How the 49ers were able to take down Chicago

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman (26) intercepts a Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ pass intended for wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Chicago. The 49ers won 33-22. (AP Photo/David Banks)

The San Francisco 49ers (3-4) 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 kept their playoff hopes alive.

Unlike a week ago, the 49ers were able to clean up most of their self-inflicted wounds. Let’s look back at some of the key plays from Sunday’s game.

First Quarter, 3rd and 10, San Francisco 33

After a drop by Deebo Samuel and incompletion on a deep throw to Brando Aiyuk, the 49ers face their first third down of the game.

Garoppolo is able to beat the Chicago blitz, even with a somewhat free rusher in his face, delivering a strike to Mohamed Sanu over the middle.

This play really shows off Garoppolo’s early release, starting his throwing motion well before Sanu gets to the top of his break. While the Joey Slye would eventually miss the field goal on this drive, the big play was a sign of things to come.

First Quarter, 1st and 10, San Francisco 25

San Francisco was able to dominate on the ground, especially when running to the left side, and it showed up early.
On the opening play of the 49ers second possession, Elijah Mitchell took a toss from Jimmy Garoppolo and broke free for an explosive run of 26-yards. Charlie Woerner and Kyle Juszczyk get the play started with a kickout block on the outside linebacker. Meanwhile, Trent Williams and Alex Mack get up to the linebackers at the second level and seal them off, and Deebo Samuel gets downfield to block the safety.

The 49ers would come back to this later in the game when they needed a big play, and Mitchell would rip off gains of 27 and 39 yards to seal the victory.

Second Quarter, 2nd and 11, San Francisco 24

Chicago is in man coverage with a single free safety in the middle of the field, and their secondary does a good job early in the play.

The 49ers offensive line does a good job protecting the quarterback, but with nobody open downfield, Garoppolo escapes the pocket out to his left. Brandon Aiyuk sees this and mirrors Garoppolo, who finds the receiver open for a gain of 23 yards.

This is the type of pocket presence and ability to make throws on the run that San Francisco needs to see on a more consistent basis from Garoppolo to be successful on offense.

Third Quarter, 3rd and 20, San Francisco 15

San Francisco opened the second half facing a tough third and long situation following a block in the back penalty on Kyle Juszczyk and an incompletion from Garoppolo to Charlie Woerner.

The play is a simple screen to Deebo Samuel on the left side, and while he gets credit for the 84 yards, the execution by his teammates is flawless. The first blocks which set the play up are a kickout by Juszczyk and a seal by Trent Williams, both tough blocks out in space.

Brandon Aiyuk then makes a nice block on the cornerback, and Samuel is off to the races where we find Alex Mack making another key block. That is a 35-year-old center getting 20 yards downfield to make a block.

Mohamed Sanu screens off the last Bears defender and Samuel gets all the way to the Chicago one yard line before being caught from behind.

This type of teamwork shows up all over the 49ers offensive film from Sunday.

Fourth Quarter, 3rd and 11, Chicago 40

Wrapping this up with a defensive play.

With San Francisco holding on to an eight-point lead, Chicago moves the ball out near midfield. That is when free agent acquisition Samson Ebukam comes up with his biggest play to date as a member of the 49ers.

On this play, the 49ers have three defensive ends on the field, Nick Bosa, Arden Key and Ebukam with Key and Ebukam both lined up on the right side. Ebukam takes a hard inside rush with Key twisting around to secure the outside and is able to bring Chicago quarterback Justin Fields down for a sack.

This was only the second Chicago possession of the game that did not result in points. Their final possession would end with an interception by Josh Norman.

This article has 10 Comments

  1. Thanks Jack, if Jimmy could play like this consistently Niners would not have traded up for what they hope is the next franchise QB.

  2. Great stuff as usual Jack. Excellent breakdown. A few observations:

    Trey Lance does not make that throw on the 3rd & 10 in the 1st quarter. He’s just not ready to make decisions that quickly yet. This one play is a great illustration as to why Jimmy G needs to be the starter until/if the 49ers are eliminated from playoff contention.

    Juice had multiple blocks on the run plays for Mitchell. He helped Woerner with a double team and then came off to pick off another defender. Excellent blocking KJ.

    All the successful run plays you illustrated went to the 49ers left. Did you do any analysis on run plays to the right? When I watched it in real time it looked like Mack still got pushed into the backfield frequently and Brunskil was a turnstile missing all the bars. Are you hearing anything about Aaron Banks being close to ready to break into the lineup? Or perhaps moving Jaylon Moore inside to get Brunskil off the field?

    1. I don’t think he does either. That ‘s a play Lance has shown numerous times to this point that he can’t make, yet.

      They had a couple of nice runs to the right side. After the 39 yard gain on the toss left, they came back on the next play and gained 12 on a toss to the right. They just don’t get much push on inside runs up the middle.

  3. I don’t know, Jack. While his play against the Bears was big, I think everyone is forgetting that Ebukam also saved the game for the 49ers in the first win against the Lions. The Lions were down 8 inside of a minute and down to the 49ers 25 yard line. On 4th down Ebukam came up the gut and forced Goff to throw it away to seal the win. Just in time, too. It looked like an impending disaster with the defense gassed at the end of the game.

    1. I think you have it backwards. The offense scored 41 points that game. Offense wasn’t the problem in that game, it was the defense.

    2. The play at the end of the Lions game was a good one. Not sure what that has to do with the sack against Chicago. Two separate games. Two good plays to close it out.

      1. Oh, just you noted that his sack against Fields was his biggest play to date for the 49ers.

        While it was a big moment, there was still 5 mins left on the clock for the Bears to come back and try again (1 or 2 times?) to tie the score.

        In the 1st game, Ebukam’s pressure literally ended the comeback for the Lions.

        Just semantics literally. Both plays were huge, and in both cases the team was up by 8 points. Just felt he didn’t get quite the due from others for sealing the 1st victory in a much more tense (and maybe desperate?) situation.

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