Infuriated 49ers buried, embarrassed by Bears
The 49ers trailed 10-0 before they even ran their first offensive play, and the scale of damage already was up to 24-0 at the end of the first quarter - the most points scored by Chicago in the 86-year history of one of the NFL's oldest franchises. And it only got worse. The 49ers turned the ball over and over again, the Bears moved through the San Francisco defense with little resistance, the fearsome Chicago defense blasted the Niners at every turn, and the Bears trotted off the field with an almost unfathomable 41-0 lead at halftime - again matching a franchise record for most points through two quarters. "It's definitely a devastating loss for us," 49ers offensive tackle Jonas Jennings said. There still was another half to play, and the 49ers managed to prevent the final outcome from getting much worse, shutting out the Bears in the final two periods thanks to a nice goal-line stand late in the third quarter, then tacking on 10 points in the fourth period as Chicago's starters headed toward the sidelines. But this was another embarrassment of the highest order for the 49ers, and there was no getting around it. They committed four of their five turnovers in the first half - three of them in the first quarter - which allowed the Bears to run away early and put any doubt about the outcome to rest with time still remaining in the opening period. Nolan was almost at a loss for words after his team was walloped again by an avalanche of points. In dropping to 2-5, the 49ers now have allowed 235 points in their seven games, an average of 33.6 per game that puts them on a pace to shatter the franchise record for most points allowed in a season by more than 80. But what's a few more points when you're losing by 30 or so each week? Coming off their bye week, which began after a 48-19 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 15, the 49ers certainly looked no better against the Bears after having an extra week to prepare. San Francisco also has high-scoring losses of 38-24 to Philadelphia and 41-0 to Kansas City on its ledger. "I certainly am very disappointed in the performance," Nolan said. "We shot ourselves in the foot several times and made far too many mistakes in the first half to overcome. That was pretty evident. We just have to do a better job of ball security." Gaining seven yards or more on each of their first five offensive plays, the Bears went right down the field after taking the opening kickoff before two Rex Grossman incompletions halted the drive. The Bears settled for a 43-yard Robbie Gould field goal, and that looked like early progress for the 49ers. But the bad-news blowout kicked into gear one play later when Maurice Hicks hesitated in the end zone after receiving Gould's kickoff, then was crushed by Chicago's coverage team at the 15. Hicks fumbled as he went down in a pile of bodies, Chicago recovered, and the Bears were into the end zone and off to the races three plays later after Thomas Jones bounced away from San Francisco defenders on a 7-yard scoring run that made it 10-0 with just more than four minutes elapsed in the game. The Bears simply made it look too easy as they both crushed and stomped on the 49ers the remainder of the first half. All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher made a spectacular interception when he tipped an Alex Smith pass and caught it with one hand as he was driven into the ground, and the Bears quickly capitalized with another touchdown a few minutes later. On San Francisco's next offensive play, Smith lost a fumble as he attempted to dart away from a collapsing pocket, and the Bears quickly turned that into seven points the other way two plays later. That made it 24-0 - with more than a minute still remaining in the first quarter. "It was amazing," Grossman said. "Twenty-four points in the first quarter? That's pretty impressive, especially in this league. It doesn't happen a lot." It was the same emotion from a different perspective on the other sideline. "One-hand tips and interceptions and things like that … We never really got a chance," Jennings said. "I didn't feel like we got a rhythm until the second half, where we actually put some things together to get out there and get some first downs." That's for sure. It was more of the same in the second quarter as Devin Hester returned a punt 42 yards on the second play of the period, and the Bears cruised in for another touchdown to make it 31-0. They got there by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, getting the touchdown easily when Grossman hit a wide-open Desmond Clark in the end zone after the 49ers were fooled badly by a play-action pass. After another Gould field goal made it 34-0, the 49ers showed some signs of life, entering Chicago territory for the first time before punting the ball back to the Bears with 1:12 remaining in the half. At their own 30, the Bears seemed content to just run out the clock. But two rushes by Cedric Benson netted 17 yards, and a short dump-off pass to fullback Jason McKie went for a 26-yard gain when cornerback Shawntae Spencer missed a tackle horribly on the sideline. On the next play, with 16 seconds left in the half, Grossman found Clark wide open in the end zone with a 27-yard strike, and the Bears were on an 82-point pace at halftime. Besides their swollen advantage on the scoreboard, the Bears had a 289-88 advantage in total yards at the intermission. Jones was well on his way to finishing with 111 yards on 23 carries, and Grossman already had done much of his damage on an afternoon he completed 23 of 29 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 137.4. "They're a good football team, certainly a talented team, but when we play collectively, it's not too much to overcome," Nolan said. "But when we make turnovers and things like that, it's s difficult road to hoe." The first-half follies made the second half elementary, but the 49ers prevented the Bears from burying them even further. San Francisco stopped Chicago on fourth-and-goal from the 2 after the Bears had driven 88 yards in 16 plays, setting the stage for a few fourth-quarter fireworks from San Francisco's offense as the Bears ran reserves in and out of the game. Gore had a 53-yard run as the 49ers drove 89 yards to a short field goal by Joe Nedney, and after a three-and-out by Chicago second-stringers, Smith directed a 63-yard scoring drive that ended with his 16-yard touchdown strike to Bryant. Smith finished 16 of 26 for 146 yards passing, and Gore had 111 yards rushing on just 12 carries against the NFL's second-ranked defense. But beyond that, you had to look real, real, real hard to find positives for the 49ers in their latest lopsided loss. Nolan couldn't find many, and he wasn't the only one. "We've had some pretty ugly defeats," he said. "We've obviously got some issues we have to rectify. We've still got nine games left, and we've got some very winnable games ahead of us. But we're going to have to play much cleaner than we did today." Which was a rather appropriate way to put it after his team was handed another despicably dirty defeat
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