All things considered, a loss for the 49ers was highly likely on Sunday. Although the 49ers did end up taking the L, the game was closer than the 5-point differential suggested, which is a (silver linings) victory in itself. For the most part, the defense played well, including two confirmed takeaways, and a couple others that just didn’t go the 49ers’ way. The offense wasn’t spectacular, but it performed admirably between losing key contributors (Matt Breida, Dante Pettis) early on, and facing a league-leading defense. I know it doesn’t ease the sting of losing, but the 14-9 decision in Sunday’s game is less embarrassing than the 15-6 decision put up by the Los Angeles Rams against this same team a few weeks ago.
A few things stood out during this game, and I’m sure a couple of them will embed themselves into roster discussions long after the media cycle has moved on to talking about the upcoming Rams game. First, Richard Sherman flew into the Chicago Bears sideline to back up rookie teammate Marcell Harris, who strung together another generally positive game in relief of, well, the multitude of injured safeties before him. After a late hit on Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears’ sideline took exception and surrounded the young player, at which point, Richard Sherman, who spent his career with the Seattle Seahawks annoying me to no end, completely redeemed himself and went in swinging. He was ejected, but he was ejected as a hero. It’s an uneasy feeling being in Richard Sherman’s corner, but here we are.
Beside that, the play of Nick Mullens looks to get much of the spotlight from week 16 - not in a particularly good way, either. I can’t remember the last time a quarterback who has started this many games has had such a high percentage of his total interceptions result from the ball hitting his receivers in the hands. But, alas, yet another one was tacked onto Mullens’ resume - early in the 4th quarter, the 49ers had driven into the Bears’ redzone, and were poised to put points on the board. I probably don’t need to remind you, but had they simply stalled and put 3 points up, the final 49ers drive plays for a field goal to win the game, and perhaps things play out differently. However, it didn’t work out that way - a poor throw hit Marquise Goodwin in the hands, and landed delicately in the hands of Bears defender Danny Trevathan.
Of course, no recap would be complete without mentioning Mullens’ lapse in judgment. Side note: “judgment” is actually correct, but “judgement” is acceptable - I nearly lost the 8th grade spelling bee on this word, but it was overturned, and I lost on another word. Anyway, back to it. To set the scene, the 49ers are shallow in Chicago territory, down 5, no timeouts, less than two minutes left, and they come up on a 4th & 5. Bears defensive coordinator Vic “Lord” Fangio dropped his guys back, and left the flats on the right side completely open. As Mullens took the snap, none of the immediate reads were open, and for a moment, it seemed as though he might attempt to convert with his legs on the bootleg, with a big freakin’ neon sign saying “come here buddy, get this 4th down conversion with your legs and you can totally step out of bounds to stop the clock!”. Instead, he cocked back and uncorked a deep ball out of bounds. Game over.
I mean, at least it was a fun game to watch. But, you know, bring on the offseason.
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