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Around the NFC West: Where 49ers stand

Jim Harbaugh didn't flinch when asked why he would risk injury to receiver Joshua Morgan with a fourth-down pass play while the San Francisco 49ers were leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 38 points with 4:46 remaining.

"You've got to play," Harbaugh said. "You can't take a knee with four minutes left in the game. It could have been a run."

It could have been a field goal try as well.

The 49ers had only four receivers active for the game. Michael Crabtree, Morgan and Ted Ginn Jr. were the ones most important to the 49ers' success. Kyle Williams was the fourth, and in retrospect, the team would have been better off with Williams in the game at that point, particularly after Harbaugh had removed starting quarterback Alex Smith from the game with nearly a full quarter remaining.

Self-preservation was clearly on the coach's mind, to some degree.

Any quibbling over how to handle personnel during the final minutes of a 48-3 victory shows how far the 49ers have come from last season, when they suffered a 21-0 home defeat against a very similar Bucs team.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the broken ankle Morgan suffered will likely force the 49ers to sign another player at the position while Braylon Edwards also recovers from injury. Barrows: "Three veteran receivers went through training camp with the 49ers: Lance Long, Dominique Zeigler and Kevin Jurovich. All three are available. The team also has two receivers on the practice squad, rookie Joe Hastings and veteran John Matthews. Matthews was signed last week. But he played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and is familiar with the offense. The 49ers also have been giving tryouts to receivers throughout the season. One of the receivers who worked out for the team, Donnie Avery, was signed by Tennessee."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' offensive line has shown great improvement over the past two games. As left tackle Joe Staley said a couple weeks back: "Contrary to what everybody believes, we don't suck."

Also from Maiocco: It's tough to question Carlos Rogers' hands after his 31-yard interception return gave the 49ers a 14-3 lead Sunday.

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com counts the ways the 49ers' victory broke from convention, highlighted by Harbaugh's comment about how Al Davis would have been proud of the way the team played. Ratto: "The 49ers are, for the moment, one of the seven best teams in the NFL by record. There have been years when they haven’t been one of the top 27. So here’s to Al Davis, who would be proud as hell of the boys ... except that he wouldn’t be ... and wouldn’t actually give a damn, since the two teams don’t play again for the foreseeable."

Alex Espinoza of 49ers.com notes that the team has allowed six points in its last six quarters.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers the 49ers straight A's on their postgame report card.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat gives the 49ers coaching staff credit for the team's reversal.

Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times quotes Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman as saying the 49ers possess the best defensive front seven they'll face all season.

Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News says it's obviously premature to write off Frank Gore.

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Groups says the 49ers are believing in themselves thanks to Harbaugh.