Numbers can be misleading and lacking context, but not these:
Coming into the Bears game on Sunday, lost by his team 26-6, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was averaging 361 combined passing and rushing yards per game this season, including 409 last week against the Miami Dolphins. He was returning to the form that had first appeared, at the Bears’ expense, in Kaepernick’s first start, a 32-7 annihilation of the Bears in 2012.
Against the Bears, Kaepernick lost more yards being sacked five times (minus-25 yards) than he gained with both passing (4) and rushing (20).
“The biggest thing for us was to do blitz, do brush, but always know where he is, know that he could get through a blitz and get out,” said rookie linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, making his third NFL start in place of absent veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. “You had in the back of your mind to always watch him.”
The Bears were exploited last week by mobile Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (226 passing yards, zero sacks, 46 rushing yards). It was a primer for coping with Kaepernick. “The carryover from last week to this week, seeing the same thing two weeks in a row,” Kwiatkoski said, “definitely gets you more comfortable.”
Defensive line: A+
The 49ers began the day as the NFL’s No. 4 rushing offense and did net 122 yards in 30 carries in the first half. But in the second, just 19, and their quarterbacks were sacked a total of six times.
Akiem Hicks had a career game with a team-high 10 tackles, 2 for loss and 2 sacks plus a forced fumble. Hicks posted a TFL of RB Carlos Hyde with perfect technique against an initial double-team. Hicks then showed some foot-quickness, adjusting a rush through the San Francisco middle for a third-quarter sack, then took down Kaepernick again with a spin move on second effort. Kaepernick eventually cracked and was benched for the fourth quarter.
“That’s what you want for every quarterback,” Hicks said. “You want to put fear in him. You want him to throw bad balls. You want him to make bad decisions or throw the ball into the ground. That’s what you’re looking for as a defensive unit – to put fear in the opposing quarterbacks.”
The defense got some much-needed domination inside. Eddie Goldman delivered a crushing inside rush against double-team blocking to set up a first-possession sack of Kaepernick. Goldman followed that with with complete win vs. C Daniel Kilgore for a sack on the second possession.
Goldman finished with 2 tackles but had one for a loss plus his sack. Cornelius Washington added 2 tackles and Mitch Unrein 1.
Leonard Floyd started in his first game back after a missed week and was badly taken out of an edge set by perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley for a 14-yard run. Floyd was completely overmatched early but was able to adjust and finish with 2 sacks, giving him 6 for the season, and 4 tackles plus another hit on Kaepernick. Floyd also netted a safety with his second sack.
“I think early on [Floyd] was OK,” said coach John Fox. “I think the quarterback got out a couple times to their bench. Once [Floyd] got used to to the speed again, getting back out there, I think he responded well.”
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Willie Young was superb holding his outside position and then closing down on Colin Kaepernick for a sack to push YTD total to 7.5, in addition to adding a tackle for loss and second hit on Kaepernick.
Nick Kwiatkoski again started inside and was solid in schemes that often had him as the only true linebacker. Kwiatkoski was credited with 9 tackles, 2 for loss, and also added 2 pass deflections and a handful of strong controlled blitzes that got some penetration against interior linemen.
The defense combined to hold San Francisco to 39 total passing yards, which netted out to 6 after the 33 yards in sack losses were deducted. Kaepernick completed just 1 of 5 attempts and Blaine Gabbert, who broke the Bears’ hearts in the 49ers win here with a 44-yard TD run, completed just 4 of 10. The quarterbacks combined for a rating of 42.4.
“We executed,” said cornerback Tracy Porter. “Offensively, we executed. Special teams, we started off a little slow but we continued to execute. When we can execute, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Cre’Von LeBlanc brought pressure with a superb first-quarter blitz and had 3 solo tackles.
Harold Jones-Quartey was forced into the starting lineup because of Adrian Amos being inactive due to a foot injury, and Jones-Quartey finished with 9 tackles, seven of them solo, and one for loss.
Special teams: D
In a slog of a game and special teams could decide the outcome, the Bears’ ‘teams did influence some the outcome, in all wrong ways. Deonte Thompson fumbled a second-quarter kickoff return, giving the football to the 49ers inside the Chicago 40, this after Bryce Callahan did the offense no favors by fair-catching a second-quarter punt at the Chicago 5. That possession ended with punt but one coming on a delay of game call, and then a punt blocked with a one-man rush on which ex-Bear Shaun Draughn beat an anemic block by TE Ben Braunecker.
After that gaffe produced a 49ers field goal, the Bears bolloxed up the ensuing kickoff, with up-back Paul Lasike finally picking up the football.
Connor Barth converted is one field goal attempt, from 45 yards.