In news that will apply to the 49ers as much as anybody else, Chris Mortensen is reporting that the NFL is expected to announce new rules involving suspensions for helmet to helmet hits that are categorized as "devastating hits" and "head shots." Furthermore, this will be applied to first time offenders as well as repeat offenders. The NFL's executive vice president of football operations stated that:
"We can't and won't tolerate what we saw Sunday," Anderson said Monday. "We've got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots."
I didn't see all of the hits but I did see the DeSean Jackson hit live and although it wasn't quite a direct helmet-to-helmet shot, it was still a vicious blow.
What will be interesting to see is how this will affect players on the field. Much of what happens in football once the ball is in the air or has been handed off is instinctual. When you're whole job is to stop the guy with the ball, it shouldn't be surprising that players go for the big hit to take the guy out. I doubt they're intending to hurt the opposing player, but they do want to stop the play as effectively as possible.
There have been fines in the past but it would seem to be a drop in the bucket for many of these guys who are making seven figure salaries. If suspensions are imposed I believe the player loses a game check, which would be a significantly larger chunk of change.
Much of this could actually come down to a sort of re-training of tackling fundamentals. At the end of the day this would seem to mean players will need to become better at the basics of wrapping up a player as opposed to launching yourself as a missile. But again, it can be hard to retrain the instincts of a person who has been trained in a specific manner for many years.
Of course, sometimes these hits are just cheap shots like the hit Brandon Meriweather put on Todd Heap. Meriweather launched himself head first aiming for Heap's head with no intention of attempting to tackle Heap or defend the pass. In fact, the pass was past Heap when Meriweather launched himself. While the hit on Jackson was certainly bad, it did not reach the level of cheap-ness like that of Meriweather. I wouldn't mind seeing Meriweather suspended for a game.
Do people think this will help lower the number of ugly hits? Or is it just well-intended window-dressing that won't make a huge difference because of the