Bears hang on to hope for a bye with win over 49ers


Bears hang on to hope for a bye with win over 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Bears still have a chance to secure a first-round bye, but in beating the San Francisco 49ers 14-9 on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium also ensured they will be no worse than the NFC No. 3 seed for their first playoff appearance in eight years next month. 

With their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Orleans Saints (13-2) clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 11-4 Bears will finish with a better record than the No. 4-seed Dallas Cowboys (9-6) and could still leapfrog the 12-3 Los Angeles Rams on the final weekend of the season. The Bears would need to beat the Minnesota Vikings a week from Sunday while also having the Rams lose at home to the 49ers for that best-case scenario to come to fruition. 

The Bears’ win over the 49ers on Sunday was not particularly pretty, yet for a team that entered Sunday just 3-3 away from Chicago, it was important. A few poor decisions by Mitch Trubisky in the first half — like his ill-advised lateral that resulted in a lost fumble or an interception in the end zone wiped out by a defensive holding penalty — clouded an otherwise efficient, yet not incredibly productive, game. The Bears seemingly dodged a number of bullets, like a near-lost fumble by Allen Robinson early in the their quarter or that Trubisky interception called back for a holding flag. 

Trubisky, though, completed 25-of-29 passes (86 percent) for 246 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 113.7. Outside of a 43-yard strike to Robinson, Trubisky had another take-what’s-there game, and in the second half made a few key plays to make sure the Bears were able to secure their win — though Robinson’s late fumble did give the 49ers a late chance to win. 

That was after Danny Trevathan’s fourth quarter interception — which came one play after the 49ers converted a third-and-13 and entered the red zone — seemed to effectively seal thing. The Bears’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown for the second time this year, holding the 49ers to three Robbie Gould field goals. Akiem Hicks had a monster game with three pass break-ups at the line, while Roquan Smith notched his fifth sack of the year and Khalil Mack was frequently disruptive.  

With a chance at securing that first-round bye, coach Matt Nagy may not opt to rest his starters next weekend in Minneapolis. While the Bears will need some help in the form of a Rams/Saints loss, Nagy said last week that he’d do whatever he could to earn the first weekend in January off. 

The Bears also could have a hand in who they play in the first round of the playoffs if the Rams/Saints win next week, too. If the Bears beat the Vikings, that could knock Minnesota out of the playoffs with wins by the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks. A loss to Minnesota could, conversely, mean the Vikings come to Soldier Field for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. 

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Eric Ebron interacts with Akiem Hicks' NFC Championship tweet, causing free agency speculation

Eric Ebron interacts with Akiem Hicks' NFC Championship tweet, causing free agency speculation

Just as Bears fans were finally coming to terms with their disappointing 8-8 season, Akiem Hicks decided to pour some salt on the wound and take to Twitter, imagining what it would’ve been like if the Bears had made it to the NFC Championship game.

While we were all imagining how indeed “lit” it would’ve been to see the Bears play in the post-season at Soldier Field, Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron decided to quote tweet Hicks with a thinking face emoji. Curious behavior.

Ebron has played for the Colts since 2018, when he had a stellar first season in Indianapolis, scoring 14 touchdowns. In 2019, Ebron’s season ended after 11 games due to an ankle injury. He scored three touchdowns, reeling in 31 catches for 375 yards. Colts GM Chris Ballad has said that the organization is likely to move on from Ebron in 2020, meaning he would be available in free agency.

Tight end is one of the positions on the Bears long offseason do to list, and Ebron seems he could be a potential fit. Judging by their Twitter interactions, Akiem Hicks and Tarik Cohen seem to think so.

Hicks replied to Ebron telling him he could hear Bears fans calling his name. Cohen echoed this sentiment in his own tweet, albeit more cryptically.

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Ranking the most painful moments for Bears' fans during the 2020 Championship weekend

Ranking the most painful moments for Bears' fans during the 2020 Championship weekend

You may have noticed that none of the four teams that played this weekend were the Chicago Bears. They haven't played since the last week of December, but since this disastrous season won't end for another two weeks, there's been plenty of time for some especially painful parting shots. And weirdly enough, there were multiple moments through the two games on Sunday that reminded Bears' fans about the 8-8 season that absolutely no one is trying to remember. Shall we go through them? OK! 

4. Jimmy Garoppolo Beat The Packers To Go To The Super Bowl With 6 Completions 

Remember when the Bears were going to trade for Jimmy G? Back before they traded up to take Trubisky, rumors were swirling that the Patriots' backup was headed to Chicago. That is what it is -- everyone's connected to everyone at one point or another, and Bears have enough potential QB scenarios to give themselves a stroke over. The real kicker was beating the Packers, and Aaron Rodgers, while attempting eight pass attempts. Remember Nagy's I'm-Not-An-Idiot comment after running the ball 7 times against New Orleans. Imagine that, but it works, and it's in the NFC title game. The Bears couldn't beat the Packers on either occasion this season, and that included 98 pass attempts. That sound you hear is someone (you can choose, really) banging their head against the wall inside of Halas Hall. 

3. Raheem Mostert Rushing For 220 Yards and Four Touchdowns 

Truly an insane night for Mostert. He was briefly on the Bears during the 2016 season, which happened to be Jordan Howard's first and best. Mostert also was on three other teams (NYJ, SF, CLE) that year, and three OTHER teams (PHI, MIA, BAL) the year before, so it's not like the Bears are the only team sitting here with yolk on their face. Still, seeing an NFL journeyman get halfway to the Bears' total rushing touchdown number (8) in one game is the stuff that existential crises are made for. 

2. Robbie Gould's Kicking Well For A Super Bowl Team

Things were all well and good when Eddy Pineiro was hitting game-winners in Denver while Gould got off to one of the worst starts of his career. As the Bears' special teams unit watched from their rented South Beach group house, Gould went 3-3, including a franchise postseason record 54-yarder, in the Niners' 37-20 win. He started the season by being crowned champion of Chicago Football Madness, and now he gets a shot at ending it with another title, even if it's not quite as illustrious as the midwest's premier Bears-only online bracket challenge. 

1. Literally Everything Pat Mahomes Did All Day 

The decision to trade up for Trubisky was bad, but honestly, the endless stream of barely-distinguishable versions of the same snarky tweet may be worse. At some point Bears fans are going to have to come to terms with Pat Mahomes playing for the Chiefs, but it sure as hell won't be this year. In their defense, everything he does makes you physically stop whatever else you're doing and figure out what noise just came out of your mouth. Bears fans are robbing themselves of the best Mahomsian experience by insisting on slamming the Caps Lock button anytime the Chiefs play, but with each new height that Mahomes and the Chiefs reach, it becomes harder and harder to blame them.

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