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Bears Vs Niners: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

We're going over our notes and other minutiae from last night's game against the 49ers.

Jeff Gross

A little behind-the-scenes for you of the creation of Notes: For night games, I like to try to keep a running notes sheet going, both so I get a head start before sleeping for work the next morning and because I might not get a chance to recheck things. Instead of cleaning it up, I figured for the first part of today's piece, we can share in the roller-coaster that was the Bears falling behind early and their surge back to the lead in the fourth quarter.

  • Shaun Draughn on the failed block for the punt block. He was just simply beat off the edge and never won the matchup from the word go. Coupled (nay, especially) with Senorise Perry on kick returns, why are the Bears carrying four running backs again?
  • No delay of game on the first touchdown? The play clock was expired for a full second. They really need to come up with a better way to figure out when the play clock expires.
  • The first read option went straight to Shea McClellin with a leading fullback. They ran another quarterback option keeper later in the quarter at McClellin - on both plays, he does a good job of at least holding steady and not being blocked out of the play, maintaining position and waiting for help. The problem is, the help showed up late, especially on the second one. Getting off blocks was a problem he had as a defensive end, though; he'll need to improve at that.
  • Can we please, please, please stop it with these third down penalties that extend drives for the opposition? Third and 20, to 3rd and 15, then Kyle Fuller's defensive holding takes the defense from off the field to right back on with first and ten.
  • I mean, when the Niners do it, I don't mind, but... Please don't do it yourselves, Bears.
  • Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery really don't look like they have their usual burst downfield, especially Jeffery. Jeffery really looked hobbled running straight down the field, not really fluid. Martellus Bennett's gotten a lot of work in the middle of the field.
  • On Bennett's overturned 22-yard completion ruled incomplete as he "did not exhibit control" - I can't agree with it. I didn't see it hit the ground, and he looked like he controlled it in until it was struck. If that disrupts his control enough to not make the catch all the way three steps later to the ground, sure - but that seemed complete to me.
  • Chris Conte looks really settled in right now, especially with his diving interception on Colin Kaepernick. Conte is at best a ballhawk, and he showed it there.
  • I think they just called a penalty on you for watching this game. Yes, you.
  • Good to know the Bears still can't tackle.
  • Jared Allen's first big play of the year is forcing a fumble on Kaepernick making a break up the middle of the field. Raise your hand if that was the first big play you had him making over him picking up a sack.
  • Two turnovers, two three-and-outs, a combined -18 yards. Yes, negative eighteen.
  • Brandon Marshall finally caught his first two passes of the game late in the second quarter, including an outstanding one-handed touchdown to pull in a high ball from Cutler. At least his hands still work. Also, keep in mind on that drive, Cutler took a strong helmet to the chest, and he still stayed in and completed the touchdown drive.
  • Halftime thought: The Niners have moved the ball decently well, but the Bears' defense (when not committing bad penalties) has not been bad. The Niners also haven't run the ball as much with Frank Gore as one might expect. At halftime, the Niners ran twelve times for 75 yards.
  • But it is also incredibly apparent the offense didn't do anything to really prepare for life without a fully healthy Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The only time the offense really moved was on the drive to end the half when they finally got the ball to Marshall for the touchdown. They need something in the passing game to step up as a threat when Jeffery and Marshall don't show the ability to consistently do so, and very few snaps for Chris Williams didn't really indicate much in the way of that. The Niners had no reason to respect the Bears' deep offense, and the Bears' short offense suffered because of it.
  • Oh look, Allen crashes inside, gets shoved away, Kaepernick rushes for nine yards and nearly a first down.
  • Willie Young just might be something, especially against the run. He had several good flashes in this one.
  • It's amazing how many injuries this team has already had to contend with this early in the season, though Charles Tillman's triceps injury has the potential to end his career. Which really is a terrible thing.
  • Jeremiah Ratliff suffered a concussion as well, and Will Sutton got plenty of extra snaps for it. Admittedly, he might be ready for a bigger role.
  • The Bears' second touchdown drive featured a touchdown to Brandon Marshall - big surprise - but also receptions by Santonio Holmes, Dante Rosario, and Matt Forte as the team made its way 80 yards down the field.
  • The Bears seized the momentum of the game in a strong way; immediately after the touchdown, Kaepernick's pass hits his receiver, but Fuller takes it away for an interception. The question becomes, why didn't the Niners try to re-establish the run to reset things?
  • The touchdown to Martellus Bennett was simply a toss to the corner of the end zone, with a short field created by the defense, to take the lead. Raise your hand if you thought there was any way the Bears were going to take the lead after the way this game started. The thing is, turnovers and short fields can make things so incredibly easy on an offense, especially when it's been struggling most of the game and has only just recently started to put things together.


That's where the note sheet ended, so, how about some actual gathered thoughts on last night's game?

  • If I *whistle* see another yellow *whistle* flag thrown about last *whistle* night's game... *whistle whistle whistle*
  • Joking aside, the Bears and Niners spent a fair amount of time keeping each other's drives going with ill-timed third down penalties. The Bears alone had six extensions of a drive thanks to those 49er penalties, not to mention the difference in turnovers - four for San Francisco, zero for the Bears. Most times, if you win the turnover battle by four and you commit six less penalties (for 60 less penalty yards), you're suppose to win the game. That should probably share something about just how bad the offense was in the first half, especially when those first two turnovers (Allen's forced fumble, Conte's pick) both led to three and outs.
  • The Fuller interceptions both led to touchdowns on five combined plays for 45 yards. Conte's interceptions suck.
  • Jay Cutler is a resilient quarterback. We know this. But while the start was pure misery, he seemed to pick it up once he got drilled with Quinton Dial's helmet, and especially once he started getting Marshall involved. This offense really needs Marshall (and Jeffery) to function at its highest. Marshall's yardage may not have been there, but once he scored the first touchdown, everything else opened up in the second half once Marshall showed his hands were still healthy.
  • The Bears picked up more sacks than the 49ers. The Bears picked up four sacks. Some of that may have been Kaepernick keeping plays alive, sure, but there were plenty of good things in the Bears' pass rush in the second half. Will Sutton can get after the passer. Stephen Paea had a strong game up the middle against Mike Iupati. And Willie Young is so far looking like the best pickup of the Big Three Ends.
  • Shea McClellin got his first sack as a linebacker. Let's let that sink in for a second, because he notched his first official sack before Jared Allen did.
  • I kept seeing comparisons of Kyle Fuller to Charles Tillman covering Randy Moss in Tillman's rookie year. While he may have pulled the first ball away from the receiver, there was no way he was targeted on that second one - that was an outstanding athletic play. This could be a thing - especially if he has to see extended prime time due to Tillman's injury.
  • Jay Cutler's fourth quarter: 5/5, 51 yards, 3 TDs. You don't do much better than that.
  • For all the penalties throws: the Bears took 10 for 58 yards; the 49ers took 16 for 118 yards. It really can't be said enough what not committing as many penalties and not committing as many turnovers can do for your team.
  • The Bears allowed 4.8 yards per rush; not bad, considering the longest rush allowed on the day was 19 yards. Also kind of funny that for as much of a "Run, run, run" game this was shaping up to be for both sides, it turned into 73 combined dropbacks to 44 rushes. Jay Cutler had the day's longest run. No joke.
  • Lance Briggs eventually put together a decent day, but there was a time I thought McClellin might have been the best Bears' linebacker on the field.
  • Have to admit that it's kind of awesome Pat O'Donnell didn't step on the field at all in the second half.
  • One of the things Sam and I discussed in the livestream yesterday was the defense being a reason the team won the game. The defense overall had a really good game, and did just that.

On that note, I'm not sure what else there is to say. The Bears had so much against them - new stadium hype, flying to the west coast, crushed by losing to the Bills, with the top two targets hampered, starting two backup offensive linemen, and falling behind 17-0... And still finding a way to pull the game out in the fourth quarter.

Do you feel any better about this team after their win last night?