49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 12, 2007
Controversial fourth down call revisited

To kick or not to kick? Aye, that was the question last year in St.. Louis. Mike Nolan's answer - yeah, let's kick a field goal - didn't sit well with the masses. As any suffering 49ers fan will tell you, the decision to kick a field goal on fourth and 1 from the St. Louis 7 yard line proved disastrous when the Rams put together a touchdown drive in the final minutes and won 20-17. Going for it on fourth down -- so the argument goes -- would have resulted in a first down. The 49ers would have run down the clock, probably scored a touchdown and gotten an eight-point lead

Would he do it differently if he had a chance? Of course, Nolan said. His team lost after all. But his explanation for what he would have done differently confused me. He said he would have challenged the spot on Michael Robinson's failed conversion attempt on third and one. He would have lost, of course, because Robinson was stopped for no gain. But the challenge would have given his exhausted offensive line (see: Allen, Larry) a chance to get their wind back.

I'm confused because Nolan called timeout just before the third-and-one play for that exact reason. It was that timeout, in my humble (read: expert) opinion, that gave the Rams defense a chance to recover and stop Robinson. Until that point, the Rams D had been slapped around worse than Connie in Godfather I. It's the only situation that I can remember when an offense has the defense on the ropes and calls timeout because the offense is exhausted by kicking the other team's butt so badly. The Rams basically pulled a rope-a-dope.

Kwame Harris said today that he's talked to his agent about the possibility of a trade. Two teams, the Redskins and Rams, lost starting offensive tackles in Week One. According to 49ers officials, however, nobody has contacted the team about trading for Harris, who had started 33 games before being deactivated Monday against Arizona.

Say Uncle. The Rams are going to get a very in depth scouting report this week on the 49ers' quarterback. After all, their new advance scout is Alex Smith's uncle - John L. Smith. Rams coach Scott Linehan hired Smith in August. Linehan was returning a favor. He himself had been hired by Smith on three occasions, including at Louisville, which nearly recruited Alex Smith out of Helix High.

The 49ers are testing out their new "Non-Pacific" practice schedule this week. The idea is to get onto the field earlier so that the team gets accustomed to Sunday's kickoff time - about 10 a.m. Pacific. The 49ers have six games out of the Pacific time zone this year.

I knew it was too good to be true. Instead of having zero injuries as the 49ers have said for the last two days, they actually have three. Tight end Billy Bajema has a high-ankle sprain and will not practice today. Cornerbacks Marcus Hudson (quad) and Shawntae Spencer (elbow) were limited in practice. Oldsters Walt Harris, Bryant Young and Larry Allen will take every Wednesday off.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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