The 49ers' offense had zero issues moving the ball on its first two drives. Unfortuantely, they had to settle for field goals on both drives. Joey Slye missed his first attempt from 48 yards out but nailed his second.
The Bears marched down the field before penalties stalled their initial drive. Chicago settled for a field goal. The score was tied at three apiece as the Bears took over. They had little problem moving the ball and were in the red zone within six plays.
Justin Fields ran for a first down, then found his tight end who had beaten Josh Norman in coverage for a touchdown. Both of the Bears' drives to begin the game lasted over five minutes. There was zero pass rush, and the defense wasn’t exactly slowing down Khalil Herbert.
Jimmy Garoppolo looked patient in the pocket and did a nice job of extending plays to start the game. He found Brandon Aiyuk for 23 yards and Deebo Samuel, who had two drops in two drives, for 16 yards. Unfortunately, a third-down target to Mohamed Sanu was broken up — I couldn’t tell if it was a drop — which forced a 52-yard field goal for Slye.
Three drives and three field-goal attempts felt underwhelming, considering Garoppolo had been playing well up to this point.
Chicago marched the field once again, but Nick Bosa’s sack on Fields put them behind the chains. Then, unfortunately, Arden Key was flagged for hands to the face, which gave the Bears a first down and put them back into field goal territory. The defense had lost nearly a touchdown per game in EPA due to penalties before today. That didn’t change during the game.
The Bears' eight-minute drive ended in a field goal to give them a 13-6 lead. In the first half, Chicago had over 100 yards rushing, and Fields was 11-13. They also converted six of eight third downs. Chicago was 30th in EPA per play entering Sunday.
With 1:16 to go in the half, Garoppolo hit Deebo on a deep post for a gain of 59 yards. It was the same play he missed Emmanuel Sanders on during the Super Bowl. Slye’s 22-yarder made it 13-9.
The Bears' opening drive of the second half went like their first-half drives. They converted multiple third downs thanks to some pinpoint throws from Fields as well as more 15-yard runs. Per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, Fields' three carries of at least 15 yards put him in a class with Lamar Jackson as the only QBs this season to have at least three such rushes in a game this season.
The offense faced a 3rd & 19 after Kyle Juszczyk was flagged for an illegal block. However, that didn’t matter as Deebo went full Deebo and raced over 80 yards to get the ball to the 1-yard line before he was ruled out. A false start backed the offense up, but Garoppolo ran it in to make the score 15-16. Unfortunately, Slye missed the extra point.
Bosa had his second sack of the afternoon, and that forced the Bears' first punt near the third quarter. A 21-yard punt return from Aiyuk put the ball near midfield. Then, the 49ers went no-huddle, which forced the Bears to play soft zones. Garoppolo took advantage, and Mitchell capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown.
The 49ers had to go for two to make it a 7-point game. Then, they lined up Aiyuk inside, and he broke the ankles of Chicago’s safety to make it 23-16.
Unfortunately, the Bears wasted no time driving the field after Fields ran for 14 yards and had two double-digit gains through the air. The 49ers had Chicago in a 4th & 1 situation. Then, this happened:
Arik Armstead has to make that tackle. Fields is a special athlete. There’s no debating that. Still, the 49ers can’t let this happen.
The 49ers didn’t stop the scoring as they went down the field in five plays after Garoppolo found Sanu for 19 yards, then Mitchell ran for 27 yards. A pass to JaMychal Hasty for 23 yards was followed by a five-yard TD run by Garoppolo to make it 30-22.
The difference between the first and second half was simple. The offense put the ball in the end zone instead of settling for field goals. The running game got going, and the Bears' soft zones made life easy on Jimmy G underneath.
After Samson Ebukam sacked Fields, Michell took off for 39 and 12 yards to give the 49ers the ball inside of the red zone. Mitchell should deserve a ton of credit. I don’t want to take anything away from him, as he was awesome today. I want to stress how valuable Charlie Woerner has been these past few weeks. His blocking has been next level. He looks great. Woerner is athletic, but he’s also strong. It’s been fun seeing him develop these past two games.
Slye’s kick made it 33-22. Four possessions this half from the offense, and they’ve all been scores. More importantly, three of them were touchdowns. That was the difference between the first and second half. San Francisco’s 470 total yards were the most this season. The offense averaged 9.2 yards per play before the final drive.
Josh Norman capped the game off with an interception, and that was all she wrote.