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Capers rushes to Clay Matthews' defense

Sep. 9, 2013
 

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in effect called Packers linebacker Clay Matthews a dirty player for his late hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Sunday's game, and for throwing punches in the ensuing brouhaha.

But Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers rushed to Matthews’ defense on Monday.

“I don’t believe that,” said Capers of Matthews being dirty. “I think Clay is an aggressive player that’s going to play with a lot of emotion. I thought he played a good football game yesterday. You saw him come and make minus-yardage plays. You saw him sack the quarterback. It was unfortunate that the sideline play, I think he just misjudged where he was really. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen, but I like the aggressiveness Clay plays with. He plays with his heart and a lot of emotion. I’ve been here with Clay now – this is five years and I certainly don’t believe that.”

Harbaugh, however, didn’t like the clothes-line tackle Matthews made on Kaepernick out of bounds, which drew a personal foul penalty. Harbaugh also accused Matthews of throwing punches at 49ers left tackle Joe Staley on the sideline after the late hit on Kaepernick.

“I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head,” said Harbaugh on Monday at his press conference. “Well, one punch and one open slap.”

Harbaugh chided Matthews for the alleged slap.

“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap,” Harbaugh said. “That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”

Harbaugh’s comments were brought up at a Packers team meeting today, according to McCarthy.

“I have no idea what his intent is,” said McCarthy of Harbaugh’s comments. “Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by no means. So I addressed Harbaugh’s comments in the team meeting, and as always, we’ll stay above it.”

Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush was asked if Matthews’ hit on Kaepernick was dirty. Replied Bush “Yes and no. I thought it was the heat of the moment with Clay. He went for the hit. You never know if the quarterback is going to continue running down the sideline and he made sure he didn’t come back in bounds. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t take it back. He finished the play. That’s what we call finish – fight, finish, focus. I’m pretty sure a lot of their players, they’ve done some of the same things. It’s a heated rivalry and kind of got after it a little too much. It was a hard-fought game.”

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