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Bears beat 49ers, keep hope alive for a first-round bye

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 23: Roquan Smith #58 of the Chicago Bears sacks Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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The Bears still have a shot at a first-round playoff bye.

That’s because they did what they needed to do today in San Francisco, beating the 49ers in a 14-9 game that saw their defense dominate but their offense and special teams look less than impressive.

The good news for the Bears was that they held the 49ers’ offense largely in check, especially after running back Matt Breida exited with an injury. The Bears’ defense has been strong all year and looks strong heading into the playoffs as well.

The Bears’ offense was not as impressive. Chicago punted three times, Mitchell Trubisky lost a fumble and threw an ugly interception that was called back by a 49ers penalty. Most egregiously, Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson lost a fumble after picking up a first down after the two-minute warning, with the 49ers out of timeouts, when all he had to do was go down and let the Bears kneel three times to ice the game. That gave the 49ers new life, but they weren’t able to do anything with it.

Bears kicker Cody Parkey also missed his only field goal attempt, which is particularly disappointing on a day that former Bears kicker Robbie Gould went 3-for-3 for the 49ers. The 49ers won the special teams battle, even as the Bears won the game.

San Francisco, which drops to 4-11 with the loss, is going nowhere. Chicago, which improves to 11-4, has already clinched the NFC North and will now hope to win next week while the Rams lose, which is what they’ll need to get the first week of the playoffs off.