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Jim Harbaugh explains why he kept Colin Kaepernick in the game in the 4th quarter

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh elected to keep quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the game through much of the fourth quarter, even as the team was getting dominated by Denver. We take a look at Coach Harbaugh's reasoning.

Doug Pensinger

The San Francisco 49ers were blown out by the Denver Broncos this past Sunday, falling behind 21-3, and eventually losing 42-17. The Broncos were up 42-10 by the end of the third quarter, and they replaced quarterback Peyton Manning with backup Brock Osweiler with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter. On the other side of the field, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh kept Colin Kaepernick in the game until the offense returned to the field at 2:49 in the fourth quarter.

I was bewildered by it, but we did get an explanation from Coach Harbaugh on Monday.

"Well, the drive started with about 10 minutes and I was still thinking with three timeouts and a quick score, an onside kick, three timeouts to stop a drive, another score and an onside kick, I was still thinking of the possibilities. That drive extended quite a bit of time, longer than I was hoping for, and I did think about, in the middle of the drive about the six-minute mark, of taking Colin out, but didn't."

The drive to which he is referring started at the 11:22 mark of the fourth quarter. The 49ers trailed 42-10, which meant they would need four touchdowns and ensuing successful 2-point conversions just to tie the game.

There have been some crazy comebacks in the NFL, but the idea that the team would come back from 32 down with 11:22 to go is a little nutty. Jim Harbaugh is a compete until the end kind of guy, but I still don't see why you send out your franchise quarterback in a situation where he is playing behind a make-shift offensive line. Even in an extreme prevent the Broncos would seemingly be able to get some pressure on Kap.

I get that injuries are always part of the game, whether it be a close game or a blowout. However, the 49ers could have minimized the risk late in the game of something stupid ending Kap's night and potentially ending his season. It's all hypotheticals now, but it just seems like there are better ways to handle that. Some will disagree with that assessment, and that's fine. It just struck me as unnecessary.