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Maiocco: Jimmy G, 49ers' play vs. Bears lifts pressure for now

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The 49ers’ victory over the Chicago Bears was nothing special.

But on this day, under these circumstances, the 49ers passed the test and became reinvigorated with hope.

Coach Kyle Shanahan likely is a bad poker player. It was easy to sense the frustration in his body language and voice during the 49ers’ four-game losing streak.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, coming off his worst game of the season, had not inspired much confidence.

Garoppolo's clock appeared to be ticking with rookie Trey Lance waiting for the call in the bullpen.

“The noise is going to be there — good, bad or indifferent,” Garoppolo said following the 49ers' 33-22 victory over the Bears. “It's just part of the job.

“But whenever you get a chance to come into another team's house and do what we did, it's always a good thing.”

Shanahan still believes Garoppolo gives the 49ers the best chance to win. At times, that was difficult to see over the first six games of the season.

Shanahan does not believe Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, is ready. And Shanahan does not believe that all experience is good experience for young quarterbacks.

The organization plans on Lance being the starter for a long, long time, and they believe patience is the best plan of attack. Every level of the organization appears to buy into that strategy.

The 49ers saw it both ways on Sunday against Bears rookie Justin Fields.

 

It was clear in Lance’s start against the Arizona Cardinals three weeks ago that the offense’s best chance at success was with him running the ball.

Lance had 89 yards rushing on 16 carries. Shanahan will not turn the offense over to Lance until he is equally confident in his ability to manage the team’s passing game.

The 49ers are 3-4 and still in the mix for one of the seven playoff spots in the NFC. The Bears on Sunday gave them an up-close look at the drawback of starting a quarterback before he is ready.

Fields is quite a talent. His 22-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play was an incredible achievement of athletic ability.

But, like Lance a few weeks back, Fields’ best chance for success right now is as a runner. He gained 103 yards rushing on 10 carries against the 49ers.

Meanwhile, the Bears’ passing game has been abysmal.

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Fields made his sixth start on Sunday. Chicago has yet to produce more than 185 yards of net passing in any game this season with Fields.

He showed some flashes early in the game, as the Bears converted six of eight third-down opportunities in the first half.

But Fields completed 19 of 27 pass attempts for just 175 yards. He was sacked four times for minus-27 yards. The Bears averaged just 4.8 yards per pass play. With Garoppolo, the 49ers averaged 11.5 yards per pass.

Shanahan is not being stubborn with his decision to stick with Garoppolo. He is being pragmatic.

There really has not been a decision to be made at quarterback for the 49ers, yet.

Garoppolo’s performance against the Indianapolis Colts, coupled with the four-game losing streak, prompted loud cries for the Lance era to begin.

But the game against the Bears was not the right time, as Lance was coming off a knee injury and had not practiced in 2 1/2 weeks.

Perhaps, if Garoppolo had again performed poorly, a change could have been considered for the upcoming return game against the Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.

Now is not the time for that, either.

Garoppolo completed 17 of 28 passes for 322 yards, and showed a lot of fire with two touchdown runs in the 49ers’ 33-22 victory over the Bears.

He did not panic on a broken play and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. He celebrated with a robust spike in the end zone.

Then, when he kept on a read-option and scored on a 5-yard run, he gladly signed off on a $7,210 fine he will receive for throwing the ball into the crowd at Soldier Field.

Afterward, Shanahan let off some steam with an expletive-laden postgame address to his team. Garoppolo enthusiastically let a few choice words fly, too.

The 49ers finally had a reason to feel good about themselves and celebrate a victory for the first time since Sept. 19.

As nice as this win felt for the 49ers, it did not solve anything.

There is a long season ahead. If Garoppolo and the 49ers do not find consistency in Week 9 against the NFC West-leading Cardinals, they will immediately find themselves back where they were a week ago.

 

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