Harbaugh: Smith made right call to score TD

January 19, 2012, 9:46 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday that quarterback Alex Smith's decision to cross the goal line on his 28-yard run late in the 49ers' victory over the New Orleans Saints on Saturday was the right call.
Harbaugh did not dismiss a question about whether Smith scored too soon in the 49ers' eventual 36-32 victory over the Saints. He said it was a tough call.
Smith's 28-yard touchdown run gave the 49ers a 29-24 lead with 2:11 remaining.
When the play began, the 49ers trailed 24-23. If Smith had decided to take a knee at the 1-yard line, the 49ers could have run off more time before kicking a field goal. The clock would still stop at the two-minute warning, and the Saints had one timeout remaining."You'll get some debate because there are two schools of thought on this one," Harbaugh said. "First of all, we didn't heads-up him (Smith) to do that because it was a third-and-8 play and we were back at the 30-yard line and we're trying to get a first down. You certainly wouldn't put any thought in his mind at that point."The other thing was, he scores and you're still outside the two-minute warning, still around 2:10, 2:15, 2:20. So with them having one timeout, you kick that field goal at about 1:20, and that gives the Saints -- or the opposing team -- a 1:20, only needing a field goal to beat you."So I think you weigh out all the percentages and odds, and you'd rather have the touchdown at that point. I think it's the right decision by Alex. He made a battlefield decision, and took it into the end zone. And I think it was the right one."The way things turned out, the Saints scored too quickly. Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham on a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:37 remaining to give the Saints a 32-29 lead.The 49ers then moved 85 yards on seven plays to score the game-winning touchdown on Smith's 14-yard pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds remaining.

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