It was almost like watching two different games when replaying the 49ers 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 8. San Francisco played from behind in the first half, not recording their first touchdown until the third quarter in the punt-less game. The tides turned in San Francisco's favor as the unit scored on each possession in the second half and played a relatively clean game of football.
"You know how it is - you lose a couple in a row in the NFL, and it's tough," Kyle Shanahan said postgame. "We've lost four in a row. So that was very needed for a lot of people."
San Francisco now improves its record to 3-4 with Sunday's win. Here's a look at several takeaways from the game:
Justin Fields entered Sunday's game as one of the least efficient quarterbacks through seven games. In Week 8, the rookie had one of his better performances of the season. Fields looked comfortable in the pocket, making decisive throws and challenging the 49ers with his legs. Chicago's offense found a rhythm in the first half with a balanced offensive attack and dominated the time of possession, 19:15 to 10:45. Chicago entered the game ranked dead last in the NFL in third down conversion rate. In the first half, the Bears were 6-of-8 on third downs.
The Bears offense entered Week 8 with just 10 offensive touchdowns. Fields and Co. found their groove early with back-to-back scoring drives to open up the half. Fields was 11-of-13 for 82 yards and a touchdown for a 118.6 passer rating through the first two quarters. Chicago's offense put up 13 points to San Francisco's 8, and kept the 49ers out of the end zone for the entirety of the first half. The 49ers were just 2-of-6 on third down and struggled with key drops in several crucial moments.
San Francisco struggled to limit Chicago's ground game as running back Khalil Herbert notched several explosive runs. Herbert registered 13 carries for 66 yards (5.1 average) through the first half. Meanwhile, Fields added five rushes for 48 yards through 30 minutes of play.
The tides finally began turning for the 49ers on their first drive of the second half. Following a run for no gain, an illegal block penalty and an incomplete pass, the 49ers were looking at 3rd-and-19 from their own 16 yard line.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw a quick swing pass to Deebo Samuel, who cut up the field for an 83-yard reception. The initial ruling was a touchdown, but after further review, Samuel stepped out of bounds a yard shy of the goal line. Four plays later, Garoppolo called his own number and followed his blockers into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
Heading into that play, the 49ers were 1-for-5 on third down. They connected on three straight third downs thereafter.
San Francisco managed to hold Chicago's offense on 3rd-and-16, forcing the Bears to their first punt of the day on the ensuing drive. The 49ers offense went on to score on each drive thereafter, including a full-team effort on an Elijah Mitchell score, and another Garoppolo carry.
After a failed 4th-and-1 that allowed Fields to escape San Francisco's defense for a 22-yard touchdown run, Chicago managed to cut the 49ers lead to one.
Two Bears drives later, after a relatively clean game by both sides of the game, San Francisco's defense forced the lone turnover of the game.
On the first play of Chicago's fourth-quarter two-minute drill, Fields aired it out to wideout Darnell Mooney in an attempt to score quickly. However, cornerback Josh Norman hauled in his first interception as a member of the 49ers to seal San Francisco's victory. Norman also recorded a forced fumble on the day that was recovered by Chicago.
Performances of Note
Garoppolo finished his homecoming completing 17-of-28 passes for 322 yards and a passer rating of 100.6. He also added five carries for four yards and two touchdowns.
Mitchell topped 100 yards for his second-straight game. This time around, surpassing his previously-set career-high of 107 yards, and posting a 137-yard outing on 18 carries (7.6 yards per carry) and a score.
Samuel, again, led San Francisco's offense, posting 171 yards on six receptions.
Punter Mitch Wishnowsky's wife, Maddie, gave birth to their baby girl on Saturday night. Wishnowsky arrived in Chicago around 7 a.m. ahead of the game and was spared of his efforts in the 49ers first punt-less game of the season.
Free safety Jimmie Ward left the game with a quad injury. Per Shanahan, the veteran's injury is a "big concern." The 49ers will likely re-evaluate him when they return to the team facility on Monday. Additionally, fellow safety Kai Nacua also left the game with a hamstring injury. Rookie Talanoa Hufanga and veterans Tavon Wilson and Tony Jefferson II (practice squad) are the lone healthy safeties on the 49ers roster with Jaquiski Tartt already on Injured Reserve.