49ers: Harbaugh takes the easy route; nobody wins or loses

By From page B1 | November 15, 2012

Vernon Davis said “It’s like we didn’t even play a game.”

Jim Harbaugh said there “might have been another one” in his career.

Colin Kaepernick on how he felt about it: “Not very good.”

That’s how a tie feels.

Those are the thoughts of 49ers players and their coach after San Francisco and the St. Louis Rams deadlocked in a 24-24 tie at Candlestick Park, Sunday.

It was the first tie in the NFL in four years and only the second in team history. Frankly, it’s a game that neither the 49ers or Rams deserved to win. They each found ways to lose the game on both sides of the ball, and Harbaugh’s decisions late again come into question.

There’s the 49ers failing to show up in the first quarter. Also, Jeff Fisher being gutsy enough to call two fake punts, one out of his own end zone and another that prevented San Francisco from getting the ball one last time with some time left on the clock in the second half.

In addition, Harbaugh didn’t feel it necessary to go for a touchdown with 8 second to go in regulation and on second-and-10 from the St. Louis 15-yard line and no timeouts. Say he was playing safe, but the game could have been finished right there.

Don’t forget the big pass from Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford to Danny Amendola at the start of the overtime period that was negated on a very, very late illegal procedure call.

One last thing: David Akers missed a 41-yard field in overtime that would have won it for San Francisco only after Harbaugh pretty much settled for the fact that he was going to put the game in Akers’ hands after calling conservative runs on multiple plays on first-and-10 from the Rams’ 25.

Ok, wait, wait, wait. Did you see the missed 58-yard field goal by Rams’ kicker Greg Zuerlein in overtime that was only pushed back from 53 yards because St. Louis was called for a delay of game penalty?

And that’s how the Rams and 49ers finished their game Sunday in the 18th tie in NFL history since overtime was added to the regular season in the 1970s.

This tie falls solely on Harbaugh’s reluctance to go for the end zone in the fourth quarter and overtime. Championship teams are known for taking risks when they need to to win a game. Sean Payton knows that. His decision to surprise onside the halftime kickoff against the Colts in the Super Bowl a few years back arguably won them the title.

Harbaugh needs to start rolling the dice more. That way, he’ll win or lose. The team won’t leave wondering if it didn’t do enough to win or just enough not to lose.

Reach Peter Fournier at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/p_fournier.

Peter Fournier


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