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Jim Harbaugh explains late second quarter timeout, play-calling

The San Francisco 49ers showed off some end of half/game work on Sunday when they positioned themselves for a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Jim Harbaugh broke it down on Monday.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Late in the second quarter of Sunday's win over Washington, the San Francisco 49ers made what I initially thought was a curious decision. I could not figure out why they let the clock run down to 11 seconds before calling their second timeout. They ran a pass play to Michael Crabtree, and after he made a spectacular catch, they called a timeout, and Phil Dawson came on to kick a field goal that put San Francisco up 10-7 heading into the third quarter.

Initially I was confused, but plenty of you all knew what the deal was. Coach Harbaugh clarified the decision on Monday in his day-after press conference. Looking back, this makes plenty of sense. I know a lot of you already knew what the deal was with this, but I still figured it was worth sharing Harbaugh's thoughts on the sequence of decisions.

The sequence at the end of the first half, you guys seemed pretty calm. Was that something that you guys have been working on as far as letting the clock go down, knowing to take the one shot on fourth-and-two?

"We work a lot of end-of-game scenarios. We had not worked on that particular, well, let me take that back. We have worked on that, yeah. But that particular sequence, we have end-of-the-half scenarios, but that was a particularly unique one. Just made a battlefield decision to - it's fourth-and-two, let the clock run down to about 13. I thought I called a timeout at 13. I was shooting for 13 seconds on the clock. It ended up being 11. The idea was take our shot to get the first down and still had a timeout left if we happened to get enough yards, once we got a first down, to get a throw and a timeout in and get a field goal. The object was to get a field out of the half. The risk was leaving them the ball at their own 48-yard line with time to throw a Hail Mary themselves."

But not allow them enough time to run a play and get a field goal?

"That was the idea. And it worked out good. We're going to get our shot, they may get a shot but that'll be the risk if our shot doesn't work. Worked out. Players made it right."

Do you remember being in that situation before and doing that?

"No. Think it was a first timer. Nice adjustment, [WR] Michael Crabtree and [QB] Colin [Kaepernick]. Michael adjusted his route and Colin really threw a beautiful, beautiful throw and one of Crab's better catches. And staying in bounds was a great play. That were important points for us right there before the half in a tight scoring ball game."