On Thursday, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride expressed some moderate displeasure with the technique of Niners defensive end Justin Smith. Smith is one big part of the Niners' stellar front seven—he clears space for the run-stopping linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and gets a handful of sacks on his own—but Gilbride thinks the NFL's referees aren't hard enough on him.
Smith is a beast on the inside — he's strong, he does as good a job (as anybody) of grabbing a hold of offensive linemen and allowing those twists to take place. He never gets called for it, so he gets away with murder.
This is a thing that Justin Smith does! And the officials watching line play never call it; aside from holding, all you'll see is the occasional illegal-hands-to-the-face call. So Gilbride says Smith "gets away with murder," because that's a common turn of phrase now. It's on idioms.thefreedictionary.com (which reprints the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms), for crissakes. Getting away with murder: "to not be punished for bad behavior." Boy, that's exactly the case with Justin Smith.
Someone told totally sane 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who is not an amped-up anal-retentive weirdo, about Gilbride's quote, and he responded with a statement today:
Kevin Gilbride's outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith's play is, first, an absurd analogy.
Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff's sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating.
Please, whoever controls such things, take away Jim Harbaugh's thesaurus and give him a dictionary, maybe even one like the one they've reprinted at thefreedictionary.com. Good god, this man is nuts.
49ers' Jim Harbaugh fires back [ESPN NY]