The Bears offense wasn’t great on Sunday, but it was good when it mattered, and they got the job done in monsoon-like conditions at Soldier Field. This unit will experience its ebbs and flows this year, but considering the conditions, they fared alright on Sunday. They also got plenty of help from the 49ers, which we’ll discuss as we break down the plays that built the scoring drives of Week 1.
1. Touchdown (10-7 SF) 3rd QTR: 8 Plays, 57 Yards, 2:50, 1 1st Downs
When you score a 51-yard touchdown on a 57-yard drive, but it takes eight plays and nearly three minutes of the game clock, it’s hard to put the finger on any plays that helped build that drive. Quite frankly, without some luck, this drive would have been, like all the previous, a bust.
The drive started with a couple of three-yard gains by David Montgomery and looked dead in the water after Montgomery was stopped at the line of scrimmage on third down, but San Francisco’s sloppiness reared its ugly head for them when Dre Greenlaw was hit with a face mask penalty, giving the Bears a fresh set of downs instead another punting situation.
Where does this game go without San Francisco gift-wrapping the Bears a fresh set of downs here? Chicago had accomplished nothing on offense, and the ensuing touchdown on this drive seemed to be where the momentum began to shift to Chicago’s sideline. It’s not farfetched to say that this Dre Greenlaw penalty might have cost San Francisco the game.
It’s also important to point out another gift by the 49ers on this drive, a near interception dropped by former Bear Tashaun Gipson along the sideline.
I discussed some of Fields’ better moments from Week 1 yesterday, but this was not one of them. Thankfully disaster was avoided with the help of some butter fingers from an old friend in Gipson.
For as bad as the previous throw by Fields was, this play made up for it and then some. Fields showed flashed his athleticism, his poise, and his arm here when the Bears needed someone to make a big play, regardless of how cute it was.
Fields ditched the pass rush, extended the play to the left while getting his eyes downfield, and found Pettis to his right, then made a perfect hop throw against his body to get it to Pettis. Again, on this throw, you want to get it there at all costs, and he did.
Also, big props to Equanimeous St. Brown for sealing off Pettis’ lane to the end zone. ESB did some more things like that on Sunday, but that one was huge.
2. Touchdown (13-10 CHI) 3rd QTR: 11 Plays, 64 Yards, 3:52, 3 1st Downs
Justin Fields picked up where he left off on this drive after the Bears defense forced San Francisco to punt following the Pettis touchdown. Fields did a fantastic job of staying in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield with the pocket collapsing around him, but not yet unattainable. Fields finds Byron Pringle wide open and nails him for a 22-yard gain and a first down.
This play was huge for Fields and the Bears. It carried the momentum over from the last scoring drive, put the 49ers on their heels, and set the Bears up with a fresh set of downs near midfield. Chef’s kiss.
Next came another series of gifts from Santa 9ers, this time a costly defensive holding penalty on third down. On 3rd & 9, Justin Fields scrambles for five yards, setting up a punt situation for the Bears, but Charvarious Ward was flagged for defensive holding, giving the Bears another fresh set of downs.
After short-medium runs by David Montgomery on first and second down, Justin Fields made an excellent play on 3rd & 1, pulling the handoff on a QB option to take off right and get past the marker. Azeez Al-Shaair becomes the latest 49er to make a costly mistake, hitting Fields late and giving the Bears an extra 15 yards.
Two plays later, Fields would hook up with ESB for the go-ahead touchdown, and that play is the “why” behind much of the first half of play-calling.
The Bears are in 21 personnel (2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE) here, and it’s a nice heavy formation that screams run, something the Bears never wavered their commitment to on Sunday despite less than inspiring results. The 49ers eat this one up, and EBS is free behind the defense quickly for an easy touchdown. Kudos to Luke Getsy here because if he pulled the plug on the run game early, this play might not have the same success.
3. Touchdown (19-10 CHI) 4th QTR: 6 Plays, 17 Yards, 2:21, 2 1st Downs
The third and final scoring drive of the day was the nail in the coffin for the 49ers. This one was all Khalil Herbert. The Eddie Jackson interception set the Bears up with a short field at the San Francisco 21.
Herbert broke off a 10-yard gain for a first down on the first play of the drive and punched it home four plays later with this three-yard run.
Nothing much to break down there; it was all Herbert and all Bears in the game by that point.