49ers

Harbaugh explains call to Morgan

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Harbaugh explains call to Morgan

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."

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

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USATSI

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.