Every Monday during the NFL season is filled with fans and media pundits’ overreactions. Someone needs to be blamed, especially when you are a seven-point favorite and lose the season opener to a team expected to be near the bottom of the league.
Here are some of the best overreactions I’ve encountered in the aftermath of the 49ers’ 19-10 loss to Chicago on Sunday.
The defense lost this game!
San Francisco’s defense tamed the Bears’ offense throughout the early portion of the game. In the first half, Chicago managed only 68 total offensive yards.
The stingy defense and a Talanoa Hufanga interception set the 49ers offense up with optimal field position. The average starting field position for San Francisco’s offense on their first four possessions was their own 45. They scored only seven points.
Things began to go sideways for San Francisco’s defense on the first Chicago possession of the second half.
A facemask penalty on Dre Greenlaw extended a Bears drive, and Justin Fields made the 49ers pay when he escaped a sack to find Dante Pettis alone on the right side. Unacceptable.
On Chicago’s next possession, Fields once again broke free from the pocket. With Fields running around, cornerback Charvarius Ward grabbed onto his receiver and was flagged for holding, which gave the Bears an automatic first down.
Later in the drive, Azeez Al-Shaair was flagged for a personal foul when he hit Justin Fields as the quarterback began to slide. This was a very tough call on Al-Shaair. If you don’t attack the ball carrier, he will keep running, and when he slides at the last minute, there’s not much the defender can do. The laws of physics don’t allow them to stop instantaneously.
Fields found a wide-open receiver between Greenlaw and Hufanga for the go-ahead score shortly after.
In addition to the penalties, safety Tashaun Gipson had an opportunity to end the Bears first scoring drive. Gipson did an excellent job of breaking on a Fields pass to the right sideline only to have the ball slip through his hands.
Kyle Shanahan blew it again! His play calling is too conservative!
Last time I checked, Kyle Shanahan wasn’t the one on the field fumbling the ball and missing open receivers.
The first 49ers possession featured a pair of Jet Sweeps. Brandon Aiyuk gained seven on the first, and Deebo Samuel took the second for a gain of six. After Trey Lance picked up the first down with a sneak, Shanahan dialed up the game’s first big play. It was a staple play of the 49ers offense, and Lance rifled the ball to Brandon Aiyuk, who was running an over route from right to left for 31 yards. On the next play, Shanahan went to his best playmaker, Deebo Samuel. Samuel took the sweep around the left side for a gain of four but lost a fumble when he was hit. This took at least three points off the scoreboard.
On the second offensive possession, Shanahan opened with a zone read which led to a 16-yard gain up the middle by Elijah Mitchell. The next play Shanahan dialed up should have been a touchdown. Tight end Tyler Kroft was behind the left side of the Bears’ defense, but Trey Lance’s pass sailed over his head for an incompletion. A sack two plays later pushed the 49ers out of field position.
The 49ers’ offense finally put points on the board when Deebo Samuel scored from six yards out two series later.
San Francisco opened the second half with a long drive that stalled deep inside the Bears’ redzone when Trey Lance was sacked, forcing the 49ers to settle for a field goal. It looked like Lance may have had Ross Dwelley open on the play for a touchdown.
Instead of being up 20, the missed opportunities meant the 49ers held a 10-0 lead.
The issue for Shanahan isn’t his play calling. The issue is his team often plays undisciplined, leading to penalties and mistakes.
Trey Lance isn’t ready!
Trey Lance’s performance on Sunday was on par with what we saw in two starts during his rookie year and throughout training camp.
There were a few terrific throws from Lance and a few clunkers, including the Kroft miss.
Lance completed seven of 12 attempts for 114 yards through the first seven possessions. The 58.3% completion rate was slightly better than the 57.7% he posted during his rookie season. At this time in the game, San Francisco held a 10-0 lead.
From then on, the wheels fell off for Lance, and Lance could hit on only two of six pass attempts for 18 yards on the next two offensive possessions. The dagger came when Bears safety Eddie Jackson picked off Lance.
Chicago scored soon after to take a 19-10 lead. The skies opened after this, the heavy rain making it nearly impossible to throw the ball.
In addition to the passing, Lance showed what he could do with his legs when he ran for 13 yards to convert a third and 13. Lance finished as San Francisco’s leading rusher, gaining 54 yards on 13 attempts.
So, who do we blame?
Football is the ultimate team sport, and a game rarely gets decided by a single player or decision.
The 49ers lost on Sunday because the offense couldn’t take advantage of opportunities when they were presented in the first half.
The 49ers lost on Sunday because the defense couldn’t get off the field in the second half due to penalties and the missed interception.
The 49ers lost on Sunday because they were undisciplined, turning the ball over more than their opponents, and had 75 more penalty yards.
In short, this loss wasn’t on only Lance, Samuel, the defense, or Shanahan. It was a total team effort.