Harbaugh explains call to Morgan

October 10, 2011, 8:22 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- When the 49ers took over with 9:57 remaining in the game, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-3, coach Jim Harbaugh pulled some of the starters.Colin Kaepernick stepped in for quarterback Alex Smith. Justin Peelle played tight end, as Vernon Davis' day was over. And Kyle Williams played the first seven snaps of the series while Joshua Morgan, Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn remained on the sideline.But Morgan was summoned back on the field, along with Ginn, when the 49ers used a three-receiver formation on a third-and-8 play and, then, the fateful fourth and 3.Morgan caught a 19-yard pass for the first down. As cornerback Anthony Gaitor was holding on, Morgan's right foot got stuck underneath. Safety Corey Lynch came over and made the hit on Morgan, who sustained a broken right lower leg, just above the ankle.RATTO: Second-guessing of Morgan play misplaced
So why did Harbaugh decide to go for it on fourth down, rather than kick the field goal with a little more than four minutes remaining? And why did the 49ers call a pass play in that situation?Harbaugh said the intent was to get a first down and continue to run down the clock. Here's how Harbaugh explained the decision at his Monday press conference:"There is no second team on a 46-man roster, offense, defense and special teams, so if you kick the field goal, you expose the kicker," Harbaugh said. "You take a knee, the defense is back on the field and you don't want to put your defense back out there."Next option is throw a short pass, which we did, try to get the first down and then you're taking more time off the clock. Run the ball, it's been my experience, more times the offensive linemen are rolled up on on a run play than a pass play."Harbaugh concluded: "Really, you're trying to dodge bullets at that point. And the intent is to get the clock down to where you can take a knee. On this occasion, we didn't dodge it."