Grades for 49ers’ offense, defense in win over Bears
CHICAGO — It had been a while. It had been a long, long while.
The 49ers snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday with a 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
How big was that?
“Huge,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You lose a couple in a row in the NFL, and it’s tough. We’ve lost four in a row. So that was very needed for a lot of people.”
The 49ers’ previous victory came on Sept. 19 at the Philadelphia Eagles.
It did not matter how this one came. All that mattered is that the 49ers came out of it with a win.
Here are the grades from the 49ers’ Week 8 victory:
The 49ers found themselves quite a player with Elijah Mitchell, a sixth-round draft pick from Louisiana-Lafayette. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of the five games in which he has played this season. On Sunday, he gained 137 yards on 18 rushing attempts. His 5-yard touchdown run was quite an effort. He was stacked up around the 3-yard line but he kept moving his feet, and each of his teammates had a hand in pushing the Bears defense into the end zone.
The 49ers had three rushing touchdowns on the day, and Jimmy Garoppolo contributed two of them. He took a broken play into the hole that Deebo Samuel was supposed to hit after a handoff. Garoppolo also kept the ball on a read option. The 49ers averaged 6.4 yards per carry when accounting for the three kneeldowns at the end of the game.
After another slow start on third downs, the 49ers’ offense heated up and finished strong in the second half. Garoppolo did not throw a touchdown pass, but he made all the necessary plays in the passing game and finished with 322 yards through the air.
Samuel had another huge day. He came through with six receptions for 171 yards, including a career-long 83-yard reception which came on a 3rd-and-19 play in the third quarter. Brandon Aiyuk had his best game with four catches for 45 yards, which does not include his reception on a two-point conversion, which gave the 49ers a 23-16 lead early in the fourth quarter. Not only did the 49ers not punt, they also did not turn the ball over and Garoppolo was not sacked.
The 49ers did a good job against the Bears running backs. But quarterback Justin Fields had a, well, field day as a runner. Fields gained 103 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He kept the Bears in the game with a remarkable 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. There were simply too many missed tackles for the 49ers’ defense.
Fields got off to a hot start, including a nicely done 8-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James. But, ultimately, the 49ers’ pass defense turned it around. Fields completed 19-of-27 pass attempts for 175 yards with one touchdown. Josh Norman had a late-game interception.
The 49ers also sacked Fields four times for 27 yards. Nick Bosa had two sacks, and Marcell Harris and Samson Ebukam registered one sack apiece. The 49ers held Chicago to just 148 net passing yards on the day.
This was likely Joey Slye’s final game with the 49ers, as the club is expecting Robbie Gould to return this week from a groin injury. Slye missed a 48-yard field goal. He also missed an extra point. But Slye connected on field goals of 48, 52, 22 and 32 yards — the latter of which clinched the victory with 1:56 remaining.
It was a quiet day for Mitch Wishnowsky, who was not called upon to punt in this game. But it was certainly a memorable day. He arrived in Chicago around 7 a.m. on Sunday after his wife, Maddie, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
Coach Kyle Shanahan has experienced difficulty getting things rolling on offense. But he was able to use successes to open things up in other areas. The 49ers ran 54 offensive plays and averaged 8.6 yards per play. Again, take out the three kneel-downs at the end, and the 49ers averaged 9.2 yards per play. The only area that is open for second-guessing is how the 49ers managed the end of the first half.
They did not want to give the ball back to Chicago, so they milked the clock. The only issue was once they got a first down, and Garoppolo found Samuel on a 50-yard play, it did not leave them enough time for multiple shots at the end zone. They still managed a field goal as time expired, and we have no issue with that.
That was one happy 49ers locker room, and for good reason. The 49ers did not beat a great team on Sunday. The Bears fell to 3-5 on the season. But the 49ers, losers in four close games in a row, finally found themselves on the winning end.
The 49ers got contributions up and down the roster and in every phase of the game. That’s a starting point for a team that expects to contend this season for a spot in the playoffs.