The 49ers and Packers rivalry heated up on Sunday, and head coach Jim Harbaugh threw a little gas on the fire on Monday. Harbaugh questioned Matthews' "tough guy" image, calling him out for using an open-handed slap on Joe Staley.
Midway through the game, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews tackled Colin Kaepernick out of bounds, drawing a personal foul. Left tackle Joe Staley immediately ran over to defend Kap, getting in Matthews face, and drawing his own penalty as he and Matthews swung at each other (Fooch's Update: I thought I saw Staley swing, but it might have just been him reaching at Matthews to grab his helmet). Harbaugh had some words about the incident Monday, and he did not hold back.
In describing the incident, Harbaugh first described Matthews as launching himself and clotheslining Kap. Harbaugh indicated he was shocked at the incident, feeling it was similar to plays back in the old days when there were few rules dictating what you could do against opposing players.
He then discussed how he saw Staley go over to Matthews and lock him up to keep him from doing anything else. Harbaugh said he saw Matthews throw a pair of punches, and then corrected himself to say Matthews threw a punch and then threw an open-handed slap. Then Harbaugh took things to another level:
"If you're gonna come to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap..."
He then said that Matthews works hard to project a tough guy image, and he'll have some work to do on that image moving forward. Well, alrighty then.
Coach Harbaugh remained defiant in his protection of Joe Staley's action. He said he encourages his players to engage and lock up, as opposed to throwing punches. As Harbaugh saw it, he wants his players defending themselves and their teammates.
It's safe to say this will come up again if the 49ers and Packers square off in the playoffs.