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SANTA CLARA – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio believes the NFL is in error when it instructs game officials to err on the side of caution when penalizing hits on defenseless receivers.
And he also has a suggestion on which players should get money deducted from their paychecks.
“I've always said, they’re fining these people for these hits,” Fangio said Thursday with a strong hint of irony, “they should be fining the quarterbacks for throwing these guys into those big hits.”
[RELATED: Whitner officially changing name to 'Hitner']
Fangio was referring to the penalty and subsequent fine levied against 49ers safety Donte Whitner -- soon to be Hitner -- that prevented a St. Louis Rams touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Givens last week. A penalty was called, and the 49ers’ player was fined $21,000.
“The angles I’ve seen so far, it looked like a good play,” Fangio said. “He did not lead with his head. It looked to me like he jolted the guy pretty good in his shoulder with his shoulder. And the guy’s head snapped (back) because of the impact of the hit, which made it look like an illegal hit. So they threw the flag.”
Fangio added, “A lot of times, the flag is being thrown because it looks that way. I would wish they’d do a better job in that. . . They need to err on the correct side, not the safe side. Because if it’s an illegal hit, the guy will get fined on Monday or Tuesday.”
During his weekly session with reporters, Fangio also addressed some lineup issues heading into Sunday's game against the Houston Texans:
--Fangio said All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis has a “better than 50-50” of being available to play Sunday. Willis did not play in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ Sept. 22 game against the Indianapolis Colts due to a groin strain. He sat out last week’s game against the Rams, too.
[RELATED: Willis: It's a wait-and-see game]
--Tramaine Brock will be the 49ers’ No. 3 cornerback for the second game in a row, Fangio said. Veteran Nnamdi Asomugha bothersome right knee, which kept him out of last week's game, is not quite 100 percent..
“That’s obviously part of the equation,” Fangio said of Brock's role as the third corner.