Steelers' Harrison suspended for 49ers game

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Steelers' Harrison suspended for 49ers game

Quarterback Alex Smith might be able to breathe a little easier as the 49ers prepare for their Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison was suspended for one game without pay as a result of his fifth illegal hit on a quarterback in the past three seasons, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Harrison ranks second on the Steelers with eight sacks this season.NFL Executive Vice President Ray Anderson made the decision after Harrison was penalized helmet-to-helmet hit against a Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy. In addition to four fines for illegal hits against quarterbacks in 2009 and 2010, Harrison also was fined twice for unnecessary roughness during that period, the NFL said.RELATED: Harrison says hit on McCoy not worthy of fine
Under the collective bargaining agreement, Harrison will have three business days to appeal the suspension. An expedited hearing and decision would take place this week in advance of this weekend's games, the league said. Appeals are heard and decided on a rotating basis by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline. If the suspension is upheld, Harrison may not practice this week or be at the team practice facility or stadium for any other activities during the suspension. He will be reinstated on December 20.
Here is some background on NFL rules and policies:The 2011 League Policies for Players manual states: "Players who were fined for violations in 2009 or 2010, and whose fines were either partially or fully upheld, will be considered second andor repeat offenders under this policy." Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 of the NFL Rule Book states: "It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture. (a) Players in a defenseless posture are: (1) A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13 (8) and (3) is also applicable to the roughing the passer penalty called against Harrison.
When a passer is outside the pocket area, as McCoy was, he is still afforded the protection of Article 13 (3), which prohibits defensive players from using their helmet against a passer who is in a defenseless posture, including by "forcibly hitting the passer's head or neck area with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the passer by encircling or grasping him". The applicable rules: PASSER OUT OF THE POCKET
(8) When the passer goes outside the pocket area and either continues moving with the ball (without attempting to advance the ball as a runner) or throws while on the run, he loses the protection of the one-step rule provided for in (1) above, and the protection against a low hit provided for in (5) above, but he remains covered by all the other special protections afforded to a passer in the pocket (numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7), as well as the regular unnecessary-roughness rules applicable to all player positions. If the passer stops behind the line and clearly establishes a passing posture, he will then be covered by all of the special protections for passers. HITS TO PASSER'S HEAD AND USE OF HELMET AND FACEMASK
(3) In covering the passer position, Referees will be particularly alert to fouls in which defenders impermissibly use the helmet andor facemask to hit the passer, or use hands, arms, or other parts of the body to hit the passer forcibly in the head or neck area (see also the other unnecessary-roughness rules covering these subjects). A defensive player must not use his helmet against a passer who is in a defenseless posture for example, (a) forcibly hitting the passer's head or neck area with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the passer by encircling or grasping him, or (b) lowering the head and making forcible contact with the topcrown or forehead"hairline" parts of the helmet against any part of the passer's body. This rule does not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or non-crown parts of the helmet in the course of a conventional tackle on a passer.

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks will be without safety Earl Thomas for the rest of the season due to his broken lower left leg, no matter how far the team advances in the playoffs.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that further examination determined Thomas' fractured left tibia will require a recovery time that does not allow for the possibility of a return during the 2016 season. Carroll said after Sunday's 40-7 win over Carolina that Thomas' injury usually takes a minimum of six weeks of recovery time.

It's the first major injury of Thomas' career. He played 106 straight games before missing Seattle's loss at Tampa Bay last week with a hamstring injury. He quickly recovered to play against the Panthers, but was hurt in a second-quarter collision with teammate Kam Chancellor going for an interception.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Mike Nolan coached the 49ers for three full seasons before he was fired after Week 7 in his fourth year at the helm.

On Monday morning, he was asked about the situation in Santa Clara and if he would make a change at head coach or general manager.

"It's sad that it's gone to where it is," Nolan said on 95.7 The Game. "They're beginning to look much like when I took the job over in 2005 ... and there really was not a lot of good personnel on the team.

"The difference though that is better and will continue to be better, they will be (in) a much better cap situation going forward than we ever were back then ... but the losing I should say is really killing them.

"The personnel is not as bad as they're playing and that's the thing that really gets under your skin as a coach because you're frustrated by what's going on ... the thing that I have thought most of the season when people were talking about changes as the losses started to mount up, was not to change it. Because I know Trent (Baalke) personally, and Trent does a good job with personnel and that's his primary job.

"But for a lot of strange reasons -- guys retiring, guys quitting a couple years ago, just a lot of weird things that occurred -- their roster has kind of fallen off a little bit, but it is still a much better roster than some of these other teams that are not winning."

After winning their Week 1 game against the Rams, the 49ers have lost a franchise-record 11 straight games.

Chip Kelly is under contract through 2019 and the team owes Jim Tomsula $7 million over the next two years combined.

Baalke's contract runs through 2018.

"It's about players first and I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players but unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him and currently right now with Chip Kelly it's not helping him either," Nolan added. "They do not have a bad roster.

"Obviously they need a quarterback. They could be a .500 team in my opinion if they get a quarterback as near as next year even ... they got a tough decision to make at the end."