The Chicago Bears topped the San Francisco 49ers, 14-9, in a grind-it-out game at Levi's® Stadium in Week 16. Explosive plays were at a minimum in a contest largely dominated by defense. Here's what you need to know as the 49ers fell to 4-11 on the season.
1. San Francisco failed to get into the end zone for the second consecutive matchup against Chicago. Nick Mullens completed 22-of-38 passes for 241 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The stat line, while unspectacular, doesn't do justice to how Mullens played largely mistake free and made some impressive throws despite constant pressure from the Bears front seven. His best throw was a 35-yard connection with George Kittle where he evaded the pass rush to extend the play.
Mullens' one notable mistake came at the end of the game. With the 49ers driving in the final minutes of the game, needing a touchdown, San Francisco faced 4th-and-4 from Chicago's 45-yard line. Mullens rolled to his right and had open field in front of him to run for a first down and keep the 49ers alive. Instead, Mullens opted to take a shot downfield for Marquise Goodwin. The pass ended up landing out of bounds, and the 49ers turned it over on downs.
2. San Francisco's defense played admirably for most of the game and even forced two turnovers. DeForest Buckner scooped up a Mitchell Trubisky fumble in the first half. Tarvarius Moore kept the 49ers alive in the final minutes of the game by forcing a fumble (Greg Mabin recovered) of Allen Robinson on a completion that would have essentially put the game on ice for Chicago. The 49ers biggest accomplishment was limiting Tarik Cohen to just 12 yards rushing and seven yards receiving. Trubisky was an efficient 25-of-29 for 246 yards and one touchdown. Robinson had six receptions for a game-high 85 yards, and Jordan Howard ran for 53 yards and a score.
3. Richard Sherman was ejected following a scuffle on Chicago's sideline that took place late in the fourth quarter. Marcell Harris was flagged for a late hit against Trubisky. Several Bears players confronted Harris. Sherman came to defend his teammate, and he took exception to someone grabbing at him. Punches were thrown from both sides with Sherman and Bears receivers Josh Bellamy and Anthony Miller getting tossed when it was all said and done.
4. Injuries ravaged the 49ers offense as San Francisco lost Matt Breida (ankle), Garrett Celek (concussion) and Dante Pettis (knee) in the first half. Kyle Shanahan said postgame that early indications are pointing to an MCL injury for Pettis, rather than an ACL. We should know more tomorrow after an MRI.
5. George Kittle paced San Francisco's pass-catchers with seven receptions for 74 yards. Kendrick Bourne chipped in with four catches for 73 yards.
6. DeForest Buckner notched sack No. 12 on the season with a second-half takedown of Trubisky. Cassius Marsh posted two sacks in the first half to give him 5.5 sacks for the year.