The 49ers' offense showed its true colors Sunday. The first half was full of mistakes, drops, and much of the same we’ve come accustomed to seeing this season which led to three field goals. Then, in the second half, explosive plays were the name of the game as the 49ers punched it into the end zone three times and scored a field goal.
Let’s look at the player participation from Sunday’s game.
Offense - 56 possible plays
What a performance from the Niners offensive line. Jimmy Garoppolo had a season-high 2.76 seconds to throw Sunday. But it felt like he had five seconds to throw on a couple of dropbacks.
The line also created massive running lanes for Elijah Mitchell. While Chicago was missing Khalil Mack and a couple of other starters up front who weren’t 100 percent, this is the type of confidence-building performance the offensive line needed and can build on going forward.
Those training camp tweets about Trent Sherfield are a thing of the past. The receiver rotation appears to be set in stone. There’s Aiyuk, Deebo, and Sanu on third downs. Jennings struggled to get off press coverage on the throw that everyone blamed Garoppolo for throwing a near interception. Jennings didn’t play much after that.
Kyle Shanahan said Charlier Woerner has gotten “better and better” each week, and him playing 80 percent of the snaps would suggest he’s jumped Ross Dwelley for TE2. That’s well deserved as Woerner has given the team a significant boost at tight end with George Kittle sidelined. Speaking of, Shanahan “expects” Kittle to return next week.
Elijah Mitchell has more 17-plus carry games (4) than Raheem Mostert does (2). Jeff Wilson Jr. has four in two seasons. Carlos Hyde is the only other 49er under Shanahan to have four games with 17 or more carries in a season, per Kyle Madson of NinerWire.
Hasty came in as the goal-line back, which was puzzling. He had three carries for four yards but caught both of his targets for 29 yards. If only there were a running back on the roster who could excel in short yardage.
Defense - 70 possible plays
The 49ers must find ways to give Nick Bosa a breather moving forward. Injuries have forced their hand to play Bosa and Arik Armstead around 80% of the snaps against Chicago. That’s unlikely to change. This was the first week back for Jordan Willis. He’ll have to play himself into shape. The same goes with Kevin Givens. Unfortunately, Zach Kerr isn’t giving the team enough confidence with his play to put him on the field, which means they’ll need to lean on D.J. Jones more.
Dee Ford returning from a concussion would allow Armstead to slide inside moving forward. Kris Kocurek must be creative with his defensive line rotations while also giving his starters a rest.
There was a target on Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles back. So much so that DeMeco Ryans elected to play Tavon Wilson over him during sub-packages. It’d be nice if Azeez Al-Shaair was cleared from a concussion and Dre Greenlaw returns to the lineup next week. That way, the Niners have their best linebackers on the field, and Marcell Harris isn’t 1-on-1 in the open field.
The defense didn’t play well because they didn’t tackle well. They struggled at times in coverage but think about the players who did. Flannigan-Fowles and Harris weren’t players the 49ers were counting on to contribute as starters this season. The Bears had success, but that’s not sustainable if the Niners have their starting linebackers on the field.