What We Learned from 49ers vs. Bears

Blaine Gabbert picked the San Francisco 49ers up off the mat with his legs. A few minutes later, the quarterback delivered a knockout blow to the Chicago Bears with his arm.

After tying the game late in regulation on a 44-yard touchdown run, Gabbert launched a 71-yard heave to Torrey Smith in overtime for a walk-off score to send the 49ers home with their first road victory of the season.

Gabbert finished the afternoon 18-of-32 passing for 196 yards and a touchdown. He added 75 yards and another score on the ground.

The 49ers are now 4-8 on the year and will travel to Cleveland next week. Here's what we learned from the thrilling affair in the Windy City.

Gabbert Leads Game-tying Drive

For the past two years, the 49ers coaching staff has repeatedly praised Gabbert for his athleticism both inside and outside the pocket.

While Gabbert isn't the pure runner that Colin Kaepernick is, he does possess the ability to make defenders miss and scramble if receivers are covered.

That knack showed up in crunch time on Sunday.

Facing a touchdown deficit with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Gabbert used his legs to carry the 49ers the length of the field.

On San Francisco's six-play, 64-yard drive, Gabbert scrambled three times for 60 yards, including the 44-yard touchdown run to tie the game.

The play marked Gabbert's longest run of his career and the 49ers longest run of the season. Gabbert made several defenders miss on the scramble, weaving through the Bears defense and into the end zone.

Thanks to a 74-yard kick return, the Bears had a chance to win the game before overtime, but Robbie Gould hooked a 36-yard field goal with no time remaining in regulation.

Ward Gets Revenge

A year ago in Santa Clara, Jay Cutler and then-Bears wideout Brandon Marshall connected for three touchdowns against the coverage of Jimmie Ward.

On this day, however, it was Ward who got the better of Cutler.

Midway through the first quarter, the second-year cornerback jumped a bubble screen and returned the interception 29 yards for a touchdown.

A NaVorro Bowman blitz from the left side forced Cutler to audible and make a quick throw. Ward read the play the whole way and delivered San Francisco's first first-quarter touchdown and first defensive touchdown of the season.

Ward starred in college an hour west of Solider Field at Northern Illinois, so it was only fitting that his first career pick came in Chicago.

Third-down Success Produces Points

The 49ers put together one of their most impressive drives of the season in the second quarter on Sunday.

Trailing by seven points, San Francisco marched 81 yards in 16 plays spanning nearly seven minutes to tie the game at 13 points apiece.

After missing on their previous 18 third-down conversion attempts, the 49ers hit on three straight during the possession. The most important of which came when Gabbert fired to Anquan Boldin for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-7 to set San Francisco up at the 1-yard line.

Shaun Draughn finished the job with his first touchdown since 2012 – when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. The 1-yard run also gave the 49ers their first rushing touchdown since Oct. 11 against the New York Giants.

Injuries Take Toll

Sunday, unfortunately, was busy day for the 49ers medical stuff.

Ian Williams (knee), NaVorro Bowman (head), Garrett Celek (head), Aaron Lynch (head) and Michael Wilhoite (ankle) all left the game injured.

Of those five players, only Williams and Bowman were able to return.

Given how depleted the defense was, San Francisco delivered a gutty performance against a Chicago offense with plenty of weapons.

Golden Nuggets

  • On the ensuing point-after attempt following Ward's pick-six, Phil Dawson had his kick blocked at the line of scrimmage. The missed PAT marked San Francisco's first since Week 9 of 2003.
  • Although Daniel Kilgore was active for the first time this season, Marcus Martin again got the start at center. Kilgore played sparingly throughout the game when the team needed an extra blocker.
  • After being on the field for every offensive snap last week versus the Arizona Cardinals, Draughn did receive a few breathers in Chicago. Travaris Cadet mixed in on passing downs.
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