Packers Coach Mike McCarthy Made Right Decision to Accept Penalty
A lot of bad things happened after Mike McCarthy decided to accept a penalty and eschew a fourth-and-one situation near the goal line during the second quarter of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers on Sunday.
The decision gave the 49ers another crack at converting on third down — six yards away from the first down marker. Chaos ensued:
- Colin Kapernick was forced out of bounds two yards short of the first-down
- Clay Matthews launched himself at Kaepernick and drilled him after he stepped out of bounds, drawing a 15-yard penalty
- Joe Staley went after Matthews, earning a 15-yard penalty himself
- Matthews appeared to throw a punch at Staley and is lucky he didn’t get ejected
- A bunch of other players got involved and had a mini Royal Rumble
- The refs screwed up the offsetting penalty calls and wrongly replayed third down
- The 49ers took advantage of the extra opportunity and scored a touchdown
Whew. Got all that? Life would have been so much easier if McCarthy just declined the original penalty and made Jim Harbaugh decide to go for it or kick a field goal on fourth-and-one, right?
In hindsight, probably. But we don’t judge on hindsight around here. I agreed with McCarthy’s decision to accept the penalty and push the 49ers back, even if it meant giving them another crack at converting on third down.
In all likelihood, Harbaugh probably would’ve went for it on fourth-and-one anyway. And in all likelihood, the 49ers probably would have converted. McCarthy knows this — he’d seen the 49ers offensive line bully his defenders and their passing attack baffle his defensive backs for nearly 10 quarters at that point. He also knew that Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have a handful of playcalls that the Packers just aren’t ready for (see the third-and-four pass to Vernon Davis late in the fourth quarter for exhibit A).
McCarthy also knows the numbers the 49ers have put up against the Packers lately. Check this post for the rundown. It ain’t pretty. After looking at those numbers and considering everything else, would you feel confident about the Packers ability to stop the 49ers from gaining one yard? I wouldn’t. I also would have elected to push the 49ers back another five yards to make them convert a third-and-six instead.
Kaepernick ended up about two yards short of the first down before Matthews stupidly lit him up out of bounds. Could you make an argument that if Harbaugh would have went for it on fourth-and-one that he’d also go for it on fourth-and-two? I don’t think so. One extra yard is a lot in that situation. I think Harbaugh would’ve taken the field goal.
I might be in the minority — and what happened after the decision certainly was a disaster for the Packers — but if we’re not unfairly using hindsight to judge McCarthy’s decision, I think he did the right thing in accepting the penalty.
If you’re going to be upset at McCarthy about anything surrounding that series of events, be upset that — like the officials — he didn’t know the rule about not replaying the down after offsetting deadball personal fouls. A head coach (or someone on his staff) should know the rules inside and out, and let the officials know when they are making a mistake like the one made on Sunday.——————