Earlier this season, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride claimed that 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith got away with murder when it came to defensive holding. Jim Harbaugh fired off an angry press release in response. I'd say it became a non-story, but since then I've noticed some discussion here and there about how Aldon Smith benefits from those holds. While I'm sure it has helped at times, Aldon has shown he has the kind of one-on-one moves to win even when Justin Smith is not being double-teamed.
Jeff Fisher spoke to the 49ers media this past Wednesday, and he referenced the 49ers defensive line and their strong performance:
"There are a number of stunts they use. But the most effective is the grab game and it's been in the game forever. Justin does a great job with it, a really good job. Great job up front, and they have a sense of what way the center is going to turn ... I'm not implying. I'm just stating facts and not complaining. Everybody does it and Justin does a great job of it. As long as his feet are moving toward the quarterback, it won't be called. It's a legal act. Now if he grabs and pulls backward - a pull and shoot - it's not necessarily legal but it's not something that's going to be called."
That might very well just be a more subtle way for Fisher to put officials on notice. He won't necessarily get that noticed in a conference call, but I would imagine he will make some comment to the officials before the game about what he expects to see. The 49ers defense can do plenty without too much holding, so I am not overly concerned about it, but it is an interesting angle coaches are taking more and more.