Lovie Smith has always wanted to "get off the bus running," but he never intended the expression to apply to his defense. The 49ers offensive line, however, had other ideas: they opened up wide running lanes that allowed Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to get past our All-Pro linebackers and gain big yards. When the Bears had the ball, the story was the exact opposite. The 49ers defensive line and linebackers were able to shut down the Bears run game, forcing Jason Campbell into third-and-longs and sacks a-plenty. The numbers tell the tale pretty well:
This pretty picture breaks out every run tackle in the game by position, with combined tackles getting added into the columns of both players involved - this is why the tackle totals are a bit higher than the actual run plays executed by each team. In any case, the differences here are pretty striking. The Bears were consistently getting stopped either at the line of scrimmage by a defensive linesman or getting tripped up by the linebackers at the next level of the defense. You have to admire Tice for his tenacity in continuing to call between-the-tackles runs even as it became clear that they weren't going to do much - there's that dedication to the run we've all been looking for! - but the Bears' inability to get past the front line of the 49ers' D was one of the game's many low-lights. All credit is due to the 49ers' D for putting in a strong performance against what has occasionally appeared to be a good run-blocking offensive line. No credit is due to the Bears' offensive line or play-calling, however. Stale plays, no results.
The Bears had the opposite luck on defense: their defensive linesmen and linebackers were blocked out of significantly more plays than their San Francisco counterparts were. The creative, dominating performance by the 49ers offense gave Gore and Hunter plenty of easy run yards and forced the Bears safeties and cornerbacks to work overtime in run support. The safeties were also called on to clean up some surprising mistakes by the linebackers, including multiple missed tackles by Brian Urlacher. In short, the defensive linesmen couldn't beat a block, the linebackers couldn't tackle when they weren't blocked, which meant the safeties and cornerbacks ended up getting a workout chasing down plays. If it's any consolation, at least Bears fans finally got to see what a real offensive line looks like.
No tape breakdown this week, as I simply can't stomach rewatching this turkey of a game. Thankfully, the Bears have a nice chance to rebound against the even-more-inconsistent Minnesota Vikings this week. While the Bears might have been caught somewhat off guard by the debut performance of Colin Kaepernick, they've seen more than enough of Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson to know how to stop them. Maybe this time the Bears can add in a dash or two of execution into the mix.