The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Chicago Bears in a 32-7 blowout on Monday night. Colin Kaepernick’s first career start proved to be successful as he threw for two touchdown passes in relief of Alex Smith, who was not medically cleared to play. It was also a great performance by LB Aldon Smith who had 5.5 sacks on the night. The 49ers are now 7-2-1 on the season with a 1.5 game lead on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.
“We had to prove to the world we were back,” said CB Tarell Brown. “Lots of people counted us out from our record. We bounced back from last week.”
Kaepernick finished the game with 243 passing yards to go with his two touchdowns and no interceptions. He started right out of the gate throwing the ball. On the first possession, he completed four of five attempts for 45 yards. Vernon Davis was involved early with two catches for 23 and 13 yards on the possession. It led to the opening score from a 32-yard field goal by David Akers.
On the next possession, Kaepernick continued to play well by finding Kyle Williams for 57 yards on a third down. A touchdown pass to Vernon Davis on the next play made the score 10-0 after the first two possessions. This set the tone for the entire game where the 49ers weren’t worried about the passing game.
The offense continued to pour it on with another touchdown drive. Gore had carries of 13 and 14 yards respectively on this possession to move the chains. Kaepernick got Davis involved again has he had a 32-yard pass to put the 49ers in the red zone. Kendall Hunter finished it off with a 14-yard touchdown run off a read option from the pistol to make it 17-0. Head coach Jim Harbaugh admitted there is now somewhat of a quarterback controversy with Alex Smith and Kaepernick being good. He didn’t comment on who would be the starter if Smith is healthy.
“We’ll see [who starts in the future],” said Harbaugh. “I usually tend to go with the guy who has the hot hand. We got two quarterbacks who have a hot hand.”
While Kaepernick had a great first half, the defense was just as great. Aldon Smith had a dominant performance on the Bears’ offensive line. His 5.5 sacks on the night, a Monday Night Football record, gave him a career high and he currently leads the league in total sacks with 15. He surpassed his career high of 14 sacks from last season.
Smith, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks were consistent at bringing in pressure to make Jason Campbell uncomfortable in the pocket. Aldon’s final sack of the game forced a fumble by Campbell in the Bears’ own end zone, leading to a safety and finishing off the scoring for the evening.
The 49ers’ defense wasn’t just Smith. Tarell Brown intercepted a pass from Jason Campbell for the first turnover of the game to give the 49ers the ball in Bears’ territory. Dashon Goldson also had an interception later in the game when Campbell overthrew Earl Bennett. Both interceptions led to field goals by David Akers.
In the first half, the 49ers outgained the Bears 249-35 in total yards. The Bears weren’t able to run the ball to Matt Forte or pass the ball. Campbell was sacked three times alone in the first half.
Kaepernick’s defining moment in this game was a touchdown pass to Crabtree. He was scrambling to the left and saw Crabtree open in the corner of the end zone for the score.
“It was a front side read,” said Kaepernick. “Michael [Crabtree] made a great move to get to the corner. That touchdown was on the offensive line because we had great protection up front.”
After having a tie last week, Donte Whitner was happy to rebound against the Bears. The passing defense only allowed 104 yards through the air, leaving the Chicago’s offense ineffective for majority of the game.
“[Last week] was a bad taste in my mouth,” said Whitner. “We wanted to go out and show it was only a down week for us and we’re still the team to beat. We did just that.”
Harbaugh was happy with what he saw from Kaepernick. He saw a player who worked hard and it has paid off.
“I was impressed with the accuracy, poise in pocket and running ability as well as play making ability,” said Harbaugh. “His understanding of the game plan was executed well.”
Harbaugh said everyone played well tonight. He couldn’t point out any individuals in particular because it was a well-rounded performance by the team.
“I give a lot of accolades to the players tonight,” said Harbaugh. “They played great in a big game and it’s good for us.”
-Michael Crabtree had only three catches in the game, but all of them were productive on third down and one ended up being a touchdown.
-With Alex Smith inactive, Scott Tolzien was active as the backup quarterback for Kaepernick. Other inactives included WR A.J. Jenkins, RB LaMichael James, S Trenton Robinson, RB Brandon Jacobs, G Joe Looney and NT Ian Williams. This was Jacobs’s ninth game being inactive.
-Randy Moss had only one catch for 12 yards.
-This was Vernon Davis’ biggest game in five weeks. In the last four games combined, he had only nine receptions for 101 yards and no touchdowns. Kaepernick was passing to him this time as he finished with six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.
-The ILBs Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were dominant on defense. The Bears were unable to run the ball and couldn’t get the tight ends involved. Whenever the Bears would call a screen, either Bowman or Willis were right there to break it up.
-The special teams coverage was solid on Devin Hester. He had -1 punt return yards and only averaged 25.2 yards on kick returns.
-The 49ers won the turnover battle with two interceptions. The 49ers didn’t turnover the ball for the entire game.
-The offensive line won the battle in the trenches against the Bears. Kaepernick was sacked two times, but was consistently protected for majority of the night. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter combined for 105 rushing yards on 22 carries. The 49ers remain undefeated when both players combine for more than 20 carries in a game.
-Brandon Marshall was held to two catches for 21 yards and one touchdown.