CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jon Beason may not play offensive tackle, but he's certainly not afraid to protect his quarterback.
Beason, the Panthers' three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, fired back Friday at San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith via Twitter after comments he perceived were a slam on Carolina teammate Cam Newton.
Beason wrote, "Alex smith, don't hate on Cam (because) your stats would've gotten u cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told. That's after a 13-3 yr."
Smith used Newton as an example earlier this week that big stats don't always equate to wins.
When Smith was asked Wednesday about the 49ers finishing 29th in NFL in passing yards per game last year, he defended the offense by pointing out the team's record. The 49ers went 13-3 and won their division before losing to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship.
"I could absolutely care less on yards per game," Smith told a group of reporters. "I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what, you're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half. Yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games. That's great. You're not winning, though."
Although Newton had a record-setting season and finished with more yards, touchdowns and 300-yard games than Smith — and went to the Pro Bowl while Smith stayed home — the Panthers finished 6-10.
That was Smith's point.
Beason's comments about Smith were in reference to the 49ers' initial interest in signing Manning, who became a hot free agent prospect after being released by the Indianapolis Colts. When it became clear Manning was going to sign with the Denver Broncos, the 49ers decided to re-sign Smith.