One thing this year that's been surprising for the Bears defense has been the ability to defend not only the slant, but the TE's this year.
Whelp. Lets throw that out the window this week. San Francisco came to play with a gameplan that exploited what the Bears were doing, and executed it to the point where, well, we know what happened. They looked like fools. But lets take into consideration this week the level of play that the middle of the defense has done against opposing TE's this year. It's common knowledge the best way to attack a Tampa 2 shell is to attack the center with the TE. But, we haven't seen that all that much.
Part of the reason is scheming and talent in the back 7. The Bears have adjusted to the inside vertical seam quite well, which over the past 8 years, the Bears haven't been able to defend with any sort of consistency. This year?
Linebackers have been making plays in bailing with the TE as they try to attack the seam in the Tampa 2. Safeties been playing man and winning against TE's in the single high safety. There was one particular memory, early in the season, which I can't find in my notes, where I watched the TE release on the left side of the formation, and Urlacher bailed with the TE from the middle of the defense, floated down into that deep third, and covered him like a potato sack. The QB tried to fit the ball in the TE, but Urlacher was there on the inside and swatted the ball down.
This past week? Oh, no. None of it worked. No one on Vernon Davis could cover the guy.
Lets take the first up here. Major Wright. I mentioned over on Niners Nation that one of the ways to exploit the Bears when they were in Under 10 coverage was to attack Major Wright in the secondary. I liked Chris Conte's chances against the TE, because he's actually fairly adequate at man coverage, and has good size and speed. Major Wright? Notsomuch on the size nor the man coverage ability.
The 49ers come out in 2TE, 1RB, 1WR, 6 Linemen line. Bears are in Under-10 (Cover 1 man).
Davis goes, gets outside leverage on Wright. And Wright lets him have it. But, that's incorrect.
If you look in the All-22, if Wright tried playing Davis more outside, he would have had help over the middle of the field in both the intermediate and the deep secondary with Urlacher and Conte playing over the middle.
Wright bites on Davis going up the field, and Davis gets that separation, Kapernick gets the touch, bam, boom, Bears look like idiots part 1.
Next up: Lance Briggs, who get torched a few times by Vernon Davis. And the problem here isn't so much that the Bears aren't doing things right, but Vernon Davis gets separation when the Bears are playing man coverage.
Briggs was lined up on the right side of the formation over Davis, and Davis runs a crossing route.
Instead of being passed off like in your typical linebacker Cover 2 in the crossing routes, where the LB's are able to drive on the ball, the Bears are manned up, and Davis' speed and height just dominate Lance Briggs from the snap. His ability to get separation is a function of his speed and hands and size.
Davis beats Briggs, and Davis ends up breaking a few tackles en route to a 32 yard gain from 2nd and 3.
Last play was a Zone Blitz by the Bears.
Nate Collins lined up outside of Israel Idonije who's in a 2 point stance, and Conte blitzes off the edge while the inside of the line stunts. Davis, in the slot, gets paired against Idonije for the first leg of his route.
Good call by the Bears puts a big body in front of Davis on the blitz, especially with one as athletic as Izzy, but Kapernick puts the ball into a spot where Davis has Idonije beat by a hand length.
People would call this 'throwing the ball into triple coverage'. But Kapernick has an arm, like Cutler, and when you trust in an arm like that, you can make those throws that you know your receiver can get.
CBS Sports', Gene Chamberlain notes:
"They exposed the fact that the Bears safeties cannot play man-to-man coverage by isolating them on tight end Vernon Davis, who has wide receiver speed."
He's right to a point. But it wasn't both of the safeties here. It was primarily Major Wright being exposed in man coverage from the safety position. I have a feeling that Jim Harbaugh saw that and when the matchup was there, Major Wright got torched.
Lance Briggs was the other candidate for this position. On man coverage routes, he just didn't have the ability to get to Davis and cover him adequately.
Story of the night when it came to Vernon Davis. Bears got sucked into playing man coverage, Bears got exploited while playing man. San Francisco - 1, Chicago - 0.