The Chicago Bears brought an empty toilet paper roll to a gun fight tonight, sleepwalking their way through a 32-7 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. The Bears were outplayed in every phase of the game and did not look anywhere near as good as their 7-3 record might suggest.
Chicago drops to second place in the NFC North, having lost the tie breaker to the Green Bay Packers. The team heads back to Chicago to play the Minnesota Vikings this week, the first of two straight home games.
-WR Alshon Jeffery left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. He did not return, spending the last portion of the game sitting on the sidelines with an ice pack on his right knee. It's a tough injury for the rookie, who missed the four previous games with a fractured hand.
Game Notes from Week 11
-Let's face it, the offensive line is an absolute mess. The 49ers have a strong defensive line and they flat out ate up the Bears' front five. San Francisco sacked QB Jason Campbell six times, with 5.5 of those going to OLB Aldon Smith. He hit Campbell seven times, repeatedly beating Chicago's offensive tackles, J'Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi. G Chilo Rachal also played a very bad game, missing numerous blocks and picking up a holding penalty.
-The problems at offensive tackle are worrisome to say the least. Carimi and Webb appeared to be making progress last week, with the club not allowing a sack for the first time all season. Yet Smith made both players look like amateurs, bull rushing both players on to their backsides, while also beating them with speed and quickness. Webb and Carimi were outplayed to an extreme level, which is very concerning.
-The lack of protection never allowed Campbell to find any rhythm. He finished 14 of 22 for 107 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs, for a passer rating of 52.7. He was hit 11 times and dealt with collapsing pockets all night. That said, Campbell did not make quick reads and held onto the ball way too much. The 49ers had him fooled before and after the snap, which led to his sub-par performance.
-San Francisco bracketed WR Brandon Marshall in the same manner as the Green Bay Packers in Week 2. Carlos Rogers typically played trailer underneath, with a safety rolling to Marshall after the snap. Campbell tried a few times to find his No. 1 receiver but the 49ers had him bottled up all game. He finished the day with just two catches for 21 yards, one of which went for a touchdown in garbage time. It was one of the many instances in this game where Jim Harbaugh and his staff out-coached Lovie Smith and his staff.
-As has been the case for most of the season, no pass catcher stepped up to support Marshall. Devin Hester led the team in both receptions (3) and receiving yards (23). Jeffery had a couple of nice plays and looked good in his first game back but the knee injury may put him back on the shelf. Earl Bennett, the player with the best hands in the league, continued his long run of disappointing outings with one catch for six yards.
-I said in my Keys to the Game that the Bears would not have any luck on offense if they failed to move the ball on the ground. Well that's exactly what happened, resulting in 151 total yards on offense. Matt Forte rushed 21 times for 63 yards, while Michael Bush ran five times for nine yards. The offensive line failed repeatedly to open up holes, resulting in numerous third-and-long situations, which is not a recipe for success with Campbell.
-The Bears were 3 for 12 on third down and had seven penalties for 63 yards.
-Before the game, 49ers QB Alex Smith was ruled out due to a concussion sustained last week. That thrust rookie Colin Kaepernick into the starting role for the first time in his young career. On paper, Campbell (70 starts) against Kaepernick (0 starts) looked like an advantage for Chicago. Yet Kaepernick was stunningly great. He was calm and under control, methodically dissecting the Bears' defense. He finished 16 of 23 for 243 yards, with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, good for a QB rating of 133.1.
Yet Kaepernick was playing under a scheme that was beautifully designed to take advantage of the holes in Chicago's defense.
"They were playing the defense they thought they were going to play," Kaepernick said after the game. "They were playing their base stuff and they didn't really change too much."
Just like on offense, San Francisco out-coached Chicago, devising a game plan that relied on high-percentage passes based off play action.
-The 49ers also ran the ball well, rushing 29 times for 123 yards as a team. Again, it was run design that played a major factor in their success. During their first series, NT Stephen Paea burst through a gap and stuffed RB Frank Gore in the backfield. From that point on, San Francisco used a series of trap plays to take advantage of the aggressiveness from Chicago's defensive tackles. When Paea or Henry Melton flew up field, the 49ers would pull a player on the opposite side of the line, slamming the defenders in their ear holes. It was great execution of a great scheme.
-The Bears had no answer for TE Vernon Davis. He burned S Major Wright early and often, exposing the third-year player in his coverage abilities. Chicago then tried using linebackers Nick Roach and Lance Briggs to cover Davis, with the same results. Davis was a matchup problem for which the Bears had no answer. He led San Francisco with six catches, 83 yards and a TD.
-Wright and fellow safety Chris Conte were just awful. They blew a number of coverages, took bad angles and missed tackles. They have been a very solid duo this year, so maybe tonight was an aberration, but Wright and Conte definitely have some things to work on.
-CB D.J. Moore was a healthy inactive for the first time this year. The former starting nickelback has lost his job to Kelvin Hayden and is stuck in Lovie Smith's doghouse for his derogatory comments regarding Jay Cutler earlier in the season. His contract is up after this season, so barring injury, he has likely played his last snaps for the Bears.
-DE Corey Wootton started in place of Israel Idonije. It was the first start of Wootton's career. He ended the game with two tackles and 0.5 sacks.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.