During Sunday's NFC Championship Game, there was one notable play that has kind of fallen by the wayside. On a punt return to start the second quarter, LaMichael James was drilled by Ricardo Lockette. LMJ left the game briefly, but was back returning kicks not too long after.
What is a little more interesting is what happened to gunner Jeremy Lane as he ran downfield. As is often the case, he ended up out of bounds, and started to try and work his way back in. Then this happened (h/t The Big Lead):
If you look closely, you see Seahawks No. 20 (Lane) go out of bounds, behind a few people and then he makes contact with a guy in a black 49ers sweat suit. The guy is behind another person with a red-sleeved jacket, so you can't see exactly what happens. All we can see is Lane going down.
During and after the game, there was some question as to whether or not the player intentionally took down Lane via a clothesline. There is obviously contact between the two, but the view does not provide enough information to know for sure.
Jim Harbaugh was asked about the play during his Tuesday end of season press conference. If you look at the GIF, Coach Harbaugh is there at the end on the right side, looking at it as it happened. He provided his view of the situation:
Has the league contacted you or the 49ers about what happened on the sideline with Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane going out of bounds?
"I think there has been some contact there. [General Manager] Trent's [Baalke] talked to them about that. I do have a perspective on that because I did see it. I was standing closer to the sideline than the person that got run into. I saw Jeremy deep into our box and I turned around. What I saw was our guy do the exact same thing. I was practically in his shoes because we both turned around and saw the same thing. And he did run into our guy and kind of stumbled down to the ground. But our guy was in a spot back where he was supposed to be. I saw it with my own two eyes. I saw the same kind of reaction. He made the same reaction that I did. So, it was bang-bang. I could be called for a witness on that because I saw it."
In that instance is it, when the player's behind you, is it hard to figure out whether to move?
"Yeah, you don't know which way to go other than just hold your ground and protect yourself. Which was his reaction. It would have been mine as well. But I think I would be welcomed to be called and say the same thing on the record."
Coach Harbaugh did confirm that it was not a player who Lane ran into. He would not give a name, saying that since it wasn't out there yet, he wouldn't be the first to release the name.
We'll have to wait and see what the league does about this, if anything. Unless a league official was around to see it directly, that view seems just obscured enough that it would be hard to say anything with 100 percent certainty. I'm sure some will disagree, but much like instant replay, I just don't know for sure. Coach Harbaugh however, sounds pretty certain.
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