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Jim Harbaugh turns down safety, ensures 49ers' win

It's not often you see an NFL coach take points off the board in a one-score game. Yet when Jim Harbaugh did it Thursday night, it made total sense.

With 43 seconds left in the San Francisco 49ers' dominant second half, officials called a chop-block penalty on Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Paul McQuistan.

The penalty took place in the end zone, which meant a safety for the 49ers. That made the score 15-6 and essentially ended the game with a minute remaining. At least it was over until Harbaugh declined the penalty.

Say what?

In a strange sequence, Harbaugh decided not to take the penalty (or the two points) because the Seahawks came up 1 yard short on the fourth-and-17 play. The ball was turned over on downs. Harbaugh preferred to take the ball up 13-6 rather than let the Seahawks attempt an onside free kick after a safety.

There's almost no way the Seahawks could have scored twice at that point, but Harbaugh's reasoning was sound. You never know what could happen.

"We can just kneel on the ball and the game will be over," Harbaugh said. "Otherwise, they can onside kick it and give them a chance."

Harbaugh also prevented any chance of his players being hurt on additional plays. After all, Pete Carroll wasn't going to pull a Greg Schiano and try to bust up a victory formation.

When you have a chance to kneel on the ball to end the game, you take it. Even if that means taking points off the board.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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