SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers are going head-first into thick of an increasingly heated debate about the NFL’s new helmet rule.
“The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately,” cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted Sunday.
Sherman launched his social-media rants about the safety-conscious rule immediately after Saturday night’s exhibition at Houston, in which the 49ers twice were penalized for “lowering the head to initiate contact.”
“Welcome to NFL football,” Sherman tweeted. “More offense is all they want. That’s why the calls go the way they do.
“… There is no ‘make adjustment’ to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head.“
Saturday, suspect calls went against Raheem Mostert making a punt-coverage tackle and Jeremiah Attaochu engaging on a pass-rush block. Neither player agreed with the call, yet each took the positive approach to say they’d try to fix their technique if it was wrong.
”I felt it was to the side,“ Mostert said.
Mostert’s agent, Brett Tessler, came to his client’s defense and, if you will, went head-first at the NFL’s rule while tweeting a video of it Sunday.
”Is this really the way we want to affect the outcome of games this season?“ Tessler tweeted.
Attaochu also disagreed that he committed a foul: ”I saw the replay. There was absolutely nothing on that play.“
Attaochu, in fact, did not ”initiate“ with his helmet into the Texans’ right tackle, stating: ”My hands hit first.“
In fact, 24 of 32 teams already have been flagged for this new safety-oriented rule, and, with 49 penalties already called, it’s an obvious point of exhibition-season emphasis for officials – and their critics.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans each have committed five such penalties, and the 49ers are among seven teams with three penalties on their rap sheet. Linebacker Elijah Lee was the first 49er penalized for it in their exhibition opener, and the league relayed word to him that it was a wrong call, Lee told NBC Sports Bay Area.
”We’re all still trying to figure it out,“ 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said after Saturday’s 16-13 loss.
Two weeks ago, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh shrugged off concerns about the new rule – before any games were played and before any such fouls called.
”Maybe it’s ignorance, stubbornness, I don’t know for me, but we feel like we’ve been teaching this style of tackling,“ Saleh said. ”. We feel so good about all of the drills that we run, the techniques that we teach, the tape that we have to show them exactly what it looks like, that in a way we’ve been preparing for this moment.
“Now that it’s here, I don’t think it should change us,” Saleh said. “Now, the rest of the league needs to catch up, but we feel good about it. So, we’ll see once it actually starts getting flagged and how it shows up. But, like I said, maybe I’m just being naive but I feel good about where we are.”
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