on the day.
—Robbie Gould, Bears, set a franchise record with a 58-yard field goal in Chicago’s 24-21 win over Cincinnati.
—Da’Norris Searcy, Bills, returned a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown in Buffalo’s 23-21 loss to New England.
—Tamba Hali, Chiefs, returned an interception 10 yards for a touchdown in Kansas City’s 28-2 win over Jacksonville.
—Dan Williams, Cardinals, returned an interception 2 yards for a touchdown in Arizona’s 27-24 loss to St. Louis.
—Brandon Carr and Barry Church, Cowboys. Carr returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown and Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in Dallas’ 36-31 win over the Giants.
—Justin Houston, Chiefs, had three sacks in Kansas City’s 28-2 victory over Jacksonville.
—Robert Quinn, Rams, had three sacks and two forced fumbles in St. Louis’ 27-24 victory over Arizona.
—Cameron Wake and Dimitri Patterson, Dolphins. Wake had 2½ sacks and Patterson had two interceptions in Miami’s 23-10 win over Cleveland.
—Charles Tillman, Bears, had two interceptions in Chicago’s 24-21 victory over Cincinnati.
STREAKS & STATS
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady improved to 11-1 in season openers, the best record among quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era. The Patriots won their 10th straight season opener with a 23-21 victory at Buffalo. That ties Portsmouth/Detroit (1930-39) for the NFL’s third-longest streak. ... The Bills dropped to 1-19 in their past 20 meetings against the Patriots. They are 3-24 in 27 games since Bill Belichick took over as Patriots coach in 2000. The Bills have lost 14 of their past 20 openers, and dropped to 21-33 overall. ... Colts receiver Reggie Wayne passed Steve Largent for No. 13 on the NFL’s career list for yards receiving. Wayne has 13,159. Largent had 13,089. ... Atlanta has lost seven of eight in New Orleans since Sean Payton became the Saints coach and lost a season opener to New Orleans for the first time after winning the first six. ... The Cleveland Browns lost their ninth straight opener and fell to 1-14 in Week 1 since 1999.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick earned his 206th career win to move one ahead of Marty Schottenheimer for sixth place on the NFL list. ... Marc Trestman was a winner in his debut as Bears coach as Chicago rallied past Cincinnati. ... Saints receiver Marques Colston set a franchise record with his 533rd catch in New Orleans’ 23-17 win over Atlanta. ... Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger became the 35th quarterback over 30,000 yards passing. ... The Chiefs opened the season with a 28-2 victory over the Jaguars. The last time Kansas City won its opener by such a wide margin was 1963, a 59-7 victory against Denver. ... Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has led his team to eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since he entered the league as a rookie in 2012. That total is the most through a player’s first 17 games by any quarterback that began his career since the 1970 merger.
The first score of the full opening day of the NFL season was a safety. Before long, there were two more safeties in first quarters of games, equaling the most in Week 1 in league history. The Tennessee Titans’ season began in reverse when they gifted the Steelers two points on the first play when kick returner Darius Reynaud took a knee in the end zone. According to the NFL, it was the first safety on an opening kickoff since 1988, when the New York Giants got one at Dallas. Jacksonville soon joined the party, blocking a punt on visiting Kansas City’s first possession. The ball ricocheted through the end zone for a safety. Moments later at the Meadowlands, the Jets went up 2-0 on the Buccaneers when Josh Freeman couldn’t handle the snap on third-and-5 from the 8. The football squirted into the end zone, and Freeman went chasing after it. Seeing Antwan Barnes about to fall on it for a potential touchdown, Freeman kicked the ball out of the end zone for a safety. The last time three safeties occurred in the opening week was in 1999. It also happened in 1993 and 1970.
The first Sunday of the NFL season was a costly one for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey ripped up his right knee and linebacker Larry Foote ruptured his biceps during Pittsburgh’s 16-9 home loss to Tennessee, likely sidelining both players for the rest of the season. ... Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert cut the back of his right hand on a defender’s face mask in the closing minutes of a 28-2 loss to Kansas City and needed 15 stitches. He threw two interceptions while playing with a hairline fracture in his right thumb. ... Carolina lost starting right guard Garry Williams to a left knee injury in the first quarter of a 12-7 loss to Seattle, and Detroit finished a 34-24 victory against Minnesota without Jason Fox after the offensive tackle departed with a groin injury.
AP PRO32 SURPRISE
The Jets, ranked No. 30 in the AP Pro32, edged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18-17 as rookie quarterback Geno Smith led the winning drive that culminated with Nick Folk’s 48-yard field goal. ... The Tennessee Titans, ranked No. 25 in the AP Pro32, overcame an early safety and used a strong defensive performance to top the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-9.
“You want to win every game you possibly can in the National Football League, that’s what you strive for. You work so stinking hard for every week, then you cherish it,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who spent the previous 14 years in Philadelphia.
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