Sports

Silverman: Harbaugh Giveth And Harbaugh Taketh Away

Jim Harbaugh (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Jim Harbaugh (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

By Steve Silverman
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There’s nothing better than starting your weekend with an NFL game on Thursday night, right?

Especially after the Yankees took it on the chin from the Tigers and got bounced out of the postseason in four straight games. The team is too old, too fragile, too injured and too weak with the bats.

But the moment that game ended, you were all about the NFL and getting down on the game between the 49ers and the Seahawks.

If you bet on the NFL, and the chances are pretty good that you do, this was a game that got your attention.

The 49ers were coming off a one-sided home loss to the Giants. It was embarrassing for San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh to get hammered so badly, and if there was ever a time that he was going to pour it on a rival, it would have been against the Seahawks.

Harbaugh has no use for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Harbaugh was the head coach at Stanford while Carroll was the head coach at USC. When Harbaugh’s Cardinal scored a late touchdown to give Stanford a 55-21 win over USC in 2009, Carroll famously asked Harbaugh, “What’s your deal?” when the two coaches shook hands after the game.

Carroll was upset because he thought that Harbaugh was rubbing it in.

So after getting hammered against the Giants, you would have thought that Harbaugh would have been more than happy to punish Carroll again.

But it was not that kind of game, and if you had wagered on the 49ers to beat the Seahawks by more than the 7 1/2 point spread, you would have been agonizing throughout the game.

This was a defensive struggle from the word “go,” and the Seahawks had a 6-3 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the 49ers looked like the stronger and more experienced team. The defense shut down the Seahawks and the running game came together. San Francisco took a 13-6 lead and it looked like they would get the win, but leave their financial backers crying in their beers.

And then it happened.

On a fourth-and-17 desperation play in the final minute, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson faded back and threw a pass from his end zone to Ben Obomanu for 16 yards. It was just short of a first down.

However, while Wilson was fading back, guard Paul McQuistan was called for a chop block. The penalty took place in the end zone.

Just like a holding call in that part of the field, the penalty results in a two-point safety call by the official.

The praying hands above the head is the familiar signal by those in the striped shirts.

That would make the margin nine points, with the 49ers holding a 15-6 lead. That’s called a gift in the football-betting business.

If you backed the 49ers, you had time to jump up off the couch and look skyward. But before the words “thank you” could come out of your mouth, Harbaugh was declining the call.

Instead of taking the two points, Harbaugh wanted to go with the results of the play. The Seahawks gained 16 yards, but they were short of the first down, according to the officials. The replay official confirmed that judgment.

That gave the 49ers possession of the ball with a seven-point lead and time running out.

If Harbaugh had accepted the safety, the Niners would have had a nine-point lead, but the Seahawks would have had a chance to attempt an onside kick.

Harbaugh made the right decision for his team, but he sure hurt those who love to wager on favorites.

Those NFL waters are deep and dangerous. Anyone who plunked down their hard-earned money on the 49ers last night will remember that “bad beat” for a long time.

Did you have the 49ers covering the spread last night? Were you heartbroken when the game ended? Let us know in the comments section below…