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What we learned as Jimmy G powers 49ers to win over Bears

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Jimmy G

CHICAGO — Jimmy Garoppolo returned to the site of his first start as a member of the 49ers.

And all indications are that he played well enough to make sure it was not his final start with the organization.

The 49ers on Sunday snapped a four-game losing streak with a 33-22 over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and improved to 3-4 this season.

Garoppolo, who grew up just north of Chicago in Arlington Heights, led an offense that did not punt or commit any turnovers.

Garoppolo completed 17 of 28 passes for 322 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He scored two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 5 yards.

The 49ers’ game against the Bears (3-5) figured to be the easiest matchup before facing the top two teams in the NFC West, Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, in back-to-back weeks.

Here are the three top takeaways from the 49ers’ Week 8 game against the Bears:

Samuel, Aiyuk finally team up

There was a Brandon Aiyuk sighting at Soldier Field.

The second-year pro struggled mightily to get going this season, but he looked more like his rookie self on Sunday.

Garoppolo targeted him five times in the first half, and Aiyuk caught three passes for 44 yards. He finished with four catches for 45 yards. His catch for a successful two-point conversion gave the 49ers a 23-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Aiyuk’s previous best game this season was a three-catch, 37-yard showing against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. Through six games, Aiyuk had just nine catches for 96 yards.

 

Aiyuk’s production is a key for the 49ers as they enter the second half of their season. In his first NFL season, he had 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns.

Deebo Samuel was the 49ers’ only reliable wide receiver through six games, and he continued his strong season.

Samuel kept the 49ers in the game against the Bears with two big plays. He had a 50-yard reception in the final minute of the first half that led to a field goal.

Then, on the 49ers’ first drive of the second half, he had 87 yards of run after the catch on a pass he caught 4-yard behind the line of scrimmage. His career-long reception set up Garoppolo’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Samuel ended up with six catches for 171 yards.

Third-down woes on both sides

The 49ers’ difficulties on third down are nothing new to the offense.

On Sunday, the defense was inexplicably bad against the team that entered the week with the worst conversion rate in the league.

The Bears entered the game with a 31.3-percent success rate on third downs. But they converted 6 of 7 to open the game, which enabled Chicago to take a 13-9 lead at halftime.

Former 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin got involved on the Bears’ first drive of the second half with a 22-yard reception on a third-and-13 play. Chicago ended up settling for a short field goal at the end of the drive.

On the other side, the 49ers picked up a first down on their first third down of the game. The drive ended with Joey Slye’s missed field goal from 48 yards. After that, the 49ers failed on four consecutive third downs. 

Kicking game does not meet Gould standard

The 49ers are hoping they will not have to call on Slye again.

Robbie Gould, who sustained a groin injury in pregame warmups before the 49ers-Seahawks game on Oct. 3, took the field long before pregame warmups on Sunday. The 49ers expect him to be back in uniform when they play the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

“I hope he's back,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on Friday. “Well, we'll see that. That was the goal for it. We'll test them here come next Monday, Tuesday.”

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Slye left some points on the field for the 49ers. He missed wide right on a 48-yard attempt in the first quarter.

In the third quarter, Slye missed an extra point after the 49ers had pulled to within one point at 16-15.

Missed extra points are nothing new to Slye, who has made just 72 of his 82 extra-point attempts in his NFL career.