SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh took full responsibility for allowing the disastrous play call of an option -- without an available audible for quarterback Colin Kaepernick — to make its way to the field on Sunday.
The resulting fourth-quarter fumble was turned into a touchdown in the 49ers' 16-13 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman made the play call. But Harbaugh, who calls in the play to the quarterback via a radio transmitter, took full responsibility.
"I should have not let that play be called," Harbaugh said on Monday.
On Thursday, Roman stopped far short of admitting the play call was a mistake.
"You go back and you look at every call and judge your intent, relative to who you're asking to do what," Roman said in his first public comments since the 49ers’ loss. "You assess that decision. And one thing is, when plays work, you generally say that was a good decision. When they're not executing or they don't work, for whatever reason, maybe we should've done something else.
"In that case, there were too many moving parts for that situation. Certainly, when it was called, the result was not what we expected."
When Roman was asked to assess the risk-reward of that play call late in the game from the 49ers' 17-yard line with the club holding an eight-point lead.
"Not going to get into the X's and O's aspects of it," Roman said. "The result was not the intent of the play call. I always look back and say, ‘Did it work?’ "
Kaepernick's pitch intended for Ted Ginn was high. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins picked up the loose ball at the 2-yard line and scored. The Rams added the two-point conversion to tie the game with 3:04 remaining in regulation. It was the only touchdown the Rams scored in the game.
The 49ers had a difficult time on offense against the Rams, who took away the 49ers' deep-passing game and also stacked the line of scrimmage to make it difficult for running back Frank Gore.
"The Rams big thing was they wanted to take away the deep ball," 49ers guard Alex Boone said. "They wanted to keep everything close and I don't think we were really prepared for that. At the same time, as an offense, we have to execute better."
The 49ers also committed 11 penalties in Sunday's game. Six of the penalties were on offense.
"It's not about play-calling, it's about execution, ultimately, on the field," Roman said. "That's something we got to get a lasso around real quick. You know, 49er football is smart, tough, opportunistic, football and penalties certainly don't fit into that equation."
Rams coach Jeff Fisher, in comments after the game, pointed to the 49ers' play-calling as a reason his team was able to come out with a victory.
"I don't know what they were trying to accomplish there, but we took advantage of one of their mistakes," Fisher said.
On Wednesday, Harbaugh responded.
"That's the low-hanging fruit, 'What the heck were they doing?' " Harbaugh said. "But again, you learn from it. It's like somebody reached into your chest and stomach and started pulling the innards out without using any anesthesia. All you can do is learn."
As for Roman, he said his self-assessment of his play-calling is black and white.
"If we win the game, I generally think it was good," he said. "If we don't, it's got to be better. That's how I look at it."