Despite leading comfortably for most of the games, penalties and avoidable Colin Kaepernick turnovers resulted in the San Francisco 49ers losing on their debut in their new stadium while the Chicago Bears got an outstanding fourth quarter from Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, coming away with the 28-20 win.
This was Colin Kaepernick at his worst, falling into the hands of the critics who consider him a quarterback that can’t succeed at the highest level unless everything around him is set to the right conditions. He threw three interceptions. His fault? Twice going to the same player. One of the interceptions was the fault of the receiver, but Kaepernick didn’t handle the quicksand situation very well.
The opposite goes for Jay Cutler. His ability and ceiling have been discussed so many times over the years. The bottom line is this – any good quarterback will thrive when the conditions around him make it possible. The Bears were blocking well, the 49ers lost their head, the short-field situation didn’t hurt and Brandon Marshall was simply untouchable.
As expected, the Bears struggled containing Kaepernick in the zone read situations, as he ran off for 66 yards on nine carries. But at some point it stopped working. The play action with Frank Gore was terrible, as Kaepernick finished with just 3-of-9 and an interception. Gore himself had a solid day on the ground with 63 yards on 13 carries, and maybe he should have seen more touches.
For the Bears, it all came down to the fourth quarter, in which they outscored the 49ers 21-0 after giving up 17 consecutive points to start the game. One must mention the penalties, saving the Bears time after time in third down situations. But the 49ers are playing with the same rules as other teams. They just aren’t adapting to the changes quickly enough, and the pressure from the sidelines doesn’t seem to be helping.
Only 176 passing yards for Cutler, only 5.2 yards per attempt. But he did find receivers for a touchdown four times, including three times to Brandon Marshall, twice in the fourth quarter. Martellus Bennett caught one in between the clutch Marshall ones. The running game didn’t exist, gaining only 46 yards on 17 carries. The Bears made out like bandits thanks to a quarterback everyone loves to trash for his inaccuracy.
This wasn’t how the 49ers imagined their first regular season game in a new stadium. Suddenly their win over the Dallas Cowboys doesn’t look so impressive. Colin Kaepernick might have better options to throw to, but he’s the same quarterback he was last season, with four turnovers to his name. This team is far from complete, but can smile a little bit because the Seahawks lost.
For the Bears, it was about confidence. Marc Trestman said after losing to the Bills that the defense is fine, and the offense will pick thing up eventually. Their defense was opportunistic (two interceptions that were huge gambles), but that helped Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall look so good. Despite the early overtime loss, the perfect fourth quarter performance gives us a hint that things are going to be fine.