Steelers coach Mike Tomlin predicted 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's read-option concerns

Doug Pensinger

In March, Mike Tomlin took a stance against the read-option offense, and challenged the resolve of their opponents. His comments have come to fruition with Jim Harbaugh, whose 49ers used the system to reach the Super Bowl.

When Mike Tomlin speaks, people listen.

When Tomlin talked about the read-option offense trending in the NFL back in March, people listened and knew he meant every single word.

"We look forward to stopping it. We look forward to eliminating it. I think it's the flavor of the day. We'll see if it's the flavor of the year. We'll see if guys are committed to their guys getting hit."

Maybe Jim Harbaugh did not hear Tomlin's comments personally, but every other head coach and defensive coordinator did.  Even if Harbaugh did not read the writing on the wall, his concerns about quarterback contact in the read-option offense prove Tomlin's message reached everyone, loud and clear.

Kevin Patra, a writer for NFL.com's Around The League, covered Harbaugh's reaction to the recent refusal by the NFL to establish a 'strike-zone' on quarterbacks in the pocket, citing defenders attacking quarterbacks like ball carriers on read-option plays and potentially giving freer reign to head and knee injuries.  Interestingly, the league which has been very adamant about head safety, denied additional protection to QBs who give the perception of an intention to run while they're in the pocket, even just as a deceptive maneuver.

If you want a defender to believe you have the ball and are about to run with it, then the defense has every right to believe they need to tackle you.

Harbaugh may believe the rules of football are 'flawed' or 'biased', but the deceptive nature of the offense helped propel his San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.  Every defensive coordinator was tasked with stopping the read-option which led to success with not only the 49ers, but also the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, as well as several others joining in for 2013.  Defenses have the right to stop an offense any way necessary as long as they stay within the confines of the rules.

Tomlin knows the rules, and his Pittsburgh Steelers intend to discourage teams from exposing their quarterbacks to the 'legality' of it all; and they will not be alone. When Tomlin speaks, people listen.

"We'll see if guys are committed to their guys getting hit."

We shall see, indeed.

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