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Winners and losers from 49ers Week 1 loss in Chicago

Let’s discuss some of the positives

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It was a sloppy Sunday for the 49ers in more ways than one in Chicago. The Bears scored all 19 points in the second half of a wet and muddy 19-10 loss for the 49ers. The 49ers' play was as sloppy as the grass at Soldier Field, committing 12 penalties and turning the ball twice. While the 49ers start 2022 with an 0-1 record, there were some bright spots on a wet day in Chicago. Here are the winners and losers for the 49ers in the loss:

Winner: S Talanoa Hufanga

The second-year safety turned in what was easily the best game of his young career on Sunday. Hufanga totaled a team-high 11 tackles, with two being for a loss and recording his first-career interception in the first quarter. While he did have his struggles in coverage, most notably being the lone safety on the Equanimeous St. Brown touchdown in the fourth quarter, Hufanga excelled around the line of scrimmage, sniffing out a couple of screen passes for minimal gains and providing solid run support. It was a positive and encouraging start for Hufanga after an up-and-down rookie season in 2021.

Loser: Team discipline

The most penalties the 49ers committed in a game in 2021 was 10 in their 30-23 Week 13 loss in Seattle. The 49ers topped that number on Sunday, committing 12 penalties for 99 yards. One called on special teams, five called against the offense, and six called against the defense. Unfortunately, three of the penalties called against the defense occurred on a third down extending two of Chicago's touchdown-scoring drives. Azeez Al-Shaair and Dre Greenlaw combined for three 15-yard penalties, with two falling on third down, while Charvarius Ward was called for the other drive-extending drive on a holding.

Winner: 49ers first half defense

The 49ers defense opened the game humming, holding the Bears offense to just 68 yards with three three-and-outs. The pass rush started off hot with Javon Kinlaw getting a pressure on the second play of the game and Samson Ebukam sacking Justin Fields on the third. Hufanga intercepted Justin Fields on the Bears' second drive of the game and then held the Bears' offense to eight plays over the next three drives. It was a half where the defense was playing so well; the 49ers seven-point lead felt like it was a multiple-score game.

Loser: 49ers second half defense

The Bears started the second half with what looked to be another three-and-out, but Greenlaw was called for the drive-extending face mask. Three plays later, Fields rolled to his left and found a wide-open Dante Pettis on the opposite side of the field for a 49-yard touchdown to put the Bears down three. Chicago then put together their best drive of the day, a 10-play, 84-yard drive that saw two-drive extending penalties by the 49ers defense and finished with the St. Brown touchdown. Chicago then scored on a third-consecutive drive following Trey Lance's interception, scoring all 19 of their points in the second half. After allowing just 68 yards and no scores in the first half, the defense allowed 136 yards and three scores in the second half leading to the loss.

Winner: Offensive Weapon Deebo Samuel

If one question was answered today, it was the question of Samuel's usage in the 49ers offense. After months of negotiations and rumors about Samuel's alleged displeasure with his 2021 usage Kyle Shanahan made it known quickly that offensive weapon Deebo Samuel is here to stay. While he had a pedestrian day as a receiver, two receptions for 14 yards on eight targets, Samuel, as he did last season, made an impact in the run game. While he did fumble on the first drive of the game, Samuel more than made up, totaling 52 rushing yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Samuel had a full day in the backfield, which could continue with a potential injury to Elijah Mitchell.

Loser: The pass protection

While Trey Lance wasn't his best on Sunday, his offensive line didn't give him much help. Lance was sacked twice, hit four times, and was pressured 12 times despite the Bears not sending a single blitz for the entire game.

The conditions were already against the passing game, but the offensive line made it even more challenging for the air attack to get going. While the line did well for the running game, 37 carries for 176 yards. It seemed Lance never had time to get in a flow. There were plenty of questions about the line entering the season, and the group didn't help themselves with Sunday's performance.