Despite the offense gaining traction, the defense ultimately failed the Bears in a 33-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know:
Three moments that mattered
1. Time to sell: The Bears left Soldier Field with their third consecutive loss and face the reality of what they are: Good enough to be average on their best day, but probably not a viable playoff team even with the expanded postseason. That’s not a good sign for the potential futures for either general manager Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy, despite the fact the later couldn’t even be on the sideline Sunday due to COVID-19 protocols.
2. Are you serious?: On a crucial fourth-and-1 with 9:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, down 23-16, Bears quarterback Justin Fields somehow turned a busted play into a touchdown. Fields reversed course after stumbling and ran in for the unlikely score. Cairo Santos missed the ensuing point. Missed extra point aside, that was the type of play showing why the Bears traded up for their franchise quarterback.
3. 3rd-and-Oh-No: On a third-and-19 with 7:28 in the third quarter, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo connected with Deebo Samuel for 83 yards. Garoppolo eventually cashed in for the touchdown, but kicker Joey Slye missed the extra point to keep the Bears in front 16-15 with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter. It was the start of a long second half for the Bears’ defense.
Three things that worked
1. Offense bounces back: It was important for the offense to come back even marginally strong after last week’s disaster. It wasn’t perfect, but Fields (19 for 26, 175-passing yards, 1 passing TD) looked perhaps his most comfortable in awhile. Khalil Herbert (72 rushing yards) continued his ascension into a legitimate playmaker, and the Bears were more effective on third down than they had all year at 8-of-15 Entering Sunday, they converted a league-worst 31.3%
2. Darnell Mooney: It’s clear that he’s the unofficial No. 1 receiver for Fields. Mooney had six receptions for 64 yards and seems to be Fields’ favorite target.
3. DHC steps up: DeAndre Houston-Carson might not be a household name among most NFL fans, but he encapsulates ‘role player’ really well. Houston-Carson plays special teams and is reliable in defensive coverage. No better example of that came when he chased down Samuel on the big screen play to preserve what would’ve been a touchdown without it.
Three things that didn’t
1. Defense, anyone?: For as muck flak as the offense takes each week, the Bears’ defense turned in a highly disappointing second half. The 49ers finished three consecutive drives with touchdowns and were able to answer virtually any Bears score during the game. The 49ers had 467 yards of total offense, committed no turnovers and didn’t punt. Not bad for a 2-4 team, entering Sunday, on the road.
2. No pressure zone: Khalil Mack is an obvious game-changing piece, and it was pretty clear his presence was missed. Despite what has been a positive all season, the Bears had no pressure on Garoppolo. The Bears didn’t sack him once.
3. Santos: It’s a little brutal on our part for a player that has been automatic since his arrival in Chicago, but Santos’ missed extra point following the Fields score preserved the 49ers’ one-point lead at that point in the game. It’s a kick he surely wants back, but one he needs to make to reward his offense.
The Bears face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh. Kickoff is 7:15 p.m.
Source: The Daily Chronicle