Preseason game breakdown: Bears 31, 49ers 28

Scoring summary, key plays, what went right and wrong for the 49ers and what units stood out among the others for San Francisco during Saturday night's 31-28 exhibition loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

Score by quarters

49ERS 0 13 0 15 -- 28
Bears 10 21 0 0 -- 31

Attendance: 61,804

Preseason records: 49ers 1-2, Bears 3-0

Statistic that stands out: At halftime, Chicago held a 17-1 advantage over the 49ers in first downs.

Play to remember: With 3:13 remaining in the first half, cornerback Walt Harris steps in front of rookie tight end Greg Olsen in the right flat and snares Rex Grossman's pass in stride, taking it back 52 untouched yards for a touchdown that cut Chicago's lead to 24-13. It brought back memories of last season, when Harris led the NFC with a career-high eight interceptions - returning one for a touchdown - on his way to the Pro Bowl.

Play to forget: There were several of them for the 49ers, but this one in particular stands out. On the first play of the second quarter, receiver Bernard Berrian beats Niners' cornerback Shawntae Spencer off the line on third-and-3. Spencer slips as he attempts to throw Berrian off his route with a bump and slides to the turf as Berrian sails uncovered down the left sideline. Grossman hits him in stride and Berrian prances untouched into the end zone for a 25-yard scoring play that gives the Bears a commanding 17-0 lead just five seconds into the quarter.


Scoring plays

First quarter: Bears (11:37) Cedric Benson 2-yard run (Robbie Gould kick); Bears (7:14) Gould 37-yard FG.

Second quarter: Bears (14:55) Bernard Berrian 25-yard pass from Rex Grossman (Gould kick); 49ers (11:51) Maurice Hicks 2-yard run (Joe Nedney kick); Bears (6:30) Desmond Clark 2-yard pass from Grossman (Gould kick); 49ers (3:13) Walt Harris 52-yard interception return (kick failed); Bears (0:36) Adrian Peterson 3-yard run (Gould kick)

Fourth quarter: 49ers (14:55) Zach Hilton 3-yard pass from Trent Dilfer (Nedney kick); 49ers (1:52) Jason Hill 9-yard pass from Dilfer (Bryan Gilmore pass from Dilfer)


WHAT WENT RIGHT

First-team defense stuffs run: San Francisco's first defensive unit - which had been weak against the run in the 49ers' first two preseason games against Denver and Oakland - limited the Bears to just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt on their 25 first-half carries, including stuffing Chicago starting running Cedric Benson, who was limited to just 33 yards on 19 carries, a 1.7 average. Almost half of Chicago's first-half rushing yardage came on an 18-yard broken play by punter Brad Maynard and an 11-yard carry on a reverse by receiver Bernard Berrian.

Walt Harris returns: The 12th-year veteran returned to the starting lineup after missing the first two preseason games with a calf injury and, after getting beaten for a long gain on the game's first play from scrimmage, quickly returned to his Pro Bowl form both in coverage and run support. Harris returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown and also contributed three tackles in one half of play.

Patrick Willis shines again: Making his first professional start, the 49ers' first-round draft pick had several big hits among his game-high seven tackles. Willis showed both aggression and speed to the ball to spearhead a strong showing against the run by the first-team defense.

Trent Dilfer looks more like a starter than a backup: For the second consecutive game, San Francisco's 35-year-old backup consistently led the offense down the field while playing with and against reserves. Dilfer finished 9 of 12 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns, compiling a passer rating of 138.5.

Lelie productive again: Newcomer Ashley Lelie was on the receiving end of four of Dilfer's completions, again getting open both down the field and on short routes, while leading the 49ers with 48 receiving yards.

The incomparable Andy Lee: San Francisco's young stud punter averaged 47.3 yards on his six kicks, including a 59-yarder and a 52-yarder that he coffin-corners out of bounds at the Chicago 1-yard line. Three of Lee's punts were downed inside the Chicago 20.


WHAT WENT WRONG

Problems in the secondary: It was not a good overall night for the San Francisco secondary, which was at full strength for the first time this preseason. Chicago receivers were open early and often, and even playing against a suspect quarterback such as Rex Grossman, the Bears were able to complete several long passes down the field. Every member of San Francisco's front-line coverage backs had their problems, and safety Michael Lewis in particular was caught out of position a few times.

Pass rush weak again: Of course, Grossman had all day to stand back in the pocket and pick out his targets. He was rarely pressured and only hit once while in the game. The 49ers got some nice pressure in the second half, particularly from Parys Haralson, but Chicago quarterbacks were hit only three times the entire game.

Offense regresses big time: The 49ers had seven offensive possessions in the first half, and not one of them lasted more than three plays. San Francisco finished the first half with just one first down and a paltry 38 yards of total offense. Alex Smith never did get in a rhythm and the eight drives he directed produced only 71 yards of offense and two first downs.

A statistical mismatch: It's just the preseason, but for the second consecutive year at Soldier Field, the 49ers didn't look like they belonged on the same field with the Bears, at least when the first units were in the game. The first-half domination allowed the Bears to finish with a 351-206 advantage in total yards, a 22-11 advantage in first downs and a 36:02 to 23:58 edge in time of possession. The 49ers also lost two fumbles and were penalized eight times.



UNITS THAT STOOD OUT

Special teams: Andy Lee had a standout effort, Marcus Hudson recovered a fumble in punt coverage to set up a San Francisco touchdown and Brandon Williams showed some breakaway ability with a 41-yard punt return. On the down side, both coverage teams struggled to contain Chicago's fine return game.
Linebackers: This unit, which is developing some fine depth, had a good performance from the starters on down. Patrick Willis had a game-high seven tackles, Derek Smith had five and the other two starters - Manny Lawson and Tully-Banta Cain - combined for five. Hannibal Navies came off the bench to produce five tackles and a sack, Parys Harlalson provided good pressure and also got his nose around the football, and Brandon Moore contributed four tackles, though he conspicuously missed one by the goal line.

Tight ends: Some fine play here both blocking in the run game and getting open in the passing game. Starter Vernon Davis got open down the field for a 26-yard reception, Delanie Walker caught three passes for 39 yards and kept a couple of drives moving, and Zach Hilton had a three-yard touchdown reception as tight ends accounted for 38 percent of San Francisco's 13 receptions.


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