The NFL’s new helmet rule has been confusing to say the least. The language of the rule is fairly clear, but as is always the case, implementation is a mess. Over the weekend, Raheem Mostert and Jeremiah Attaochu were involved in plays that raised questions. You can check out Deadspin’s list of every play where this rule was involved. Additionally, SB Nation has put together an in-depth explainer on the rule.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has remain mystified by how the league is implementing the rule. The league is quick to fine players and coaches who criticize the referees, but his frustration seems to be in a gray area that is not resulting in discipline.
He spoke about his confusion regarding the rule after the game last Saturday, and on Tuesday, he was asked about it once again. He tried to be moderate in his responses, but you can tell he remains frustrated. The NFL has said it is putting together a new explainer video, but sees this as a multi-year effort to get play corrected. We’ll see how well that goes. Here’s Shanahan’s Q&A from Tuesday afternoon.
As they weed things out, are you sure what a legal tackle is right now?
“That’s the hard thing. I know what I think is a legal tackle. Then, I know what the new rule articulates with the words so then it makes it hard to figure out how much we’re following that exactly and how much we’re not. I think that’s what everyone is in between, trying to figure out. I don’t think people know that exactly yet.”
Are you still kind of feeling it out during this exhibition season right now? The evaluation of the officials and what gets called and what doesn’t get called?
“Yeah, I think we all know the language and how to read it and what it says. Then, we’re all seeing how it’s being called. We’re all still figuring out what it’s going to be.”
Do you have any personal thoughts on the pros and cons of rule and how it gets enforced and what it means to the big picture of the game?
“I think I will eventually. I think everyone knows it’s an issue right now. I’m hoping that people get it figured it out.”
Coming back to the helmet rule, it’s a very controversial topic right now. Do you feel it’s taking away focus from the actual sport in any way?
“I don’t know. That depends what everyone’s focused on outside of here. I don’t think I’m the right person to answer that question. I know it’s an issue. Everyone does.”