Debating third-and-6 vs. fourth-and-inches

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
7:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- So much of the focus in the aftermath of Sunday’s 34-28 loss at San Francisco has been on Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews’ late hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but the play immediately before it is worth re-examining.

On third-and-1 from the Packers 5-yard line, 49ers running back Frank Gore was stuffed for no gain by defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. However, when the officials penalized the 49ers for illegal motion, it left Packers coach Mike McCarthy with a decision to make: Decline the penalty and put the 49ers in a fourth-and-1 situation or accept it and give the 49ers a third-and-6 from the 10-yard line.

McCarthy chose the latter, chaos ensued on the next play and the 49ers eventually got a touchdown out of it.

On Monday, McCarthy said that his spotter thought Gore had actually gotten the first down. So apparently McCarthy figured that on fourth-and-inches the 49ers likely would have gone for it anyway.

“The conversation on the penalty, frankly, the spot of the ball, we have a spotter on both sides of the ball, for the play-caller, the coordinator and the spot of the ball, we thought Gore had actually gotten the first down,” McCarthy said “So, it was fourth-and- inches and that was part of my decision to go to the [third]-and-6.”

Added defensive coordinator Dom Capers: “I think it’s all relative to how far they have to go. If it’s fourth-and-inches, I think you’ve got to certainly consider moving them back. ... I think the situation in the game, how much they need, where they’re located, those types of things [factor in the decision].”

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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