Week one is upon us! The 49ers head into Soldier Field to face the Bears for the 70th time, including postseason matchups. The regular season record stands at 32-32-1, but the 49ers have won all three postseason meetings.
The first meeting was in 1950, with the bears winning 32-20 and kicking off a three-game win streak against the 49ers. The first win for the 49ers happened in 1952 by a score of 40-16. The 49ers would win three of four matchups to follow.
Fast forward to 1969, when the 49ers won five consecutive matchups until 1975, and the Bears were shut out in two meetings. From 1989-2000, the 49ers would win five more in a row, which is the longest winning streak for either franchise.
Let’s recap some of the most recent matchups.
9/14/2014 - Levi’s Stadium Opener
Listen, I don’t enjoy going back to this game. It’s the first game at Levi’s with an overly discussed and much maligned new grass implant. What we didn’t realize was this would be Jim Harbaugh’s final season opener as 49ers coach.
17-0 should be a comfortable win for any team. A questionable call here and there, four turnovers, and three TDs from Brandon Marshall later, the Bears win 28-20. Every 49ers fan remembers the one-handed grab by Marshall over Jimmie Ward. I completely blocked this game out of my mind and rewatching the highlights only made me feel worse.
12/6/2015 - OT Heroics
Jimmie Ward exacted his revenge in his very next meeting with Chicago. Grabbing his first pick 6 in the NFL, Ward exorcised some demons and flashed his talent while being miscast. Ward’s interception was the first time the 49ers had a first-quarter touchdown in 2015.
Blaine Gabbert turned on the wheels and scored from 44 yards out to tie the game with 13:18 left in the fourth quarter. Torrey Smith hauled in a deep shot from Gabbert to win the game in OT from 71 yards out.
12/3/2017 - Jimmy comes home
Say whatever you want about Jimmy Garoppolo, but you would be lying to yourself and saying you weren’t excited for his first start in Chicago. After throwing a touchdown in his first pass for the 49ers, Garoppolo was given the keys and what better place to do it than his hometown?
Garoppolo kept up his winning ways while Robbie Gould got his revenge on the Bears kicking five field goals. The 49ers’ defense was lights out in this one with the only touchdown coming on a Dontrelle Inman reception. Tarik Cohen scored the other touchdown for the Bears on a punt return. Marquise Goodwin caught eight passes and Trent Taylor caught six with both going over 90 receiving yards.
10/31/2021 - Halloween matchup and “Jimmy Wheels” is born
2018 was a lost season for the 49ers with Garoppolo losing his season to an ACL injury. The Bears beat the 49ers 14-9 in 2018 and took a 32-31-1 lead in the history series.
Jimmy Garoppolo returned home, but this time the 49ers were scuffling with questions about the team and their expectations for the season. The game was in the Bears’ favor as Justin Fields was having the best game of his young career.
The Bears held a 13-7 halftime lead and the fan base was understandably anxious. It’s not an unsurmountable lead, but this lead felt particularly disheartening considering the roster and talent gap between the two teams.
Trey Lance began warming up out of the half. A third and 24 tunnel screen to Deebo Samuel got the 49ers right back into the game and the rest is history. Garoppolo punctuated the long Deebo catch with a two-yard touchdown run and scored again on the ground with 8:26 in the fourth quarter. Quite the homecoming for Garoppolo.
The all-time series is tied in the regular season. Something has to give!