49ers keep playoff hopes alive with 33-22 victory over Chicago

The San Francisco 49ers put an end to their four-game losing streak with a 33-22 victory at Soldier Field over the Chicago Bears. With the victory the 49ers keep their playoff hopes alive.

Here are the answers to the five questions I asked before the game.

1. Will it be a happy homecoming for Jimmy Garoppolo? YES

Coming off one his worst game of the season and facing a Bears defense playing without star pass rusher Khalil Mack, Jimmy Garoppolo rebounded with one of his best performances since 2019.

Garoppolo completed 17 of 28 passes for 322 yards against the Bears. He also ran the ball in for two touchdowns during the second half.

During the first half the 49er’s passing game was slowed a bit by drops, Deebo Samuel had two on the opening possession a Mohamed Sanu dropped another on third and seven to end another drive.

Things turned around late in the second quarter. Taking possession with only 1:15 left to play Garoppolo would find Brandon Aiyuk with a pair of completions to gain 21 yards and move the chains. Garoppolo then hit Deebo Samuel with on a deep post for a gain of 50 yards to set up a field goal as time expired.

Garoppolo would continue his hot finish during the second half. He completed 7 of 9 passes for 159 yards and running the ball in for two touchdowns while leading the 49ers offense to 24 second half points.

2. Can the 49ers manage to play a clean game? YES

After emphasizing techniques to limit the defensive pass interference penalties that have plagued the 49ers this season, they would not be called for any against Chicago.

Some of that probably had to do with soft coverage in the secondary to force Chicago rookie quarterback Justin Fields to throw the ball underneath and be consistent. We won’t know if the issues have been fixed until quarterbacks throw the ball down field like we saw with Aaron Rodgers, and Carson Wentz.

After committing eight turnovers during their four-game losing streak, the 49ers offense was able to not turn the ball over for the first time since their week two victory over Philadelphia.

3. Can the 49ers take advantage of Justin Fields? NO

The rookie completed 19 of 27 passes for 175 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball 10 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Fields flashed the dynamic play making ability that made him one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft. He repeatedly was able to beat the 49ers defense with short throws and beat them with his legs when needed.

The highlight of his day came in the fourth quarter with Chicago down 23-16 and facing fourth and one at the San Francisco 22-yard line. Fields would roll to his right after a play fake only to find Arik Armstead in his face. The rookie would make Armstead miss and then weave his way through the rest of the San Francisco defense for the touchdown.

4. If the 49ers get the run game going can they keep it going? YES

San Francisco found something that would work against the Chicago defense, and they kept coming back to it when they needed a big play.

Elijah Mitchell gained 137 yards on 18 carries, but it was his three most explosive runs that paved the way for those numbers. The 49ers found success with the toss sweep the left side, gaining 92 yards on three of them.

The 49ers opened their second possession of the game with a toss to Mitchell sweeping around the left side for a gain of 26. The possession would end with a field goal.

On San Francisco’s third possession of the second half Kyle Shanahan would go back to this play and Mitchell would gain 27 yards. The possession would end with a five-yard touchdown run by Jimmy Garoppolo on a read-option keep.

Finally with a 30-22 lead late in the fourth quarter Shanahan would call the toss sweep to the left once again, this time Mitchell would rip off a 39-yard gain to set the 49ers up in field goal position.

After going away from the counter runs that were working early against Indianapolis last week, it was good to see Shanahan keep going back to what had worked.

5. Can San Francisco stop the Bears running game? NO and YES

The 49ers defense struggled to contain the running of Justin Fields throughout the game, and rookie Khalil Herbert was able to slash through the 49ers defense until getting banged up as well.

The two rookies led a Chicago running game that would gain 176 yards on 36 attempts.

The difference in this game however was the ability of the 49ers defense to adjust. After allowing Herbert to run through them for 66 yards on 13 carries in the first half, mostly on runs to the left side, the 49ers defense made the necessary adjustments at halftime. In the second half the San Francisco defense was able to hold Herbert to only six yards on 10 carries.


49ers 23 Bears 15

This article has 33 Comments

  1. Now if only we had a QB who can throw deep passes and run for a couple of TDs we would have won this game.
    Time for Lance to play.

  2. Jack, In a post I made earlier today I said that JG looked like he did back in 2017. He seemed to play loose and with joy. When JG plays loose he plays well. I don’t believe he has truely been loose since he blew out his knee. What do you think?

    1. Yeah he moved
      around in The pocket as well as he has in a long time, or ever. He had decent pass protection too, but he was still moving well and looking downfield. He still has a tendency to throw high, and there were some great snags by open receivers running with the ball high, but they snagged them, and it worked.

    2. OC,

      I’m with you on this. I thought Garoppolo was moving around really well yesterday. We saw him make some nice plays outside of the pocket, and those two TD runs were pretty nice too.

  3. Uneven play but a good win. Really needed that win going into next week. Justin Fields impressed the hell out of me in this game. Passing and running we’re outstanding for a rookie. I also think the Bears coaching staff has done an excellent job designing an offense to take advantage of Fields strengths. Theyve made his transition into the NFL much more effective than what we saw from Kyle in Treys start. That kid is going to be really good. The bar has been set for Trey Lance. Hopefully he was paying attention.

    Who in the HELL was that getting destroyed in the interior D Line all day? Was that Kerr?

    1. I lived a bit of my life in the northern suburbs of Chicago so I follow the Bears as my second team.

      I can promise you there is no one in Chicago that believes the Bears organization has done well to give Fields a chance to succeed.

      Also, the rookie has a long way to go. If we had to do it all over again, I’d still take Lance (and the other 3 QBs) over Fields.

      1. I trust your judgment if you have local knowledge. I’m just going by what I saw today. The Bears didn’t call run plays designed for Fields to run into the teeth of the Defense. They used misdirection to get him on the outside so he had only half to field to read on pass plays. They used play calls where receivers were settling in zone defense for easy reads. I really liked their game plan for Fields.

        1. Right, yeah I thought he played well given the conditions he’s been subject to- a ridiculously out of his element head coach and an inept o-line all season.

          I still think subjectively though he tends to have that deer in the headlights look most of the time. Not the type of confidence I’d like to see from a 1st round QB. It’s still early though and these quarterbacks worry a lot about what the world is saying about them.

          I like Lance’s confidence but as we saw from pre-season to regular season, his confidence wavers under live bullets and he tries to make a conscious decision not to take off at times because he doesn’t want to be labeled a run first QB. Fields has had that same issue, especially behind a porous offensive line.

          Some here argue Lance runs too much, but if you watched his start against Arizona you can see almost every one of his runs was a designed QB run, a collapsing pocket or an RPO.

          I think the high ceiling is there for Lance- I hope Shanahan can help him reach it. At this stage I’m not a hundred percent positive Shanny is the guy but I’m not doubtful either, if that makes sense.

  4. Mixed game overall against a bad Bears team. Lots of usual mistakes in the first half. The second half was a huge improvement.

    I thought Shanny’s decision to milk the clock at the end of the first half was terrible. If you don’t have confidence against a team that struggles to move the ball on chunk plays, who do you have confidence against? Reminded me of the Super Bowl just before the half.

    At some point if you’re going to become a strong team again you have to build confidence. That happens when you start to exercise your will against the opponents. The coach did a terrible job of building that confidence before the half, but the players built themselves up nicely with that 11 man motorcade escort for Jennings into the end zone.

    Shanny is a real head scratcher. At times he looks like that offensive genius he’s characterized as. Other times he looks like he’s lost and in a rut.

    I didn’t hear McGarbage’s named called much today. That’s a positive sign.

    This was a must win and there’s still a decent chance to sneak into the playoffs and maybe a date with Brady.

    Why is that important? You want to bring in the kid next year on a solid, confident, winning team.

      1. Yeah I can’t remember another time I saw anything quite like that. The Bears defenders lost leverage and just couldn’t stop the 49ers from dragging everyone into the end zone. The best part is how long it took to get there. It felt like slow motion watching it live. Quite the feat! 😀

    1. We have a win and score 33 points against a strong defense and all you can do is complain? Are you also 49reasons? And your use of the term McGarbage is very condescending. Are you a Niners fan?

      1. One can be a fan and realistic at the same time.

        McGarbage is what he is- hot garbage. He was a top third first round draft pick. Would you call yourself not a fan for disliking a player’s output on the field? That’s ridiculous, frankly.

        If the 49ers played a decent team today they would be been down big in the first half.

        It’s okay to admit the team struggled. If you want to look at every game through rose colored glasses that’s your prerogative as a fan. But just realize they just came off a 4 game losing streak and no one, not a single expert is thinking the team has met or exceeded expectations this year. But again, feel free to express your opinion. It’s worth less to me than someone who can see it for what it is- a tough season thus far.

        Finally- I don’t see how you could have read my entire post and came away thinking it’s all negative. If you bothered to read the entire thing (objectively) you’d find plenty of statements expressing optimism or neutrality.

        1. McGlinchy is one of top run blocking tackles in the league which is why he was drafted. He fits the Niners scheme just fine but maybe you didn’t know this,

          1. He was drafted with the hopes of becoming the eventual replacement for Joe Staley. Staley himself was trying to groom him to be his eventual replacement post-retirement. The Raiders wanted him because they also thought he was going to be a top-flight tackle. The Niners drafted him and as a result the Raiders moved back in the draft to grab Kolton Miller, who by the way just signed a lucrative extension. Maybe you didn’t know this.

            Frankly, McGlinchey has nothing to offer at that high of a draft pick if he only offers run-blocking in a pass happy NFL. Especially since he rates consistently as terrible in pass blocking.

            You’re tying up one of your star players (Kittle) having to stay in and help block because this guy can’t get it done.

            I think if you asked McGlinchey himself he’d be the first to tell you he hasn’t had a career that is commensurate his draft position. In fact, he’s admitted he’s had problems.

            But if you only gauge fandom by watching with rose colored glasses, again, that’s your prerogative. You’re just not going to convince me McGlinchey is a good tackle and worth anything close to his draft position.

            1. I happen to agree. Imagine a LT — his envisioned future position — who can’t pass protect. But as I recall they were going to lose Trent Brown to free agency, so McG was their solution. To be honest, Lance Zierlin pegged him as a 1st rounder for either side, although not to start right away. He said McG needed work. Here were some of the weaknesses he pointed out:
              -Below average core strength
              -Needs more mass on his frame
              -Inconsistent at containing opponents as base blocker
              -Power ends can stack and discard him
              He wrote: “McGlinchey should become an early starter at either tackle position, but his ability to handle bull rushers and power at the point of attack will define the type of career he has.”
              Pretty prophetic.

              1. Yeah, Zierlein’s stuff is really good when it comes to scouting. I was super excited when the 49ers drafted Trey Sermon. I thought he was going to be a great fit for Shanny’s offense. Zierlein was lukewarm in his praise of Sermon and really sees him as a backup. So far Zierlein looks like he was right.

            2. Frankly, McGlinchey has nothing to offer at that high of a draft pick if he only offers run-blocking in a pass happy NFL.

              FYI, McGlinchey was drafted to play RT in Kyle’s run-happy system. Doesn’t mean his pass pro is great. But he just needs to be around average in pass pro with Lance as the QB.

              1. Mood, not to argue, but do you think his pass pro is average for a starting RT? It’s true that with Lance there’ll be a greater margin of error, but still . . .

                Maybe someone has PFF stats for comparison purposes and can share?

              2. Jumping in here RT’s are starting to get paid a lot the last couple of years. The 49ers will be able to get Mike for cheaper than RT’s are going for now.

  5. Aiyuk’s blocking on Mitchell’s outside tosses on the runs to the left !?!??

    Shanahan knows exactly what he is doing..

    1. I have confidence in Welker to get Aiyuk right. The sophomore slump of productive rookie receivers is not uncommon. People forget that Deebo came into camp last season out of shape and got hurt pretty quickly. In his absence, Aiyuk was force fed the ball out of necessity and he put up good numbers. Deebo learned his lesson and made strides with his weight and stamina in the off-season.

      This year, Aiyuk appears not to have made progress mentally and physically during the camp. But he seems to be working back to form and hopefully will be in full flow for the second half of the season.

      1. Ya Aiyuk might help Jimmy become a better QB too. He has the ability to be a chain mover and run all the routes (go, back shoulder) which are missing in this offense.

  6. I’m thinking we could be without 7 of our 11 originally projected defensive starters (coming into the season) against Arizona next week.

    Ford and Kinlaw on the line.
    Greenlaw and Al-Shaair on the backers.
    Verrett at corner.
    Tartt and Ward at safety.

    You can argue that Ford isn’t really a starter and Al-Shaair wasn’t slated to be a starter but both of these guys were counted on for significant contributions and/or because of injuries to other starters.

    And that’s just on defense. Shrug.

  7. Way way way back in the day George Allen used to say:
    “The future is now.”
    The Rams seem to be rocking that approach.

    1. Yep. It’s Super Bowl or bust. I can’t wait to see how it ends, and moving forward; is it sustainable?

      1. I think they’re taking the Carmen Policy Approach towards the end of Steve Young’s career. “When did you want me to pull the (cap) plug on Steve’s career?) Stafford has x-many good years left, they think they can sustain that long.
        TBD 🤷‍♂️

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