Not satisfied with merely beating the Seahawks, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh began a campaign Friday to win the rematch by whining publicly and to the league office about what he believes are illegal tactics by Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman.
“I wouldn’t use the words, ‘locked up,'” Harbaugh told CSNBayArea.com in San Francisco Friday. “We’ll take that up with the officials (in the NFL office) and get their view of it.”
Niners quarterback Alex Smith agreed that Sherman and Browner probably should have been called for illegal contact “several times” in Thursday’s game, won by San Francisco 13-6.
“If this is a point of emphasis of no contact after five yards, no question,” Smith said. “They’ve done it all year. When they played Green Bay, they were doing it to all those guys, (Greg) Jennings, all those guys. You turn on the Patriots (film) and same things. That’s what they do. It’s who they are. They’re good at it.
“It’s what they play — big corners, physical guys. I don’t know how we didn’t get a call. It seems like it gets called once a game and then it doesn’t get called again.”
Sherman, who played under Harbaugh at Stanford, and Browner are in their second seasons with Seattle, which has lost four in a row to San Francisco and plays the 49ers in Seattle Dec. 23. Harbaugh is deploying an old tactic by attempting to call referees’ attention to purported cheating by opponents.
Receivers Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Kyle Williams combined to make six catches for 63 yards. Running back Frank Gore led the 49ers with five catches for 51 yards. The Niners’ longest pass play was 18 yards.
Harbaugh wants a definition of illegal contact from the NFL after submitting his official inquiry.
“I think it’s just important thing to address,” Harbaugh said. “What is this all being defined as? Is it physical play within the rules? That’s the biggest question. We have to ask that question. We have to know what the interpretation is.”
Harbaugh complained about another play that replays showed was legitimate. On a second-and-10 from midfield, Smith was beginning to throw as Seahawks defensive lineman Chris Clemons grabbed Smith by the face mask. The pass, intended for Crabtree, fell short and referee Walt Anderson did not call a penalty.
“It’s not impossible to throw the ball when your helmet is turned and you’re looking out the side of the earhole, but it makes it a lot harder,” Harbaugh said with a a straight face.