SANTA CLARA -– The NFC North champion Chicago Bears turned Levi’s Stadium into their West Coast home Sunday.
Thousands of Bears backers invaded Northern California, and the 49ers were unable to beat Chicago at its own game.
The Bears held on for a 14-9 victory, as Nick Mullens threw a desperation fourth-down pass out of bounds when he could have run for the first down from the Chicago 45-yard line with more than a minute to play.
In a game dominated by defense and both offenses lacking in big-play ability, the Bears were able to grind it out to snap the 49ers’ two-game winning streak. Chicago improved to 11-4, while the 49ers fell to 4-11.
Things got heated late in the fourth quarter when 49ers safety Marcell Harris’ late hit on a sliding Mitchell Trubisky led to a scuffle along the Bears sideline.
Cornerback Richard Sherman, and Bears players Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller were ejected from the game for the final five minutes of the game.
Here are three quick takeaways from the game:
Top priority: Re-sign Robbie
Robbie Gould has been darn-near automatic since signing with the 49ers on the first day of NFL free agency in 2017. But the kicker's contract is up at the end of the season, and Gould kept his family in Chicago because of the uncertainty of the offseason.
The 49ers must do everything in their power to keep Gould around. After all, Levi’s Stadium is not an easy venue for kickers. The 49ers need a veteran to handle the chores, and Gould, 36, is one of the best in the history of sport.
On Sunday, Gould made all three of his field-goal attempts. Last year, he kicked five field goals in a 15-14 victory over the Bears, the team for which he played his first 11 NFL seasons.
Gould has made 71 of his 74 field-goal attempts in two seasons with the 49ers, and rates No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time accuracy list.
The battle to keep Mack contained
49ers offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey held up well against Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack, a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Mullens got rid of the ball quickly with three-step drops, and the 49ers made an emphasis on staying out of third-and-long situations. On the 49ers’ first trip inside the red zone, coach Kyle Shanahan opted to take the three points instead of pressing the issue on a third-and-11 play. Running back Jeff Wilson took an inside handoff for 2 yards, as Shanahan decided not to risk a sack and pushing the 49ers out of field-goal range.
Mack became a big factor in the second half, as he had quarterback pressures on three consecutive plays in one three-and-out series.
Because of the Bears’ threat of a pass rush, the 49ers were not able to push the ball down the field. Mullens completed 22 of 38 passes for 241 yards and no touchdowns with one interception.
Goodwin back in every-down role
When the 49ers signed Marquise Goodwin before the 2017 season, they did not envision him being a starter and an every-down player. But Goodwin was back in that role after Dante Pettis left with a knee injury in the first half.
Goodwin was at the center of one of the big plays of the game when a Mullens fourth-quarter pass deflected off his hands, leading to linebacker Danny Trevathan’s interception. The 49ers would like to pick and choose how, when and where to use Goodwin’s speed through the course of a game.
Pettis likely will be a starter next season, and the 49ers have to figure out how to get another starting-caliber wideout on the roster next season. Goodwin played sparingly the past three weeks, as Pettis and Kendrick Bourne were the starters.
After Pettis’ injury, Goodwin played and caught three passes for 29 yards.