SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh literally had some fighting words for Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on Monday, a day after Matthews ignited a sideline scrum with a late-hit tackle on Colin Kaepernick.

"If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh was referring to Matthews' tussle with 49ers left tackle Joe Staley after the second-quarter hit on Kaepernick in Sunday's 34-28, season-opening win.

"That young man works very hard on being a tough guy," Harbaugh continued about Matthews. "He'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."

While Matthews drew a personal foul for his hit on Kaepernick, Staley got penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct in the ensuing melee. The league said Monday that Staley shouldn't have been penalized for his actions, which included no punches.

Matthews, meanwhile, drew the ire of Harbaugh for how he attacked Staley's helmet. Said Harbaugh: "I could see two punches thrown to Joe's head. Well, one punch and one open slap."

The league has not yet announced what fines might be levied for the scuffle, which drew a handful of players from both teams.

Harbaugh also took exception to Matthews' hit on Kaepernick after a 6-yard scramble: "You talk about launching. You talk about a clothesline to the neck area when our quarterback's six, seven feet out of bounds."


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Packers coach Mike McCarthy's response came at the end of his Monday news conference: "Clay Matthews is not a dirty player, by no means. So I addressed Harbaugh's comments in the team meeting, and as always, we'll stay above it."

Matthews has earned Pro Bowl honors through each of his first four seasons in the league. Asked if he respects the Packers' defensive mainstay, Harbaugh declined further comment.

Harbaugh said he "would expect" teammates to rush to Kaepernick's aid in the future the way Staley did. Kaepernick wasn't injured and responded with a career-high 412 passing yards and three touchdowns.

"We're not going to back down and just get pushed all around after the whistle," Harbaugh said. "When it's not being called after the first offense, you have to have a plan, and for us, it's not to go pushing and throwing punches. It's to lock up and protect yourself. Joe did that as well as you could do it."

Harbaugh compared Matthews' clothesline hit on Kaepernick to those by Emlen Tunnell, a Hall of Fame safety for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers from 1948-61.

"Back when that was legal, he would stand in the middle of the field and wait for a receiver to cross and clothesline them," Harbaugh said of Tunnell. "Their feet would fly in the area. Their backs would hit the ground. I was struck, 'I'm seeing Emlen Tunnell here.' "

Back when he was playing for the Indianapolis Colts in 1997, Harbaugh reportedly broke his hand throwing a punch at NBC analyst Jim Kelly in a production meeting. Asked if he'd ever gotten in any fisticuffs on the field, Harbaugh replied: "I don't know. That's so long ago."

  • Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, said the Packers have "no recourse" for a blown call that resulted in a third-down replay (and the 49ers' second touchdown) after Matthews' hit on Kaepernick. It should have been a fourth-and-2 situation at the 4-yard line after the Matthews and Staley penalties, and Harbaugh said he would have gone for it rather than kick a field goal.

    Since the league stated Staley shouldn't have been penalized, the 49ers deserved a first-and-goal from the 3 situation.

  • The 49ers' inability to get plays off in a timely fashion can be traced to their extensive playbook.

    "There's so much volume there that a few times guys came out of the huddle and didn't know where to line up," Harbaugh said. "That bled some seconds off the clock, and we had to take a timeout."

    The 49ers' play-clock issues have carried over from last season in a variety of ways: Timeouts were burned, a delay-of-game penalty got called and, perhaps by extension, center Jonathan Goodwin had two false-start penalties.

  • Of Kaepernick's 39 passes Sunday, 26 were targeted for Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis, who combined for 19 catches, 306 yards and three touchdowns.

  • Kyle Williams started as the other wideout opposite Boldin. Williams had three catches for 36 yards while playing 55 of the 77 snaps. Kaepernick underthrew him down the right sideline on what could have been a 70-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown.

  • Marlon Moore was the No. 3 wideout, and the only pass that came his way resulted in a third-down incompletion in the third quarter. Overall, the 49ers converted on 9 of 18 third-down plays.

  • Defensive tackles Justin Smith and Ray McDonald got more rest than what was typical the past two seasons. Smith played 52 of 62 defensive snaps, and McDonald was in for 56. Easing their workload were Ian Williams (10 total snaps), Glenn Dorsey (six) and Tony Jerod-Eddie (three).

  • For every sack Aldon Smith records this season, he'll pay a child's way to Camp Kesem, a national network of free summer camps and social circles for children of cancer-stricken parents. Smith, who had 1½ sacks Sunday, volunteered at Camp Kesem events this spring in Berkeley and Missouri. Donors can match Smith's contributions through a "Scoring For Good" program.

    For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.