In a slogging, quirky game that bordered on tedious much of the time (each team had just three plays longer than 16 yards), the Bears were undone ultimately by a disastrous breakdown in a secondary and coverage that had broken up six Blaine Gabbert passes, limited Anquan Boldin to catching just five of the 13 passes thrown to him (two of seven in the second half), and adjusted generally well to an unsung quarterback on a career resurgence.
The unraveling came on a 71-yard Gabbert-to-Torrey Smith touchdown pass in overtime. The exact coverage is irrelevant except for the fact that not all Bears defensive backs appeared to be playing the same one, eerily similar to the breakdown against the Green Bay Packers in game 16 of 2013, when safety Chris Conte was on one page, other DB’s on another, and Randall Cobb was in the end zone.
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Safety Adrian Amos was lined up on Smith in the slot under what one Bear ID’d as a Cover-3 zone. Safety Chris Prosinski was alone in the deep middle (“a form of single-high coverage,”) according to another Bear. Smith breaking deep and knowing what he had as he drew abreast of Amos, who dropped off into an area of zone responsibility.
“We were just reading [Amos],” Smith said. “I kind of saw him settling and the saying is, ‘If you’re even, you’re leavin’,'” Smith said. We were about even so I knew I was going to be wide open.”
Said Amos: "It was a miscommunication. We gotta look at the film." Prosinski declined getting into specifics or finger-pointing.
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Ironically, coverage on the 49ers’ previous scoring play had been good to the point of Gabbert being forced to hold the football and scramble away from pressure. The problem was that he scrambled 44 yards through the Bears for a tying touchdown run that included several missed tackles.
“Without going too much into our scheme, there were ‘man’ elements to it,” said coach John Fox. “It was a good play on Gabbert’s part. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to.”
Gabbert finished with 18-for-32 passing for 196 yards, the TD pass, zero interceptions and a rating of 84.9. Bryce Callahan was excellent in holding down Boldin, finishing with two passes deflected and four solo tackles, matched by cornerback Kyle Fuller, who also broke up a pass.
Moon's Grade: C-