Preseason Game Breakdown: 49ers vs. Bears

Scoring summary, key plays, what went right and wrong for the 49ers and what units stood out among the others for San Francisco during Thursday night's wild 37-30 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Score by quarters
49ERS 6 14 7 10 -- 37
Chicago 10 10 3 7 -- 30

Paid attendance: 61,052

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

Statistic that stands out: The 49ers rolled to 425 yards of total offense and produced 25 first downs, with their three quarterbacks passing for 269 yards and compiling a combined game passer rating of 107.4.

Play to remember: On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan hit tight end Vernon Davis on a deep corner pattern to set up the 49ers with a first down at the Chicago 37-yard line. From there, on the next play, O'Sullivan gave a vivid illustration of why San Francisco coaches are so high on him as the team's quarterback. O'Sullivan dropped back and began rolling right as he looked downfield. With Chicago defenders in pursuit, O'Sullivan stepped up as he approached the sideline to evade a diving defender, then launched a pass into the corner of the end zone. Jason Hill, in the midst of the best game of his two-year career, slipped behind safety Mike Brown and adjusted his route by drifting to the right, and O'Sullivan's pass hit him in the chest for a 37-yard touchdown play that completed a quick-striking two-play, 77-yard scoring drive that gave the 49ers a 13-10 lead.

Play to forget: After the 49ers drove 65 yards in seven plays on the game's opening possession before settling for a short Joe Nedney field goal, Nedney drilled the ensuing kickoff 75 yards deep into the Chicago end zone, where Devin Hester caught it and opted to bring it out. After reaching the Chicago 7-yard line, Hester gave the ball to Danieal Manning on a reverse lateral and Manning began giving ground as he headed in the opposite direction. As Manning headed toward the left side, Keith Lewis had Manning wrapped up at the two-yard line and two other 49ers had a shot to bring Manning down at that point and give the Niners some serious momentum. But Manning was able to break away from Lewis and elude all three defenders, then found open room as he turned the corner. Manning took flight along the sideline and wasn't stopped until he was brought down by Dontarrious Thomas after a 60-yard return. That set up the Bears at the San Francisco 33-yard line and gave them a short field for a touchdown drive on their first possession that gave Chicago an early lead. It also was an indication of things to come for a 49ers kickoff coverage team that repeatedly allowed big returns throughout the evening.


First quarter: 49ers (10:48) Joe Nedney 28-yard field goal; Bears (8:36) Rashied Davis 21-yard pass from Kyle Orton (Robbie Gould kick); 49ers (1:47) Nedney 24-yard field goal; Bears (0:00) Gould 21-yard field goal.

Second quarter: 49ers (14:14) Jason Hill 37-yard pass from J.T. O'Sullivan (Nedney kick); 49ers (11:17) Moran Norris 1-yard run (Nedney kick); Bears (5:58) David 7-yard pass from Orton (Gould kick); Bears (0:41) Gould 24-yard field goal.

Third quarter: 49ers (9:28) Dominique Zeigler 12-yard pass from Alex Smith (Ricky Schmitt kick); Bears (5:43) Gould 28-yard field goal.

Fourth quarter: 49ers (14:13) Thomas Clayton 15-yard run (Schmitt kick); 49ers (4:38) Schmitt 31-yard field goal; Bears (0:00) Brandon Rideau 51-yard pass from Caleb Hanie (Gould kick).


Offense in total control: The 49ers drove to scores on each of their first four possessions and had it going offensively throughout the evening no matter who was in the game. The Niners might have scored on five of their first six possessions if not for a blocked field-goal attempt on the final play of the first half. As it was, San Francisco produced 248 yards in the first half and 425 overall and has lit up the scoreboard with 71 points in the past six days.

Fine play by the three-headed quarterback: Starter J.T. O'Sullivan was superb, completed 7 of 8 passes for 126 yards in his three series and finding Vernon Davis and Jason Hill down the field for big plays. He finished the game with a quarterback rating of 158.3 - the highest rating possible. Shaun Hill also was efficient over the final 20 minutes, completing 6 of 7 passes for 60 yards and finishing with a passer rating of 102.4. In between those two, Alex Smith had some shining moments - including a well-thrown 12-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Zeigler - before finishing 6 of 17 for 83 yards. The combined totals: 19 of 32 for 269 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and just one sack for a combined quarterback rating of 107.4.

Ground game finds its groove: The 49ers rushed for 160 yards on 35 attempts, a fat 4.6 average, and literally all of their running backs who played got into the act. Starter Frank Gore had some big runs early and finished with 51 yards on eight carries before heading to sideline. Fullback Zak Keasey broke a 16-yard run and finished with 22 yards, and fullback Moran Norris plunged over the goal line for a 1-yard score. Taking the reins in the second half, Thomas Clayton - the NFL's preseason rushing champion last year - finished with a game-high 81 yards rushing on 18 carries, including a nifty 15-yard scoring run to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.

Controlling the football: The game was much more lopsided that the final score might indicate, but one statistic that tells the story is time of possession: The 49ers had the ball for 37 minutes, 23 seconds, while the Bears controlled it for only 22:25 - a huge and telling disparity.

Jason Hill emerges: The second-year receiver displayed some fine promise five day ago when he snagged two passes for 46 yards against the Packers, but this was his coming out party. Hill finished with four receptions for a game-high 94 yards receiving, a performance punctuated by his 37-yard touchdown catch.

Zeigler's follies: And let's not forget about Dominique Zeigler, who continues to show that he belongs. Zeigler finished with a game-high six receptions for 61 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown catch that put the 49ers ahead 27-20 in the third quarter, and now has 10 receptions in the past two preseason games.

Protecting the football: For the first time in three preseason games, the 49ers did not commit a turnover.

Rossum's returns: Continuing to be a factor in the return game, Allen Rossum averaged 30.0 yards on five kickoff returns and brought back his only punt return 19 yards.

Wrapping up against the run: Take away a 34-yard run by Kevin Jones - the result of some missed tackles - and the Bears rushed for 75 yards on their other 21 attempts. Patrick Willis and newcomers Justin Smith and Takeo Spikes each displayed some nice aggression against the run.

Offensive play-calling: Mike Martz mixed it up very nicely throughout the evening. The Bears were reeling throughout the game and never knew what the 49ers were going to hit them with next.

Coming through on third down: The San Francisco defense was at its best on crunch downs as Chicago converted on only three of its 12 third-down attempts, a 25 percent efficiency rate.


Two much time for passing Bears: After recording six sacks against Green Bay five days ago, the 49ers only registered one sack Thursday - and that was in the fourth quarter against rookie quarterback Caleb Hanie. When the 49ers needed to get to Chicago starter Kyle Orton in the first half, they couldn't do it, and he picked them apart for 147 yards and two touchdowns passing.

Coverage teams collectively crunched: The Bears produced a whopping 240 yards on their six kickoff returns - that's a 40-yard average - and the 49ers also allowed a 20-yard punt return. Danieal Manning had kickoff returns of 75, 60 and 36 yards. Ouch.

Rusty Roman: Veteran Mark Roman had a shaky effort at free safety, allowing Rashied Davis to get behind him in coverage for Chicago's first touchdown, then missing a tackle at the line of scrimmage that Kevin Jones turned into Chicago's biggest run of the evening. Roman finished with one tackle and was out of position several times.

Sagging secondary: The coverage wasn't very tight in the San Francisco secondary, and Chicago receivers were able to shake loose and get open for big plays throughout the evening. There were a few blown assignments, but there also were some individuals simply beaten on plays they need to make.

Penalties adding up: The 49ers were penalized seven times for a negative 68 yards. That's not a horrible figure and it didn't matter in this game, but in a closer contest, those penalties could have been a factor.

Blowing timeouts: The 49ers continue to burn timeouts unnecessarily, and it cost them near the end of the first half when they did not have a timeout to use so that coach Mike Nolan could challenge a play in which returner Devin Hester was obviously tackled in the end zone for a safety, but the officials erroneously gave Chicago a touchback on the play.


Quarterbacks: As pointed out earlier, the 49ers will take 19 of 32 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns any day from their quarterback position. J.T. O'Sullivan, Alex Smith and Shaun Hill each moved the offense and each made plays to make that happen.

Offensive line: Just a standout effort by a unit that continues to get better as it works together. Joe Staley showed another game of growth at left tackle and was strong in pass protection as the 49ers allowed only one harmless sack. The line also opened a lot of holes - particularly the first-team line early in the game - as the Niners rushed for 160 yards. Rookie Brian de la Puente - getting his first professional start at left guard - contributed his share to the success, and veteran Barry Sims - starting in place of injured Jonas Jennings at right tackle - also had a fine game.

Wide receivers: While rookie preseason sensation Josh Morgan was shut out, Dominique Zeigler, Jason Hill and Isaac Bruce combined for 12 receptions for 178 yards (14.8 average) and two touchdowns.

Running backs: San Francisco backs were breaking loose for big runs throughout the evening as Frank Gore, Thomas Clayton, Zak Keasey and Moran Norris combined for 157 yards on 32 attempts - a 4.9 average - and scored two touchdowns.

Linebackers: The unit was active throughout the evening as the 49ers morphed back and forth from their base 3-4 defense and hybrid 4-3 scheme. Patrick Willis, Manny Lawson, Justin Smith, Tully Banta-Cain and Takeo Spikes each contributed three tackles and Dontarrious Thomas and Roderick Green each had two.

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