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Dave Martin / The Associated Press

Ahmad Brooks forces Saints quarterback Drew Brees to fumble. The fumble appeared to stop the drive, as the 49ers recovered, but Brooks was called for a hit to the neck area of Brees, and the Saints drove for the tying field goal.

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Talk of 49ers penalty is head-and-shoulders above rest of NFL

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 - 11:40 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 - 7:06 am

SANTA CLARA – The day after a game, 49ers coaches place minuses next to the names of players who committed penalties the day before.

Coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday said there was no minus beside Ahmad Brooks’ name despite the 15-yard penalty that wiped away a sack and fumble by quarterback Drew Brees late in Sunday's loss to the Saints.

The call, which allowed the Saints to retain possession and eventually kick a game-tying field goal, has been the most-discussed of the NFL weekend with national media members offering their own, often opposite, interpretations of what should have occurred.

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, for example, pulled out his American Express card during ESPN's Monday Night Countdown and said he'd pay half the amount should the hit draw a league-imposed fine for Brooks this week.

On the other hand, the NFL's former head of officiating, Mike Pereira, appeared on KNBR radio Monday and said there was no question that Brooks' hit was a penalty.

“You put that same play – do that same action on the field – 10 times, it's going to be called roughness 10 times. The rule is very explicit,” Pereira said. “... It will probably be a fairly substantial fine that goes out on the play. That's not a hit that the league wants, and they've been pounding that for years.”

Harbaugh, not surprisingly, sided with Lewis. He said he thought Brooks “made a great play,” though he acknowledged his view is “slanted”

“I thought Ahmad hit at the right level, hit at the shoulder level,” Harbaugh said. “And the quarterback shrunk down. And that was the call that was made. I'm going see it the way I see it, and it's going to be a slanted view. I really don't know what more I can say about it.”

Immediately after the game, Brooks said he thought the hit was legal but also said he wasn't surprised a defensive player would be penalized in that situation.

“They try to protect all the players around the NFL as much as possible. I just think they protect the offensive players a little too much,” he said, noting that offensive linemen are permitted to use cut blocks on defensive players.

Brooks said he thought he hit Brees in his chest, something that replays verify. As the quarterback was dropping, however, Brooks' arm went under the quarterback's chin.

“I'm going full speed, he's going full speed and at the last second he (Brees) ducked his shoulders,” Brooks said. “So I don't know what I could have done differently.”

Harbaugh said he hasn't spoken to the league about the matter.

“Well, I mean, this isn’t NASCAR,” he said. “This isn’t where the drivers and the owners after the game or the race get up there and start throwing punches at each other and questioning every call and everybody’s in everybody’s face heated, etc. etc. … It’s not our place as coaches to talk about that.”

Read Matthew Barrows’ blogs at and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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