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49ers' Jim Harbaugh takes aim at Packers' Clay Matthews

  • San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh yells at line judge Mark Perlman (9) after quarterback Colin Kaepernick was tackled by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh offered a parting shot at Packers linebacker Clay Matthews: Slapping is not the tough-guy way.

Harbaugh said Monday that Matthews threw one punch and slapped 49ers left tackle Joe Staley when they tussled following Matthews' late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second quarter of San Francisco's 34-28 season-opening win against Green Bay on Sunday.

"If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap," Harbaugh said. "I think if that young man works very hard on being a tough guy, he'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

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Matthews promised leading up to the game that Green Bay would target Kaepernick after he ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards to beat the Packers in the playoffs eight months ago, and Matthews did just that. On the play, he threw his right arm around the lower part of Kaepernick's neck.

"Like I said last week, usually a man will tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. That certainly was a cheap shot, launching, clotheslining to the neck-head area," Harbaugh said. "Bad play."

While Matthews was flagged for a late hit, Staley received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that Harbaugh didn't think was right.

Staley immediately came to Kaepernick's defense on the play. The penalties were offset and the 49ers scored on the next play, which officials later said should have been fourth down rather than a repeated third down.

The NFL said Monday that a review showed Staley should not have been penalized.

"After reviewing the play, Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino determined that Joe Staley should not have been penalized," spokesman Randall Liu said in an email. "It should have been first-and-goal for the 49ers from the Green Bay 3-yard line."

"That's what I saw," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh praised referee Bill Leavy and his crew, and said San Francisco would have gone for it on fourth down anyway.

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