A late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick led to a scuffle between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers early in the marquee game between the two top teams.
The 49ers had a third-down play deep in Green Bay territory in the second quarter, and Kaepernick scrambled to his left in an effort to get the first down. While he went out of bounds short of the marker, Clay Matthews didn't let up on the play.
After Kaepernick stepped out of bounds, the Packers linebacker brought him down to the ground hard:
UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 13, at 2:45 p.m. ET
NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that Matthews has been fined for the hit:
Clay Matthews fined $15,000 for his hit Sunday on Colin Kaepernick.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 13, 2013
---End of update---
This led to a fight between the two sides as several 49ers players came in to protect their quarterback:
Do you think Clay Matthews was out of line?
San Francisco offensive lineman Joe Staley was the first to grab Matthews and in turn received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This offset the 15-yard penalty by Green Bay for a late hit.
The teams then replayed the down, which resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.
Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira believes the refs blew the call:
Back to the SF/GB melee, QB #7 was short of the first down. Dead ball fouls offset. Should have been 4th and 2. Might have cost GB 4 points.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) September 8, 2013
One concerning part of the play was the fact Matthews appears to have planned this coming into the game. According to Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News, the veteran player told ESPN's Mike and Mike that his team will try to put as many hits on Kaepernick as possible.
This led to some concern from San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, who was afraid that the Packers were going to target his quarterback, as relayed by ESPN:
You're hearing a lot of tough talk right now. You're hearing some intimidating type of talk, the same thing we were hearing a couple years ago. It sounds a lot like targeting a specific player. You definitely start to wonder.
A man will usually tell you his bad intentions if you just listen. You know what's being said publicly, not what's being said privately. You hope that their intent isn't going to be anything that's not within the rules.
The late hit shows that he was correct to an extent. Hopefully, this does not lead to any serious injuries as the game continues.
At the very least, though, this incident is the latest development in a budding NFC rivalry. San Francisco got the better of Green Bay last year on more than one occasion. Clearly, Green Bay is anxious to turn the tables.
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