San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has been catching a little flak for his decision to play several starters into the fourth quarter of an eventual 48-3 laugher against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The greatest heat has been applied after top receiver Josh Morgan suffered a fractured right ankle with four minutes left in the contest.
Harbaugh, however, has a compatriot in Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who has been known to keep his starters in a contest that has already been decided.
Asked to comment on whether he gets irked by second guessers, John Harbaugh defended his brother’s decision.
“It doesn’t irk me, but I think it’s real easy to say, ‘You should have done this, you should have done that,’” John Harbaugh said during his weekly news conference Monday. “What happens is, inevitably, the other argument is made. Like in Jim’s situation, you get a wide receiver hurt. OK, there is four-and-a-half minutes left in the game, they have timeouts, he wants to get the first down. Yeah, you can take a knee or you can slam it up in there and hope you get it and basically kick the field goal or punt and put your defense back out there. So now your defense is at risk. Nobody wants to play special teams plays. That is when most of the injuries happen anyway. What you really want to do is you want to keep your offense on the field, you want to get first downs, and you want to take a knee as soon as you can – as soon as they’ll let you. They complete a pass, and they let them run it down to the 1-yard-line, which is almost the worst thing that can happen, and then on top of that, a guy gets hurt. So now he is going to be under criticism for that. I see people write, ‘I just don’t see it.’ OK, what would you have done? And how would that have mitigated any injury risk? You can’t take a knee with four-and-a-half minutes left. I think that it’s a fair conversation, and those are the things that go through a coach’s mind, but every coach is definitely trying to do what is best to win the game, No. 1, and to keep his players healthy, No. 2. That’s what you’re thinking about.”