The last few weeks of match ups for the San Francisco 49ers have contained some positives. There has been some offensive production as well as adjustments to stop the run which had been an issue throughout the season. The games have been as entertaining as they could be for losses. The 49ers visit to Chicago, however, was another story.
If I must choose a winner from this game it is Carlos Hyde. He finished the day with 92 yards on 23 carries and one reception for six yards putting him at just under the 100-yard mark for total production. The offense was productive keeping the ball on the ground and stayed in the game until the Bears started their two minute drill of the first half. That’s when it was over.
In his second career start, QB Matt Barkley looked like an all-pro in the Bears’ two minute drill of the first half. After no completions in the first quarter by either quarterback, Barkley tore apart the 49ers secondary while leading a balanced drive that went 81 yards in 8 plays in 1:25. He ended the half 4/8 for 64 yards. Barkley finished the game 11/18 for 192 and a 97.5 rating.
The 49ers accrued 11 penalties for 106 yards. Head coach Chip Kelly acknowledged that several of the penalties happened at crucial times that either took them out of scoring range or kept the Bears drives alive. The team was much better about penalties earlier in the season and turnovers were more of an issue. Now it seems the problems have had a role reversal.
The passing game was non existent due to conditions in the beginning of the game but the 49ers held their own on the ground in the first half. Even though QB Colin Kaepernick only completed one pass, he and the committee of running backs were able to rack up 122 yards on the ground. In the second half, the 49ers couldn’t even muster 20 yards on the ground and only added 35 yards in the air. That’s 54 yards total in the second half.
After Kaepernick seemed to be getting more comfortable in the offensive system as he took more reps, he seemed to hit a wall in Chicago and the elements didn’t help. The Bears took away the outside running lane and played a lot of man coverage making it more difficult for him to take advantage of his speed on the ground. He ended the night 1/5 for 4 yards while running 20 yards on 6 carries. He was benched for Blaine Gabbert in the 4th quarter, who didn’t really do much better. Per Kelly it was an attempt to light a spark on the offense.
All in all it was a dismal showing for the 49ers. Previously the mood on the team had been unhappy about the losses but at least looking at the positives after each match up. Although the team was in the game in the first half, they were obliterated in the second. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in regards to the mental fortitude of the players. We will have to wait a week to see if they can bounce back from this loss.