This great picture by Bob Donnan of USA Today Sports shows Harbaugh didn't have to travel far to argue. Seriously, just look at that picture. Somewhere Harbaugh's brother-in-law Tom Crean, the excitable coach of Indiana basketball with a penchant for roaming, is looking at it and saying "Too far, man, too far."
The play Harbaugh was watching was Vernon Davis' grab on the edge of the end zone. The catch was originally ruled out of bounds, causing Harbaugh to lodge his protest. That resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and it appeared as if the 49ers would be facing third-and-goal from the 16-yard line. The call, however, was overturned for a touchdown and the penalty was assessed on the kickoff. The Niners took a three-point lead into halftime and later took home a 23-10 win. Donnan's picture later went viral on Twitter.
The situation that immediately comes to mind after looking at this picture is Mike Tomlin's almost run-in with Jacoby Jones during the season and the $100,000 fine that was levied on the Steelers coach. The big difference, of course, is that Harbaugh was nowhere near to interfering with the in-progress play and that coaches occasionally step out on the field for a better view. Panthers fans might want to protest that another penalty should have been called, but the truth is that football coaches are whistled for this as often as third-base coaches are held to their designated areas in baseball.
So, no harm, no foul for Harbaugh's roaming and now Niners fans all have a nice souvenir of their team's triumphant trip to Carolina. Maybe next time he'll say cheese?
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- Jim Harbaugh
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