San Francisco 49ers

NFL to players: Watch your language

There's no swearing in football, goshdarnit.

The league is cracking down on abusive language this season, with everything from salty words to racial slurs to homophobic comments subject to being penalized by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty call.

Back judge Lee Dyer and his crew were in Santa Clara this week to explain the new rule changes and points of emphasis to the 49ers players. Asked if the heated exchanges viewers see – but often don't hear – often contained abusive language, Dyer smiled.

“It's fairly common out there at times,” he said. “It varies game to game.”

Dyer said that the NFL wanted players to conduct themselves as they would in any work environment. After all, you wouldn't tolerate foul language and off-color comments at your place of work, right? (Dyer said this while looking at me; obviously he's never worked alongside NFL beatwriters. The 49ers media workroom is like the cantina scene from “Star Wars”)

The league also is allowing players and coaches to be mic'ed more than ever, and it doesn't want foul language reaching its television audience.

Meanwhile, the 49ers were heavily featured in the video every team is shown regarding upcoming rule changes. One of the plays that is now a penalty is the type of cut block the Seahawks performed against Ian Williams in Week 2 that resulted in the broken ankle and ligament damage from which Williams still is recovering.

Offensive players now will be penalized if they roll onto the back or side of the defender's leg, as Seattle's J.R. Sweezy did against Williams. That play was the first one featured on the video. But before you start feeling too disgruntled, 49ers fans, the second example shown was tackle Anthony Davis doing the exact same thing to a Titans interior lineman.

NaVorro Bowman's painful fumble-recovery-that-wasn't also is part of a rule change. Fumble recoveries now can be subject to replay review, which obviously would have overturned Bowman's play in Seattle.

At the end of the video, the narrator, executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, praised the players for adapting to rule changes geared for player safety in recent years. The example shown: a textbook shoulder tackle by Antoine Bethea against a Chiefs receiver.

Expect fewer 15-yard penalties from the 49ers' safety position this season.