San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly says he believes the NFL sufficiently protects quarterbacks when they backpedal into the pocket.
But Kelly differentiated, during a conference call with Charlotte media Wednesday, between a quarterback attempting to pass and a quarterback taking off to run.
“When they become a runner, they become a different player” as far as tackling them, Kelly said.
Kelly was asked these questions in the context of several helmet-to-helmet hits Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took during last Thursday’s season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos. Two Broncos – Brandon Marshall and Darian Stewart – received fines from the NFL for those hits on Newton.
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Kelly said it’s unavoidable, as often as Newton runs and at his size (6-5 and 245 pounds), for him not to incur some violent crashes.
“Everything they do still revolves around the quarterback,” Kelly said. “There was a little bit more quarterback run than I thought we would see (vs. Denver). But obviously when you have someone like Cam, you want to run him. It seems like that was part of their game plan: The designed quarterback runs, the quarterback counters, the powers.
“You really have to be prepared for it because Cam is unlike any other quarterback in the league; he’s a second running back back there. With the size of him, It’s like Eddie George who can throw. It’s a tough task for any defense.”