Before the game began, I thought that the wind conditions were so bad that two scores would be enough to come out ahead. But it in fact turned out almost like a soccer match with a total of six scores by the end of the fourth quarter.
As would have been expected, most of the yards for both teams came from the running game. Cody Pickett of the 49ers had a one completion on 13 attempts or 28 yards. Kyle Orton had 8 completions in 13 attempts for 67 yards. On the ground, San Francisco had 133 yards to the Bears 172. Reaching a total of around 400 yards was actually pretty good offensive production.
Not surprisingly there were missed field goals, interceptions, and a number of missed plays. It was not a shock that Robbie Gould missed a field goal, but that he made one. It was that kind of day.
Actually, I thought that one of the best calls of the game was the play action pass to Muhsin Muhammad in the end zone. While it resulted in an interception, it was a nicely designed play that might have worked if thrown earlier.
Another sign of hope that I saw in the Bears offensive plan was when they were at third and one then used the play action for a 31-yard pass to TE Desmond Clark. That surprised the 49ers and those of us watching as well.
The offensive line was excellent. The communication is going well and they have found their rhythm. As a former member of a Chicago o-line, I take pride whenever that unit excels. Sunday's game was an example of a raised level of skill on all of their parts.
What can you say about the Bears defense? They continue to dominate. Time and again they were able to get the ball back to Orton and prevent several chances by San Francisco to get in the end zone. While San Francisco is not an offensive powerhouse, they did have numerous opportunities because of turnovers and were left with field goals.
Nathan Vasher's return for the score was a thing of beauty, not to mention the longest such play in NFL history. Would anybody have even imagined that such a thing would happen? Just like everyone else in Soldier Field, I watched in complete disbelief as Vasher charged down the field. With considerable help from Brian Urlacher and a wall of blockers, Vasher reached the end zone. That's a highlight I'll enjoy watching for years to come.
Thank to Vasher and the defense the Bears won despite dismal special team play, which included three careless fumbles. What I saw from the special teams unit was more like a high school football game than an NFL contest. Every player has a bad day now and then but three fumbles, Bobby Wade? There's simply no excuse for play like that.
I continue to be impressed by Lovie Smith but I do have some concerns about his overall approach. He just goes by the book and has never been at all innovative. With this team, which is unconventional to say the least, a more unorthodox approach would prove to be more successful.
That's not good leadership when you aren't maximizing the personality of your team. A lot of these players are young guys and often do the unpredictable. Lovie must be more flexible and able to adjust and change, as situations require.
And while we're on the subject of leadership, I was asked to offer my thoughts on the fight between Fred Miller and Olin Kreutz. Fights during practice are never that unusual. When I played, that happened every now and then and nobody was particularly surprised. It's just the emotion inherent in the game.
However, it's a bit different when something happens away from the practice facility. It's also unusual that it was between two guys from the same side of the ball.
Usually it will come up between an offensive and a defensive lineman. When both are from the offensive line, that's a little out of the ordinary.
I will say that Olin Kreutz is a good man and fine player. If I were walking down a dark alley late at night, he'd be the one I'd want watching my back. We'll probably never know the whole story of what transpired, and perhaps its best to leave it at that.
So the Bears got another win and have five in a row right now. It wasn't pretty but they kept at it until the game was over. I can't overstate how important this fact is for overall morale. It's something that builds from week to week and has a definite effect on player production. If you believe you can win oftentimes you do win.
Whether they can get another against the Panthers remains to be seen but stranger things have happened. This seems to be the Bears year and we should all be enjoying every minute of it.
Mike Pyle played for the Bears from 1961-69, including a Pro Bowl selection following the '63 season.