Chicago’s 14-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers was not the Bears’ best performance of the year, but the team did just enough to get the win and solidify at least a top-three seed in the NFC Playoffs.
1. Bend But Don’t Break
Chicago is known for its ferocious defense, and especially for the ridiculous number of sacks and takeaways the team generally picks up every week. On Sunday, it was a modest performance for the Bears, with just one sack and one takeaway in the form of a Danny Trevathan interception.
However, it was enough for a third win in a row. Chicago’s defense allowed less than 300 total yards to San Francisco, and even more impressively, did not allow a touchdown for the second time in three weeks, an amazing feat in itself. While the Niners are not a top offense, the Bears can play with anyone when they do not allow multiple scores.
2. Money Mitch
Mitchell Trubisky put up one of his most complete performances on Sunday. The numbers don’t pop off the page with 246 yards and one touchdown, but he was an incredibly accurate 25-of-29 on the day, and made big throws when he needed, including a dime to Allen Robinson on a pivotal third down in the fourth quarter.
Trubisky made a major mistake early which led to a fumble and a turnover but was smart and accurate throughout the rest of the close contest. With Chicago’s defense, if Trubisky can play mistake-free football, the other side of the ball can carry this team in the playoffs.
3. TEAM Effort
Not that there was any doubt, but this Chicago Bears team loves its quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, and is not afraid to take punishment to stand up for him. In the second half, Trubisky picked up a few yards on the ground and was sliding down as many quarterbacks do, when 49ers safety Marcell Harris got down and hit Trubisky in the head.
Within a second, Harris was surrounded by Bears players on the sideline, including the relentless efforts from Kyle Long, Anthony Miller and Josh Bellamy to stand up for their quarterback, which led to a mini-brawl. Within the scrum, Miller shoved and Bellamy threw punches, so the two of them were disqualified.
In the moment, players react and it is never beneficial to get kicked out. However, Trubisky is a young, developing quarterback, and having that level of support from his teammates means a lot, as he reiterated in his press conference, stating: “It was awesome seeing my teammates have my back like that, and I hope they know I have theirs too.”
4. Run Game
Chicago’s run game wasn’t quite as efficient as it has been, as the Bears ran for 90 yards on 28 carries for one touchdown. However, the important thing is that guys are getting touches in the backfield, primarily Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
It is incredibly important to have a balanced offense in the playoffs. It is even more important when the Bears are likely to face some high-powered offenses like the Saints and the Rams. The more the run game can get going and be successful, the less time those offenses are on the field, which is a win for both sides of the ball for Chicago.
It may seem like a minor issue, especially when the Bears have won three in a row and eight out of nine, but the kicking game has to be more reliable. Period.
If Nick Mullens decided to run and picked up the first down in the final two minutes, Cody Parkey’s missed 37-yard field goal attempt very much could have cost Chicago the win.
When teams with much more talent and depth take on the Bears in the playoffs, every point matters. This is especially true when the attempts aren’t too far out and should be no doubt of scoring three points. Parkey has improved in the second half of the season, but needs to be consistent.
Bears-49ers Postgame Podcast
If you’re looking for more coverage on the Bears’ 11th victory of the season, make sure to check out our in-depth postgame podcast.