LIVE preseason game blog: 49ers vs. Bears

The 49ers play their penultimate exhibition game tonight in Chicago against the defending NFC champion Bears, and SFI keeps you up to date on the action at Soldier Field in Chicago with live reports and commentary. Make sure to refresh this page every 15 minutes for running updates throughout the game.

6:59 p.m. The 49ers remember this place well. The last time they were here - coming off their bye week last October - they were thoroughly embarrassed, falling behind 41-0 at halftime before the Bears called off the charges. But the Niners began their slow climb to respectability after that 41-10 loss, something they carried into the offseason and expect to carry into the 2007 season with an upgraded roster. With the third preseason game being the one where both teams will play their starters the longest, this will be a good test to see where the 49ers are as they get ready for the season opener that now is just 16 days away.

7:02 p.m.: The Bears win the coin toss and the San Francisco defense - the side of the ball that hasn't exactly held its own during the preseason - will go for the 49ers first.

7:07 p.m. Not a very auspicious start for Pro Bowl cornerback Walt Harris. On his first play of the preseason - he missed San Francisco's first two games with a calf injury - Harris looks rusty and slow-footed and Chicago receiver Bernard Berrian blows right by him on a stutter-and-go route and pulls in a pass from Rex Grossman for a 45-yard gain before safety Mark Roman can get over and pull Berrian down.

7:11 p.m.: It's a cheap call for illegal contact on Nate Clements, who chucks Berrian a few yards off the line on a second-and-11 play, setting Chicago up with a first down as the Bears creep inside the San Francisco 10. Cornerbacks are going to have to be wary of the new rule that doesn't allow them any slack in making contact once a receiver is off the line.

7:13 p.m. The 49ers get tough as the Bears approach the goal line as Patrick Willis finishes off running back Cedric Benson Benson on third down and forces a fourth-and-1 from 2-yard line. Clements gets a hit on Benson at the line of scrimmage, but he doesn't wrap his arm and Benson bounced off and ploughs into the end zone.
Bears 7, 49ers 0

7:18 p.m. It's a weak three-and-out on the first time out by the San Francisco offense, and then the 49ers' punt coverage team - and area of strength last season - whiffs a few times on Devin Hester, allowing the dynamic return man to rip off a 29-yard gain that sets up the Chicago offense again at its own 49-yard line.

7:22 p.m. Manny Lawson's going to be a tough player to block on the edge this year, whether it's an offensive lineman trying to use his brawn or a tight end attempting to use his quickness. Lawson blows up a run play and tackles Benson for a loss in the backfield as he simply uses his strength to shrug off tight end Desmond Clark's attempt to tie him up at the line.

7:27 p.m. A 30-yard pass from Grossman to Clark takes Chicago to the San Francisco 19, where the drive stalls as Grossman fumbles a snap and throws incomplete twice, setting up Robbie Gould for a for a 37-yard field-goal attempt. Gould hits it straight in line toward the right upright, but he gets the lucky bounce as the ball hits the post and glances inside the bars.
Bears 10, 49ers 0

7:32 p.m. With the pressure on, left tackle Kwame Harris fails. On third-and-7 on San Francisco's next possession, Harris is called for a false start, and it's another three-and-out for the San Francisco offense, even though Michael Robinson rips off a nice 11-yard gain on a third-down draw play that is stopped one yard short of a first down.

7:40 p.m. Willis is all over the field making plays. This is why he has bounced Brandon Moore - arguably San Francisco's best defensive player last year - from the starting lineup before the regular season even begins. He's already made several nice tackles, but this time he absolutely blasts Benson after he takes a short pass and plants him on his back for a two-yard gain.

7:43 p.m.: Linebackers Tully Banta-Cain and Derek Smith also are making some plays against the run, and now the Bears come to the line facing a third-and-3 from the San Francisco 25 on the first play of the second quarter. But Shawntae Spencer is beaten off the line by Berrian, then slips as he tries to turn and run in coverage. Berrian is all alone down the sideline as Grossman hits him with a spiral, and the receiver strolls into the end zone untouched. The 49ers are getting embarrassed, and this is starting to look almost like their October visit here last season.
Bears 17, 49ers 0

7:47 p.m.: Joe Staley is showing why he's about to take the starting right tackle job from Kwame Harris. Staley is a rock in pass coverage, pushing rushers wide or standing them up at the line of scrimmage. Smith fumbles a third-down snap, however, and the San Francisco offense goes three-and-out for the second time in three series.

7:52 p.m.: Finally, something goes right for the 49ers - and in a big way. After another three-and-out as Chicago's domination of San Francisco's first-team offense continues, Andy Lee sails a 51-yard punt toward the Chicago goal line. Rookie wide receiver Drisan James - in the game for Hester, who was hurt in the first quarter attempting to block while in the game at receiver - let's the deep punt slip through his hands, and Marcus is there immediately to recover for the 49ers at the 6.

7:55 p.m. The 49ers go right at Chicago's first-team defense, and Maurice Hicks powers into the end zone on third-and-goal from the 2, following a big block by David Baas, who lines up at tight end as the right side of the San Francisco line caves in Chicago's front wall.
Bears 17, 49ers 7

8 p.m. Rookie Ray McDonald shows his pass-rushing prowess again on a third-and-13 play, getting in the face of Grossman, who sails a pass toward Clark that is almost picked off by Clements, who would have had clear sailing the other way. The Bears are forced to punt, but they get a lucky break when punter Brad Maynard bobbles the snap, then picks it up off the ground and scrambles 31 yards down the right sideline for a first down as the 49ers lose contain on the edge.

8:05 p.m. Given another break, the Chicago offense rolls through the Niners for yet another touchdown, which comes on a 2-yard pass from Grossman to Clark, who has no one around him in the end zone. That looked like Michael Lewis' man, and the questions about the newcomer's coverage ability will continue when he gets caught out of position like that.
Bears 24, 49ers 7

8:13 p.m.: Big play by Walt Harris! The cornerback makes up for his earlier transgressions, stepping in front of rookie tight end Greg Olsen to pick off an ill-advised Grossman pass near midfield and taking it 52 yards for a touchdown that puts the Niners right back in the game, just like that, even though they flub the PAT attempt.
Bears 24, 49ers 13

8:18 p.m.: Lawson almost duplicates Harris' pick, stepping in front of fullback Jason McKie on an almost identical flat pass and nearly making the interception. Lawson has clear sailing ahead, but he can't hold onto the pick, giving the Bears new life. But the drive stalls, and Chicago has to punt the ball back to the 49ers at the two-minute warning.

8:23 p.m.: Robinson slips up the middle for an 8-yard gain as the 49ers begin their two-minute offense at their own 12 - but he forgets something important as he charges for a first down - the football. It's poor ball-handling by Robinson, who is stripped in the open field, and Nathan Vasher returns it 15 yards to set up the Chicago yet again at the San Francisco 20.

8:27 p.m.: The Niners continue to struggle with their footing on the slippery turf - there has been downpours in the Chicago area throughout the week - and despite another big hit by Willis for a yard-loss after the Bears make it first-and-goal from the 2, Chicago piles on another touchdown. This time, it's Adrian Peterson going over the right side as Brandon Moore misses yet another tackle that could have stopped Peterson behind the line - the third consecutive game this summer Moore has missed conspicuously missed a tackle in the open field. And that, folks, is why San Francisco's 2006 leader in tackles and sacks is now working with the second unit.
Bears 31, 49ers 13

8:35 p.m.: And at halftime, it's a rout. The 49ers haven't looked this bad since … well … you definitely have to back to some point last season. The progress that was seemingly made during last week's win against Oakland doesn't look like much now as San Francisco takes a step backward with a sloppy half of football that sees the 49ers limited to just one first down while the middling Chicago offense piles up big yardage and points at will. "We've been our own worst enemy," coach Mike Nolan says at the break. "Time and time again, we're not playing as a unit." Nolan can say that again.

8:47 p.m.: The San Francisco offense, so out of sync in the first half, finally gets something going after taking the second-half kickoff. The Niners get their biggest offensive play so far this evening on third-and-5 as tight end Vernon Davis beats safety Adam Archuleta across the field and reels in a 26-yard pass from Smith. Davis is going to be beating safeties like that all season.

8:53 p.m. The 49ers reach the Chicago 43, but two penalties on Davis doom the drive. He gets flagged for lining up in an illegal formation, then is flagged again for a false start on third-and-8.

9:04 p.m. The San Francisco defense gets tough and forces a three-and-out, but San Francisco offense returns the favor. Punter Andy Lee, however, then puts the Bears in a hole. First, he hits a 45-yard punt to the Chicago 3 that s brought back after it is illegally touched by a teammate. So Lee responds by booming a 51-yarder on the re-kick, this time taking no chances as he coffin-corners it out of bounds at the Chicago 1.

9:12 p.m. The 49ers have been getting very little pressure on Chicago quarterbacks all evening, but Hannibal Navies and Parys Haralson converge at backup quarterback Brian Griese and dump him for a 7-yard loss on second down that effectively thwarts Chicago's final drive of the third quarter. Griese fumbles the snap on the next play and the Bears are forced to punt.

9:13 p.m.: Brandon Williams hasn't shown a lot as a punt returner so far with the 49ers, but here he breaks off his best return since joining the team, showing the shifty moves and instincts that convinced the 49ers to spend a third-round draft pick on him last year. Williams reverses field, turns the corner, then cuts inside to avoid defenders, and for a moment it looks like he's gone before he's finally brought down after a 41-yard gain that sets up the 49ers at the Chicago 29.

9:17 p.m.: Trent Dilfer now is in at quarterback for the 49ers, and his first play is a 16-yard dart to Ashley Lelie, who has been getting open and catching everything thrown to him this preseason. The 49ers need to give this guy more action, and Lelie pulls in another reception two plays later. On third-and-9, Dilfer then hits Delanie Walker, who makes a touch catch in traffic for the first down at the Chicago 3 as time runs out on the third quarter.

9:20 p.m. Dilfer looks sharp as he hits tight end Zach Hilton in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard scoring reception to open the fourth quarter. Hilton looked very good in training camp this summer, and he's an imposing target at 6-foot-6, but where does he fit in with a team that already has Davis, Walker and Billy Bajema at the position?
Bears 31, 49ers 20

9:32 p.m.: The San Francisco offense gets the ball right back again, and there is Lelie making another big play, pulling in a 19-yard gain on second down. But on third-and-6, backup tackles Harvey Dahl and Patrick Estes both are beaten around the edges and Dilfer is sacked, ending a drive that had reached the San Francisco 46.

9:38 p.m. Haralson is having a big game, making several stops and putting some heat on the Chicago backfield. After making a stop for a five-yard loss the previous series, this time Haralson shoots the gap and stuffs third-string quarterback Kyle Orton for a nine-yard sack with some help from tackle Sam Rayburn. That pushes Chicago into a third-and-17 situation, and the 49ers start their next drive at the Chicago 41 after a short punt.

9:44 p.m.: Walker is making plays again, reeling in a 20-yard reception to take the ball to the 21. Dilfer hits Walker again on third-and-7, but after gaining 10 yards for the first down he gets stripped of the ball by cornerback Corey Graham. It's a costly mistake as the Bears recover at their own 8-yard line.

9:53 p.m. It's another three-and-out for Chicago as the Bears go nowhere on the next series, with youngsters Joe Cohen and Hudson both making nice plays. Another weak punt by backup punter Joel Stelly - this one a 27-yard shank from the Chicago 15 - sets up the Niners for another scoring opportunity from the Chicago 32, and the Dilfer-led offense immediately responds. First, he hits Lelie for 10 yards, then rookie Thomas Clayton gains 13 yards rushing on the next two plays, On second-and-goal from the 9, Dilfer is hit as he releases the ball, but he finds rookie Jason Hill on a slant near the goal line, and the third-round draft pick is able to reach the ball over the goal line as he is dragged down. Dilfer then hits Bryan Gilmore for the two-point conversion, and it's suddenly a three-point game with 1:52 remaining to play.
Bears 31, 49ers 28

10:02 p.m.: It's a nice little comeback by the San Francisco reserves, but it ultimately falls short. The 49ers have all three of their timeouts as the Bears start their next drive at their own 19, but rookie third-string halfback Garrett Wolfe breaks through the middle for a 12-yard gain on second-and-8 that gives the Bears the first down they need to run out the clock.

10:03 p.m.: And that's a wrap from the Windy City, where the 49ers' summer of progress grinded to a halt Saturday, at least as far as the first units were concerned. The 49ers are outgained 351-206, and it was much more lopsided when first-teamers were in the game. There still is time to correct problems and get it right, but the 49ers have some work to do over the next two weeks if they expect to start the regular-season strong in their huge Sept. 10 opener against Arizona. San Francisco goes right back at it with its preseason finale in five days at San Diego, and they'll be hoping everything looks a whole lot better against the Chargers.
Final score: Bears 31, 49ers 28


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