SAN FRANCISCO -- Jim Harbaugh famously went for a two-point conversion against a Pete Carroll team near the end of a Stanford blowout victory over USC in 2009.On Thursday, in a much closer game, Harbaugh declined an additional two points in the closing minute of the 49ers' 13-6 victory over the Carroll-coached Seattle Seahawks.Seattle offensive lineman Paul McQuistan was called for a chop block in the end zone on a fourth-down play with :43 seconds remaining. Referee Walt Anderson announced that the penalty resulted in a safety.The scoreboard at Candlestick Park read: "49ers 15, Seahawks 6."However, Harbaugh asked for a measurement where the ball was spotted following quarterback Russell Wilson's completion to Ben Obomanu. The Seahawks needed 17 yards for a first down. The play resulted in a 16-yard gain.Harbaugh elected to decline the penalty, and take the points off the board, so the 49ers could take two snaps on offense and run out the clock. Otherwise, the 49ers would've faced an onside kick."Because we could just kneel on the ball and have the game be over," Harbaugh answered for his rationale. "Otherwise, they'll onside kick it, and you give them a chance to win."The 49ers were happy with the 13-6 victory to improve to 5-2 on the season.But those who bet the 49ers, who were anywhere from a seven- to nine-point favorites, probably were the only ones none-too-pleased with Harbaugh's decision to decline two points.In 2009, Harbaugh elected to go for a two-point conversion against USC with about six minutes remaining and Stanford leading 48-21. Stanford eventually won the game 55-21, and that led to the memorable "What's your deal?" exchange between Carroll and Harbaugh at midfield.
After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.
That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.
“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”
A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.
When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.
“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.
“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”
Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.
“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”
Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.
“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”
The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.
Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.
Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.
"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.
The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.
In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.
"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."
--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.
--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.
"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."
--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.
"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.
--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.
"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."
--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.
"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.
"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."