Bears

For the defense, plenty of 'F's' to go around

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For the defense, plenty of 'F's' to go around

SAN FRANCISCO The 49ers put 10 points squarely on the defense in the first two possessions and six minutes, more points than any opponent has scored in a first quarter all season and this with a quarterback making a first NFL start.

With three minutes to play in the second quarter the Bears already had allowed more yards (241) to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers than they gave the St. Louis Rams (160), Jacksonville Jaguars (189) and Houston Texans (215) for their entire games.

One player said that the defense expected Kaepernick to throw an interception or two. That points to perhaps taking a virtual rookie too lightly, which appeared the case at times judging from the results. It was a complete whipping in all areas.

DEFENSIVE LINE: F

No lineman had more than Julius Peppers two tackles and Kaepernick was hit just four times, two of those by linebackers. Corey Wootton started for Israel Idonije and shared a sack with Idonije, but the Bears got next to no pressure throughout and that exposed a secondary that had its own problems giving up big plays.

The 49ers ran for 123 yards, down from their league-leading 170 per game, and Frank Gore finished with 78. But while Gore and Kendall Hunter had no gain longer than 14 yards, the linemen were consistently out of their gaps and allowing blockers and backs to reach the second level. Some was the result of missed tackles but too often there was only one Bear at the point of contact.

LINEBACKERS: D-

Like the linemen, backers were not fast enough with run fills after when the front four were being handled. Scheme may have placed individuals in difficult spots, and tight end Vernon Davis caught six of the eight passes thrown to him, although not all on linebackers.

Lance Briggs had six tackles and Brian Urlacher seven, and each had a tackle for loss. Briggs and Nick Roach each had a hit on Kaepernick. But 49ers running backs Gore and Hunter averaged nearly five yards per carry, too often getting yards after first contact.

SECONDARY: F-

One of the worst performances in some time by virtually the entire defensive backfield.

Chris Conte got the Bears off to a dismal start by committing a stupid late-hit personal foul on the games first play. That was just the beginning.

Kelvin Hayden was beaten badly for a 57-yard gain on the 49ers second series, setting up a TD pass to Davis, who was completely lost by Major Wright. When the 49ers missed on a second-quarter pass to set up a third-and-long, Wright was holding to give away the red-zone first down.

Wright, who led the Bears with eight solo tackles, missed a third-down tackle of Michael Crabtree to allow a conversion on a second-quarter drive.

Tim Jennings was credited with five solo tackles but he whiffed on a tackle for a 37-yard completion on a drive that ended with Charles Tillman losing Crabtree for 10-yard TD pass in the third quarter.

COACHING: F

The 49ers came out with formations and play designs they had not shown previously and the Bears were completely outplayed as well as unable to adjust. San Francisco used jumbo packages and had man advantages repeatedly at points of attack, then isolated Davis on linebackers and safeties in single coverages they couldnt execute.

Whether the problems were because of what San Francisco was showing or exactly what was difficult to discern. The 49ers appeared to use some of the Houston scheme for stretching the front seven, which lost gaps repeatedly and appeared to take a young quarterback lightly.

SPECIAL TEAMS

What was expected by many to be a close and low-scoring game that might turn on a special-teams play turned out to be a blowout with special-teams figuring into virtually none of the outcome.

KICKING: B

Adam Podlesh put some questions about his punting to rest with an average of 46.8 yards on five kicks. One was dropped inside the San Francisco 5-yard line.

COVERAGE: C

Ted Ginn Jr. averaged 21 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 23. Ginn ran back four punts for an average of five yards per return.

RETURNS: D

Devin Hester averaged 25.2 yards on five kickoff returns, consistently getting up the field, just against solid coverage units that maintained their lanes. But returning punts was another matter. Hester had several respectable returns but his minus-9 on a late punt in the third quarter was a small shot of wrong-way for an offense that was doing enough of it on its own. He took a fourth-quarter punt inside the 5, ran sideways and barely made the 10.

COACHING: C

The Bears did so little scoring that kickoff-coverage units were seldom used but punt coverage was well schooled.

Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010

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AP

Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010

The Bears accomplished Goal No. 1 for 2018 on Sunday, beating the Green Bay Packers 24-17 at Soldier Field to clinch their first NFC North crown — and playoff berth — in eight years. 

In doing so — and in tandem with the Minnesota Vikings’ win over the Miami Dolphins — the Bears also eliminated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from the playoffs. That’ll only make the biggest “Club Dub” celebration of 2018 even sweeter. 

The Bears showed the kind of improvements that’ve been building all season since blowing a 20-point lead at Lambeau Field in Week 1. This was a team that, with the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, made the kind of plays in the final 15 minutes necessary to vanquish a Rodgers-led Packers side. Mitch Trubisky threw a touchdown to a wide-open Trey Burton. Tarik Cohen darted 44 yards on a punt return. Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack tormented Rodgers to force back-to-back three-and-outs while the offense put up 10 points to take the lead. 

And when Rodgers drove Green Bay into the red zone late in the fourth quarter, Eddie Jackson hauled in a tipped pass for an interception that ended Rodgers’ streak without a pick at 402 passes. Perhaps the only thing that went wrong in the fourth quarter for the Bears was Jackson suffering an injury on that interception and limping into the locker room.  

This was a massively important win for the Bears beyond officially clinching the division, an achievement that seemed inevitable with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Vikings heading into the season’s final three games. The Bears ended an eight-game home losing streak against the Packers, including the 2011 NFC Championship, proving that this division-winning team is opening a new chapter in this storied rivalry. 

The Bears can now turn their focus to finishing the season on a high note with not only a playoff spot locked in, but in all likelihood, the NFC’s No. 3 seed. The next time the Bears will be at Soldier Field, it’ll be for a playoff game. 

And taking a step back: That’s an incredible achievement for Matt Nagy and this franchise, one which has endured so much losing over the last few years. 

The Bears are going to the playoffs, and they confirmed that against the Packers. It’s hard to imagine a sweeter sentence for fans to read.

White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training

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USA TODAY

White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training

Eloy Jimenez will be ending his winter ball a bit earlier than expected. 

According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the White Sox are likely to shut down Jimenez (quad injury) until spring training.

As Levine points out, the White Sox top prospect was scheduled to be shut down next week.

James Fegan of The Athletic reported on Saturday that Jimenez had been dealing with a quad injury and was day-to-day, so it's no surprise the White Sox want to play it safe with a guy they believe has superstar potential.

In eight games, Jimenez hit .448/.500/.759 for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.

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