49ers Start Strong, But End Sloppy As They Fall To The Bears

This 28-20 loss really wasn’t what it seems to be. It was not a close game with both teams playing well and going back and forth in score. Instead it was two separate games combined into one. In this first part, the 49ers went up 17-0 due to some great defensive plays and a strong, fluid offense. In the second part, the Chicago Bears did almost the same thing, winning this part of the game 28-3 due to stellar defense and a strong, cohesive offense.

In the first part of the game, which lasted slightly lees than the first half, the 49ers played extraordinarily and looked like the team we saw last week against the Cowboys. In the first series of the game they forced the Bears into a three and out, and then Aaron Lynch blocked the Bears’ punt. This punt then bounced out of bounds, and then the 49ers used three plays to go to eight yards and score a touchdown, on a Colin Kaepernick pass to Michael Crabtree.

The 49ers then added a Phil Dawson field goal late in the first quarter, and they held the Bears scoreless through this quarter while going up 10-0.

As the second quarter wound down, the 49ers scored on a short field from a 22 yard Kaepernick pass to second year tight end Derek Carrier and an eight yard Frank Gore touchdown run. The 49ers were now up 17-0, and it looked like they would hold this score through the half until they allowed Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler to throw a 17 yard touchdown pass to their star wide receiver Brandon Marshall with 18 seconds to go after a quick but long drive down the field.

Unfortunately, this touchdown served to flip the momentum and it acted as a sign of the future, as Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall connected for two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Back to the third quarter, each team had possession of the ball once, and they each made long, slow, yet steady drives down the field. The 49ers scored on a 24 yard field goal to make the score 20-7, and then the Bears went on an equally long drive that ended in the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall.

From this point in the game, the Bears defense took a new life after their quarterback was popped pretty violently in the chest. They immediately had an interception off of Kaepernick that involved their cornerback Kyle Fuller dive out horizontally and snag a pass intended for Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick used some choice language after this pick, giving the Bears the ball on the three yard line, and they immediately converted with a touchdown pass to their tight end, Martellius Bennett.

The 49ers got the ball back and looked to be making steady progress down the field until Fuller once again picked off a Kaepernick pass that was just slightly off its mark. As was the pattern, the Bears made quick work and scored in about two minutes on a three yard pass to Brandon Marshall.

From there the 49ers took the ball on another very promising drive that could have won them the game, but unfortunately they could not convert. They were able to fight off a fourth and six with a pass a short pass to Michael Crabtree, but they could not convert into the end zone as a pass tipped off of Crabtree’s hands because he slipped off the route slightly. This ball bounced on Crabtree’s fingertips twice, but he was not able to secure it, allowing the Bears to maintain their 28-20 lead and win the game.

Colin Kaepernick finished the game after completing 21 of 34 passes for 248 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He also rushed for 66 yards on nine carries. Frank Gore also had a pretty good night rushing as he was able to find lots of space to move in especially in the first half, gaining 63 yards and a touchdown on thirteen carries. Michael Crabtree led all the 49ers receivers with seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, but the Bears’ Brandon Marshall stole the show with a whopping three touchdowns yet only 48 yards and only five receptions.

On a brighter note, the 49ers held the Bears to 46 total yards rushing, and they completely stymied the Bears’ running back Matt Forte and kept him from having any long runs. The unfortunately gave up four short passing touchdowns of less than ten yards, and as usual their red zone defense was somewhat suspect.

The two teams played a pretty equal game, and the 49ers actually had more total yards, passing yards, and almost three times as many rushing yards than the Bears, but turnovers were their downfall as they lost multiple chances to score.

The 49ers had four turnovers today, and more specifically Colin Kaepernick had four as he threw three picks and fumbled away a ball. He was quite sloppy today, and he can hopefully improve on today’s performance.

Probably the most important note from today’s game; however, was the penalties. There were 26 accepted penalties in the entire game, a huge number, and it seemed like there was at least one flag every play. Even more shockingly, there was one play where four flags were thrown, indicating three completely different fouls. The Bears gave up an awful 58 yards on ten penalties, but the 49ers were twice as bad as they gave up 118 yards on 16 penalties. They also allowed multiple Bears drives to continue due to defensive penalties, and they hindered many of their own by committing multiple offensive fouls. In the first half alone, they gave up 85 yards on ten penalties while the Bears only managed 93 yards of offense. So honestly, penalties were a huge part of this game as well.

The referees were not unfair with their penalties as they flagged both sides equally, but they were quite quick to throw the flags as they penalized players on multiple borderline plays that probably did not merit flags. Hopefully the 49ers can adapt to this more strict refereeing so that they avoid the plethora of penalties they incurred today.

On a brighter note, the Seattle Seahawks lost as well today, meaning that everyone in the NFC West is tied at 1-1.

The 49ers travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals at 1:05 PDT next Sunday, where they can hopefully pick up a solid win to erase the memory of today’s loss. The season’s just starting, but it would be great to see some consistent offense and the stellar defense we have come to expect.

-Apurv Baichwal

Follow me on Twitter @abaichwal

Cover Image: By John Martinez Pavliga (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_8399) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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