SANTA CLARA -- When quarterback Nick Mullens saw the 49ers’ game plan during the week, he felt confident the formula was in place to upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
And after the 49ers’ 14-9 loss at Levi’s Stadium, Mullen said most everything played out just as he had expected. Everything, that is, except the 49ers' failure to make plays in the clutch.
“We knew they were a good defense,” Mullens said. “But I feel like if we just stayed balanced, went out and executed and did our jobs, we felt like we had a great chance in this ballgame.
“It ended up being the exact type of game we thought. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it was going to be tough. But we knew we’d also have opportunities. So it was exactly what we wanted. We just didn’t take advantage and finish.”
The 49ers advanced inside the Chicago 20 on three consecutive drives in the second quarter. Each time, the 49ers came out of it with a Robbie Gould field goal. Gould improved on his field-goal accuracy, which ranks No. 2 in NFL history. But that is not what interested the 49ers on this day.
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Mullens saw opportunities slip away that could have enabled the 49ers to pull off their third victory in a row. Instead, the 49ers fell to 4-11, and Mullens was left disappointed, thinking about the team’s failed chances.
Mullens was especially disappointed in two fourth-quarter plays that proved pivotal.
The 49ers had a first-and-10 at the Bears’ 20, when he led Marquise Goodwin too much on a crossing route. Goodwin got both hands on the ball, but it deflected to Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan for the interception.
“I feel like it’s just a stupid turnover,” Mullens said. “It’s not ‘Quise’s fault. I didn’t feel like it was my fault. The way the ball tipped, it went into the guy’s hands.
"It’s a frustrating turnover. It’s definitely a preventable one. Just can’t let those things happen.”
Then, Mullens could have easily picked up the first down on a fourth-and-4 play that originated at the Chicago 45 with 1:14 remaining. But instead of running for the yardage and getting out of bounds, Mullens threw deep out of bounds to end the 49ers' hopes.
Still, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan saw the positives in Mullens’ performance after he completed 22 of 38 passes for 241 yards and no touchdowns with the one interception. Mullens was not sacked.
“Going against that defense is a very big challenge, and it’s as good of a pass rush as I’ve seen and that tied with the sound coverages and scheme,” Shanahan said. “That’s a challenge. He did a good job today, especially throwing it 38 times, protecting the ball fairly well.
“I know we’d like to have that one (interception) back, but it definitely wasn’t a bad decision. Just a hair off ‘Quise’s hand. He hung in there. Everyone misses a couple, but he also made a couple that weren’t there. I thought Nick, under the circumstances, played very well.”