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Bears fall in battle of Berlin
The Bears traveled halfway around the world in search of an offense.
The pursuit will continue Monday in Platteville, Wis.
The San Francisco 49ers benefited from the Bears' failed mission Saturday, sticking a 21-7 preseason loss on the Chicagoans in front of 66,876 at historic Olympic Stadium.
Botched assignments, poor execution and championship-caliber opposition conspired to even the Bears' preseason record at 1-1. The 49ers, who play Wednesday against Denver at Candlestick Park, improved to 2-0.
Bears coach Mike Ditka said he planned some cuts this week, even though the mandatory roster reduction from 80 to 60 is not until Aug. 20.
The evidence of who's hot and who's not is mounting. Third-year running back Mark Green (nine carries for 62 yards), rookie free-agent defensive tackle James Williams (four tackles and a deflected pass) and rookie receiver Anthony Morgan (two catches for 27 yards) definitely enhanced their stock Saturday.
But defensive end Eric Kumerow, in his first season with the Bears, is out for the year after rupturing an Achilles tendon in the third quarter. He will have surgery in Chicago.
Quarterback Joe Montana worked his mastery early to give the 49ers a 14-7 halftime lead. He connected on 12 of 18 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.
Montana tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Jerry Rice in the second period. The Bears knotted it 7-7 when veteran Glen Kozlowski carried on an end-around for a 22-yard score.
San Francisco took the lead for good when Keith Henderson scored from two yards out late in the first half. The touchdown was set up by a pass-interference call against Maurice Douglass that put the ball on the 2.
In the third quarter, backup quarterback Steve Young (9 for 11 for 72 yards) tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Sanjay Beach to cap an 11-play, 58-yard drive.
The Bears had a couple of chances to get back into the game. But rookie kicker Chris Gardocki hit the left upright on a 34-yard field-goal attempt. Another drive stalled on the 49ers' 4-yard line with 4:07 left.
Of much greater significance than the final score was the fact that Ditka and his staff were upset and disappointed with several players.
"I think more or less we embarrassed ourselves," Ditka said. "We had the wrong formations. We had the wrong calls going into the game on offense. And we didn't execute very well. When we did have people open, the ball wasn't thrown that well. There were some times when we didn't run the play very well. "There's a lot of room for improvement and we have to improve significantly with our offense."
Linebacker Ron Rivera stopped the 49ers' opening drive with an interception. Montana's pass, intended for John Taylor, was tipped by cornerback Donnell Woolford. The ball caromed to Rivera and he returned it 22 yards.
"The play that Ron Rivera and Donnell Woolford made was a great play," said Ditka, who also praised William Perry. "Our defense played pretty well for a while. But when we put the other people in, we didn't play very well. There were too many missed assignments."
Apparently referring to linebacker Ron Cox, Ditka said, "We got beat on the bootleg. Specifically, one player gets beat by the Giants (in the playoffs last year) by the same play and we get beat again in a critical situation. And we tell him before he goes out on the field to watch the bootleg. Your mind can't be into football when those things happen."
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who played the first half, completed 7 of 14 passes for 77 yards. He was sacked twice and had two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Backup QB Peter Tom Willis was 6 of 14 for 80 yards. He was sacked once and had a pair of passes rejected by defensive linemen.
"We need better play from our tackles," Ditka said. "We know that. All of them. (Keith) Van Horne included, because he got beat just as much as the other guy (Roman Matusz).
"I thought we could have played much more consistent football and a lot better football."
The Bears were limited to two field goals in their 6-0 victory over Miami last weekend. And to score a touchdown Saturday, it took a trick play from Kozlowski after Neal Anderson (6 carries for 58 yards) set the stage with a spectacular 50-yard run. Guard Mark Bortz and Morgan provided excellent escort service for Anderson.
"You must be able to score, but we didn't have a good understanding about what we wanted to do," Ditka grumbled, recalling the aborted drive on the 4-yard line. "Very poor. Not organized.
"Then we started calling some plays and the quarterback didn't get the play right. Our signals (from quarterbacks on the sideline) weren't right, so I started alternating players. And that wasn't much better. We will not signal plays in until we understand what the signals are."
Offensive coordinator Greg Landry talked about the sideline confusion.
"On the last play of that drive (an incomplete pass by Willis on a rollout left), we wanted to do something different," said Landry. "The other plays went OK. The kids who brought them in might have messed them up. We changed to sending in plays because they (presumably young quarterbacks Paul Justin and Brent Snyder) were having trouble giving the signals."
Landry said he had wanted to run a sweep off a fake reverse on that fourth-and-four play.
"P.T. misunderstood and he thought he was told to keep the ball instead of handing it off," Landry said. "We had another situation (on third down) where we had a bootleg and the fullback went the wrong way. Those are things we have to keep working through."