49ers Blog and Q&A

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

September 12, 2011
Harbaugh: Ginn was a late addition to the kick return team

Ted Ginn's 102-yard kick return for a touchdown Sunday gave the 49ers a boost when they badly needed one. But as Jim Harbaugh revealed today, Ginn was a last-second choice to return kickoffs.


Rookie Kendall Hunter mostly handled that role during the preseason and Hunter was ahead of Ginn on the depth chart at kick returner heading into the game. According to Harbaugh, coaches decided on Ginn the day before the game because they liked his experience at the position. "A guy back there has to have a cool head, make good decisions," Harbaugh said.

With Michael Crabtree still recovering from his foot injury, there's a good chance Ginn will have a larger role on offense Sunday against the Cowboys. If that's the case, would Ginn's special teams role decrease? "Well, after yesterday's performance, you'd sure hate to take him off the field right now," Harbaugh said. "But he can go out to us on the offensive side as well."

As far as Crabtree, Harbaugh didn't have any medical updates. "When you go through a long period of being out and then you're back in there, there's some soreness," he said of Crabtree's left foot. "There's some rust. And we've seen that with every player we have on the team, be it new guy or veteran."

After the game, Harbaugh said he started flipping through the ESPN's and the NFL Network's respective highlight packages. "I never caught any of the 49ers on any of those, so I just watched the Cowboys game."

Did that bother him? "No, we know it," Harbaugh said. 'It just kind of documents what you know. I mean, what the perception is of our team around the league and around the country. Some people can say that's not fair, it ain't right. But let's do something about it. That's our mindset. That's our approach."

My take is that Harbaugh absolutely loooooves being under the radar and sees it as a way to motivate his team and to -- as in all things when it comes to Harbaugh -- gain a slight advantage. So I asked him if he was happy to be considered an underdog. "Like I said, it will be up to us to do something about that," Harbaugh said. "And we can take control of that."

Harbaugh said he'll need more explanation on the personal foul penalty that safety Madieu Williams incurred on Sunday. The officials said that Williams hit a defenseless receiver in the head. Replays, however, showed that it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit.

"I felt like it was a clean hit," Harbaugh said. "It was the shoulder to the back area of the receiver."

One of the game balls from Sunday is resting at the top of Will Tukuafu's locker today. It wasn't easy to obtain. Tukuafu was making his NFL regular-season debut in the second quarter when outside linebacker Parys Haralson slipped into the Seahawks tight end and crashed into quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from behind, knocking the ball into the air.

Tukuafu snagged it, then ran 12 yards to the Seattle 9 yard line. But the struggle wasn't over. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch helped tackle Tukuafu, then wrestled with him on the ground for the ball. Lynch, in fact, ended up with it as the players went to their respective sidelines, and Tukuafu had to run after Lynch.

"I was like, 'Hey, man, I need the ball,'" Tukuafu said. Lynch obliged, flipped the defensive end the ball and Tukuafu then gave it to an equipment manager for safe keeping.

-- 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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