Reading the keys: 49ers/Bears

How the 49ers fared Monday night in nine keys to the game identified before their 32-7 blowout of the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park.

Colin Kaepernick keeps a cover on football
YES:
There was plenty of concern how Kaepernick, who had fumbled three times in limited playing time this season, would be able to protect the football against the opportunistic Chicago defense, particularly when plays break down and he resorts to scrambling in the open field. But Kaepernick put those concerns to rest with a virtually mistake-free game in which he didn't even come close to turning over the football against a Bears defense that had a NFL-high 30 takeaways entering the game. Kap even managed to pull down the football and hang onto it when he was crunched by two defenders simultaneously in the second quarter, the only time Kaepernick was sacked during the game.

Stuff Matt Forte and force Bears offense to the air
YES:
Forte moved the pile forward on a few early runs, but he spent the rest of the evening banging his head into San Francisco's aggressive front wall with little success. Forte averaged just 3.0 yards a carry on his 21 totes as the Bears were able to sustain only three drives beyond three plays during the night. Chicago had eight three-and-out possessions, mainly because Forte couldn't move the chains on the early downs and Chicago had to go to the air after that, converting on just three of 12 third-down opportunities.

Keep pounding with power with Frank Gore and ground game
YES:
Gore was a power plug for the offense as usual, bulling and bursting his way through Chicago's fourth-ranked rushing defense for 78 hard-earned yards on 17 carries, averaging 4.6 yards a pop and giving San Francisco the running threat it needed to open the airwaves for its passing game. Kendall Hunter also contributed 27 yards on five carries, including a 14-yard touchdown blast up the middle, as the 49ers lived up to their billing as the NFL's No. 1 rushing team, finishing with 123 yards on the ground.

Make Jason Campbell look and perform like a backup quarterback
YES:
Campbell and the Chicago offense went nowhere all evening, particularly Campbell, who was harassed unmercifully while being sacked six times and hit at least 11 times overall, leaving him beaten and weary afterward. Campbell also was intercepted twice, fumbled twice and finished with a dreary passer rating of 52.7 while completing 14 of 22 passes for just 107 yards. Campbell led the Bears into San Francisco territory just twice the entire game and seven of the Bears' offensive possessions never made it past the Chicago 30-yard line.

Give Kaepernick the freedom to utilize his cannon arm and quick feet
YES:
Many expected the 49ers to come out with a conservative attack in Kaepernick's first career start, but San Francisco's offensive game plan was having none of that. The 49ers allowed Kap to go to the air early and often and let loose with his strong arm for passes down the field, including long gains of 57 yards to Kyle Williams, 37 yards to Mario Manningham and 32 yards to Vernon Davis. Kaepernick averaged an impressive 9.3 yards per passing play while throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 133.1. He added 12 yards rushing on the ground.

Don't get beat by Brandon Marshall
YES:
Marshall had NFC-leading totals of 67 catches and 904 receiving yards to go with seven touchdowns through the air entering the game, but he was shut down and shut out in the first half, when he had no receptions while only being targeted once. Marshall finished with just two receptions for 21 yards, using his size and athleticism to go up in the air over Chris Culliver to catch a 13-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to provide the Bears with their only score. But the Bears already were behind 27-0 by then.

Return to superiority on special teams
YES:
The Niners held the upper hand on special teams against Chicago's fine units, limiting the dangerous Devin Hester to an average of negative-0.3 yards on his three punt returns, which included one return that lost nine yards. Andy Lee dropped all four of his punts inside the Chicago 20-yard line and San Francisco's special teams helped the Niners win the battle of field position throughout the evening. David Akers shook off his shaky effort last week against St. Louis by drilling all three of his field-goal attempts and Ted Ginn's 12-yard punt return was the longest of the game.

Break even or better in the turnover battle
YES:
Chicago led the NFL with 30 turnovers and led the NFC with a turnover differential of plus-14 entering the game, but it was the Niners taking the ball away from the Bears on Monday while protecting it flawlessly themselves. San Francisco intercepted Campbell twice and also forced three fumbles that all were recovered by the Bears. The 49ers had no turnovers on offense to win the turnover battle 2-0, keeping their turnovers lost total at nine for the season, one of the lowest totals in the league.

Be the best defense on the field
YES:
In the battle between a San Francisco defense ranked No. 3 in the NFL and a Chicago defense ranked No. 5, it was absolutely no contest. The Niners dominated on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense, where they allowed the Bears just 143 yards of total offense – the second-lowest total surrendered in a NFL game this season. Meanwhile, the 49ers were having little trouble moving the football against Chicago's defense, scoring on each of their first four offensive drives and putting up 249 yards of total offense against the Bears in the first half alone.


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