The NFL greatly expanded the rule against blocks below the waist this offseason, and in Saturday night’s Chiefs-49ers game, we got a look at how significant that change will be.
On a play that would have looked perfectly normal to anyone who hadn’t read the new rule, 49ers offensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi was attempting to block Chiefs safety Will Parks on an outside run. Parks went low in an attempt to avoid Kaufusi and make the tackle, and because Parks hit Kaufusi low, Parks was flagged for an illegal low block, a 15-yard penalty.
Former NFL player Tim Ryan, calling the TV broadcast of the game, noted that for a smaller defensive back trying to take on a bigger offensive lineman, making it illegal to go low makes it incredibly difficult to beat the block.
“This is gonna change the perimeter run game and the screen game,” Ryan said. “Last year that wasn’t a penalty. This year it is. . . . Get out of the way or get knocked out.”
As former NFL referee Terry McAulay wrote on Twitter of a defensive back’s dilemma if he can’t go low on a much bigger offensive lineman, “Not sure what he is supposed to do.”
Defensive backs will have to figure out what they’re supposed to do, because the new rule could be a significant change to the way they do their jobs.