49ers Lose Road Opener

49ers Bears Football

The 49ers lose at Soldier Field. It was a game they were supposed to win and win by a wide margin. The weather had a say. The Bears defense had a say. However, the biggest concern is the discipline of the 49ers themselves. Having watched them live in their last preseason game at Houston, I noted it but quickly dismissed the issue. It seems the 49ers lack of discipline in game three of the pre-season has followed them from Houston to Chicago. Eleven penalties for close to 100 yards cannot happen.

The 49ers controlled much of this game. In fact, they had over 330 yards in total yardage to the Bears 206. Trey Lance ran and threw for more yards than the Bears offense put together. He threw for 164 and ran for another 53. Yards don’t win games. Tackles don’t win games. Points win games. When it counted, the 49ers could not find the points. They had multiple opportunities. They spent those opportunities finding ways to fail instead of win.

Their first opportunity to score was on their first possession of the game, when Deebo Samuel allowed the ball to be punched out of his arms as he ran to the Bears 12-yard line. The Niners second opportunity to score occurred the next possession when Trey Lance overthrew Tyler Croft on a would-be touchdown run. The Niners were forced to punt a few plays later. The next possession Lance failed to execute on a 3rd down throw. That was the pattern of offensive execution. They would get a big play and then peter out. It wasn’t until early in the second quarter the Niners were finally able to put together a scoring drive.

The most disturbing thing about the Niners offense in the first half is the fact that they could not capitalize on favorable field position. They averaged starting on the 40-yard line where as the Bears were always around the 15 yard line when they possessed the ball. Execution matters in the NFL. There are no excuses. Trey Lance learned a valuable lesson on Sunday. You don’t get very many chances to shine and when you do you have to maximize them.

The 49ers spent two and half quarters harassing Justin Fields. If he wasn’t getting sacked, he was still running for his life. Talanoa Hufanga had a coming out party. He tallied 11 tackles, in pass deflection and interception. Hufanga played lights out. He was the one real highlight for the 49ers on Sunday. Too bad the rest of the secondary didn’t follow suit.

The Bears won on the strength of their opportunistic passing game and massive 49ers penalties. During the Bears first offensive possession of the 3rd quarter, the Niners had forced a fourth down and a punt. Unfortunately, Dre Greenlaw collected his third flag of the game, this time for a facemask. As the drive continued, the defensive line was running Fields all over the yard, when he found a wide-open Dante Pettis on a 3rd and long. During the scramble drill, David Montgomery pulled two defenders as he ran parallel to the line of scrimmage leaving Dante Pettis wide open in the hash. Fields somehow found him, and Pettis burned up the secondary for a 51 yard touchdown. The Niners failed to answer, and Fields started slinging the rock again hitting Byron Pringle for 22 yards to start their next drive. The Niners defense was tired. They were getting flagged for pass interference and defensive holds. They were playing in a swamp. They were wore out. Justin Fields hit Equanimeous St. Brown for an 18-yard touchdown to put the Bears head 19 to 10.
I spent a lot of time on the bad and the ugly for the 49ers in this game. The good is that Juan Jennings and Brandon Aiyuk have chemistry with Trey Lance. The good is also the defense as a whole. They really only broke down on three plays; but those three plays led to scores. The bad is all the penalties and lack of discipline. The bad is also the fact that the offensive line broke down at times. I think there is also a concern that the 49ers run Trey Lance too much. He took some hard hits. I also noticed that Coach Shanahan had Lance throwing the ball late in the downs instead of early, especially after the Kroft overthrow. I mention the Kroft overthrow because that was a first down throw. After that, Trey Lance didn’t throw on first down again. Coach Shanahan and Lance have to figure out how to get him in rhythm early in a game. The strength of Lance is his long ball. His weakness, oddly enough, is the short ball. It’s hard to say way why. It could be a footwork issue, a delivery issue or a combination of both. Whatever it is, the issue needs to be cleaned up soon. The 49ers embarrassed themselves on the road. They need to redeem themselves at home when the Seahawks come to town.

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