Video: Bears fans in 7th heaven over win
The Bears were back in business, winning by more than 25 points for the fifth time in seven games.
They also finally demonstrated they can win with time on their hands, something that could prove helpful if they again get home-field advantage for a playoff game. Sunday was the Bears' first win after an open date under coach Lovie Smith. They lost games after a week off in 2004 and 2005, in addition to their playoff loss to Carolina last January.
With the 49ers making five turnovers, four leading to scores, San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith observed, "I think we made it really easy on them."
This one was decided almost before the coin came down. The Bears led 10-0 nearly before their defense even needed to buckle a chin strap.
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner immediately addressed any question about the running game, calling more runs (three) in the first five plays than he had in the entire first quarter against Arizona (two). Thomas Jones responded with 40 yards on his first six carries plus 7 more on a swing pass from Rex Grossman. The offense drove 41 yards in the game's first five plays before stalling at the San Francisco 25. Robbie Gould then converted from 43 yards, his ninth field goal in nine tries from 40 yards or beyond.
Adrian Peterson forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Cameron Worrell recovered at the San Francisco 15. Three plays later, Jones was stacked up at the 7, stutter-stepped and burst around an undefended right side for a TD and a 10-0 lead. The assault continued when Brian Urlacher blitzed, was picked up by guard Justin Smiley and still jumped to deflect Alex Smith's pass and fight off Smiley to make a highlight-film interception at the San Francisco 41. Grossman threw to Bernard Berrian for 13 yards and Desmond Clark for 17 as the Bears moved to the San Francisco 5. Muhsin Muhammad then cut into the center of the end zone and took a Grossman pass off the back of defender Mark Roman for a 17-0 edge.
Urlacher then flushed Smith out of the pocket, where Lance Briggs hit him, forcing a fumble. The ball bounced at the 30, and Tommie Harris grabbed it and sprinted to the 49ers' 13. A 12-yard throw to Clark and a 1-yard dive by Cedric Benson and the Bears had a 24-0 lead.
What went right: Almost everything. Jones had more rushing yards (45) in the quarter than he did in the entire Arizona game. The defense allowed Smith two completions for a net zero yards and turned two of his pass plays into turnoversa fumble and an interception.
What went wrong: The defense allowed a first down. But just one. Brad Maynard had to punt. But just once.
Quote: "We were just wondering how it got out of control that fast." San Francisco defensive lineman Bryant Young
Changing sides on the field did little to change the 49ers' fortunes against the Bears.
A punt to the Bears' 34 was returned 42 yards by Devin Hester to give the Bears the ball at the San Francisco 24. A third-down conversion on a 12-yard pass to Clark put the Bears inside the red zone. Four plays later, Grossman executed a precision ball fake that sucked in the San Francisco defense and left Clark alone in the end zone for a TD and a 31-0 lead.
Gould ran his string of consecutive field goals for the season to 20 with a 36-yarder late in the quarter. The 49ers finally moved into the Bears' end of the field, but a fourth-down completion to Antonio Bryant was jarred loose by hits from Charles Tillman and Todd Johnson and recovered by Ricky Manning Jr. at the Bears' 30. Soon after, Grossman found Clark working free down the middle, and Clark made it 41-0 with a 26-yard catch, his second TD reception of the game.
What went right: Virtually every pass play the Bears called. Grossman completed 9 of 11 in each quarter, finishing the half with 202 yards, a passer rating of 144.5 and three touchdowns.