49ers dominate early, hold off Lions late with 41-33

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws against the Detroit Lions defense in the second half of action at Ford Field in Detroit during week 1 Sun Sep 12, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Joe Hawkes
Staff Writer

DETROIT, MI — The 49ers scored 17 unanswered points in two minutes in the second quarter, highlighted by a Dre Greenlaw interception return for a touchdown, but narrowly escaped with a 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

San Francisco (1-0) carried a 38-10 lead early in the fourth quarter and allowed the Lions to to score 23 straight points in a span of three minutes to pull within eight points. But with 12 seconds remaining in the game, the Lions turned the ball on downs at the San Francisco 24-yard line to thwart Detroit’s late rally.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo shook off a fumble on the first snap of the game, finished the game 17 of 25 for 314 yards. Garoppolo hooked up with wide receiver Deebo Samuel on a 78-yard touchdown pass after second-year cornerback Jeff Okudah stumbled in coverage.

“We got into a pretty good groove and we were rolling pretty good, but you want to finish better than that,” Garoppolo said. “There was a relaxation on the sideline.

“At the end of the day, it’s a win and we’re happy with that.”

The scoring play gave the 49ers a 28-point lead midway through the third quarter, which they would need.

Samuel had nine catches for a career-high 189 yards, but had a key fumble late in the fourth quarter that gave the Lions hope with a little over a minute left.

Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell, who stepped in for the injured Raheem Mostert (knee), snapped a 7-7 tie with a 38-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter that put the 49ers up 14-7. Mitchell finished with 104 yards rushing.

Tight end George Kittle had four catches for 78 yards.

San Francisco took an early 7-0 lead after rookie quarterback Trey Lance connected with wide receiver Trent Sherfield on a 5-yard score following a play-action pass in the first quarter.

Defensively, San Francisco must tighten up their run defense. The Lions ran through multiple running lanes in the game and racked up a 116 yards on the ground. Defensive end Nick Bosa, who returned to action for the first time since tearing his ACL early last season, had four tackles and a drive-ending sack in the fourth quarter.

Middle linebacker Fred Warner led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo, 3 assisted). San Francisco forced three turnovers off the rebuilding Lions.

In his debut with his new team, quarterback Jared Goff finished 38 of 57 for 338 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Tight end T.J. Hockenson had a career-high eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.

It was third time straight time that Hockenson scored a touchdown in the season-opening game.

Detroit (0-1) recorded 430 yards in total offense, with the majority coming when the 49ers were up comfortably in the second half.

San Francisco held a 31-10 lead at halftime, their highest total after two quarters since 2008.

“We dug ourselves into a really big ditch early against a very good team,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “We were better in the second half, but that wasn’t good enough.”

On the injury front, the 49ers are holding their breath on the status of starting cornerback Jason Verrett who left the game late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers believe that Verrett tore his ACL.

Next up for the 49ers: a trip to Philadelphia where they will take on the Eagles in Week 2. Second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts was 27 of 35 for 264 yards and three touchdowns for the Eagles in a 32-6 throttling of the Atlanta Falcons on the road.

49ers comeback in win over Chargers in second preseason game 15-10; Lance throws for 2 TDs

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) avoids getting taken down by Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Tevaughn Campbell (20) but can’t make the two point conversion in the first half at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood (AP News photo)

~ By Pearl Allison Lo 

~ August 22, 2021 

~ INGLEWOOD– San Francisco began and ended with the lead 15-10 in their first visit to SoFi Stadium for Los Angeles´ first official home game with 68,327 attendance.

There were a lot of penalties in the game, 13 for the 49ers and 12 for the Chargers, the first occurring with 14:18 left in the first.  

San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo started and stayed in for one drive like last game, because of how long the first drive lasted. He was able to avoid a sack and scramble for 10 yards, but was eventually intercepted by Asante Samuel Jr. The possession took 15 plays and lasted almost seven and a half minutes.

The 49ers got their first safety of the preseason when DL Jordan Willis sacked QB Easton Stick in the end zone with 10:42 left in the second.

With 9:07 left, this time it was the other San Francisco QB Trey Lance who was intercepted and it ended up more costly. The following possession after two penalties by the 49ers, the Chargers got the first touchdown. Stick made a three yard pass to WR Joshua Palmer with 5:49 left.

Los Angeles tacked on a field goal to make it 10-2 with just over a minute left to go in the half. This was thanks to a 39-yard long pass to WR Jalen Guyton near the beginning of the drive and despite offensive holding and intentional grounding penalties to the Chargers. LB Jonas Griffith for the 49ers also had a facemask penalty which offset the loss a bit.

The first half excitement wasn’t over yet though. Off a no huddle 12-yard gain by RB Wayne Gallman II to get to 3rd and 1, the 49ers called a timeout and Lance threw another deep pass to WR Trent Sherfield for the second game in a row, this one for 41 yards.

The Bolts then committed a 5-yard penalty and after another timeout, Lance threw five yards into the end zone to WR Mohamed Sanu Sr. and Lance ran to convert for two more points. Kicker Robbie Gould missed the extra point attempt, bringing the score back to within two. 

Los Angeles brought in QB Chase Daniel for the second half. 

Lance had his first non-scoring scramble go for eight yards as San Francisco regained the lead on almost a six and a half minute drive, in which they converted from 3rd down three times. Lance threw a 16-yard pass to WR Travis Benjamin with 5:01 left in the third.

Things kept going the 49ers’ way when they got their first interception with 13:13 left in the fourth. Safety Jared Mayden intercepted Daniel and went 54 yards for a score, but DL Shilique Calhoun was called for offensive holding. 

The Niners committed a third turnover when new QB Nate Sudfeld fumbled on his second drive of the game and LB Cole Christiansen recovered. 

San Francisco and the Chargers punted for the remainder of the game, most three and outs or extended by penalties. Bolts´ Jessie Lemonier committed the last penalty of the game with 1:49 left for roughing the passer.

Regarding the 49ers´ quarterbacks, Garoppolo threw 3 of 6 for 15 passing yards, 10 rushing yards and the one interception. Lance finished 8 of 14 for 102 passing yards, eight rushing yards, two scores, the one interception and was sacked twice. Sudfeld went 3 for 5 for 24 yards. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan remained noncommittal after the game between Garoppolo or Lance starting Week 1. 

For the Bolts, Stick went 10 for 14 for 85 yards and one TD. Daniel went 14 of 21 for 60 yards and one interception. The San Francisco defense sacked each of them multiple times, Stick three times and Daniel twice. 

Overall the Niners won the yardage game, 281-162. The biggest difference came via rushing, with San Francisco outrunning Los Angeles 148-53.

The Chargers rested all their offensive starters. 

Up Next: The Niners play their third and final preseason game versus their former Bay Area rival, the Las Vegas Raiders August 29th at 1pm. 

Chiefs win edge over 49ers in clubs’ first preseason game 19-16

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) threw against the Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Demone Harris (96) at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara on Sat Aug 14, 2021 (AP News photo)

~ By Pearl Allison Lo

~ August 14, 2021

~ San Francisco almost made a late comeback Saturday, but Kansas City was able to prevail 19-16 with 1:19 left in the contest.  

49ers’ rookie quarterback Trey Lance made a splash in his debut, with an 80-yard rocket to wide receiver Trent Sherfield. 

Quarterbackwise, the traditional starters, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes each played the first drive, followed by Lance and Chad Henne.

The first three drives of the game resulted in punts. 

Kansas City got on the board first due to good field position combined with a 13-yard pass interference penalty to Talanoa Hufanga. Henne made a five yard pass to Byron Pringle with 2:57 left in the first. 

After an incomplete pass and a seven yard sack in his first drive, Lance followed it up with his 80-yarder score eight seconds later. It stayed 7-6 when kicker Robbie Gould’s extra point hit an upright. Lance finished 5-of-14 for 128 yards and was sacked four times. 

The 49ers made it two scoring drives in a row as Deommodore Lenoir intercepted Henne. Robbie Gould helped the cause at the end of the resulting drive with a 36-yard field goal, making it 9-7 with 12:29 left in the second.

Lance made another big play with 9:44 left, throwing 34 yards to Charlie Woerner. 

The Chiefs brought in “rookie” undrafted free agent quarterback Anthony Gordon with 7:45 left.

With just under a minute left before halftime, kicker Harrison Butker went for a 62-yard field goal. It would have been a career-best, but fell short. 

The 49ers led all halftime stats except for first downs.

Kansas City went up 10-9 after the first drive of the second half. It was the longest drive of the game, lasting 6:14 and culminating with a 52-yard field goal by Butker.  

After the opening drives, quarterbacks rookie Shane Buechele and Josh Rosen came in for San Francisco and the Chiefs respectively. 

The 49ers had two drives resulting consecutively in an interception and a fumble. The interception came with their closest position of the second half so far when they were on KC’s 19.

Kansas City padded their lead by three with a 46-yard Butker field goal with 4:27 left to go in the game and this sparked two more scores.

Nsimba Webster started San Francisco’s drive with a 43-yard return followed by a 34-yard rush. 

With the clock winding down and potential overtime looming, the Chiefs made sure it did not happen and Buchele walked into the endzone for the game’s final points.

The match officially ended on an illegal shift penalty to the 49ers.

Red zone totals were 2-2 for Kansas City and 1-3 for San Francisco. 

Up Next: The 49ers will face one of their Southern California counterparts next in the form of the Los Angeles Chargers at the new SoFi Stadium Sunday August 22 at 4:30pm. 

Despite 49ers’ 24-15 Win, Garoppolo Shaky in Pre-Season Debut

Photo credit: ftw.usatoday.com

By: Joe Lami

Jimmy Garoppolo fell flat in his much-anticipated return to the football field on Monday night versus the Broncos. Garoppolo started the first three drives and looked flat-out terrible. He finished 1-of-6 for zero yards with one interception and a 0.0 QB rating. On top of the pick and sack, Garoppolo had two balls batted down at the line and should’ve thrown a second pick that was dropped.

The good news is it’s early. Garoppolo hasn’t played any meaningful football since week three of last season and was obviously not comfortable on Monday. Looking skittish and nervous in the pocket, Garoppolo still has a long way to go before he’s close to where he needs to be. Saturday will be huge for his development and confidence as he gears up for the season.

Garoppolo also didn’t great offensive line helped, as the Broncos front seven got in Garoppolo’s face on half his throws. Bradley Chubb picked up two QB hits, including one on the interception that made Joe Staley look silly.

Aside from Garoppolo, the Niners looked pretty good overall in the 24-15 victory. They rushed for a combined 185 yards but only passed for 85. Raheem Mostert was noticeable finishing with 58 yards on six carries.

Deebo Samuel once again flashed his top speed on a 45-yard sweep play, bringing the ball within the one; setting up a touchdown. NFL NextGen clocked him in at 20 MPH, matching Tyreek Hill’s average speed.

The defense continued to bend and not break and allowed their first touchdown of the preseason with only eight seconds remaining. DJ Reed and Jaquaski Tartt looked excellent in the secondary. Reed finished with six tackles, a pass deflection, and QB hit; while Tartt had five tackles, two for loss, and a breakup. As a team, San Francisco had five sacks and forced a turnover.
Battle for Backup

The backup race still remains intriguing. CJ Beathard earned the majority of the snaps on Monday; completing 5-of-11 for 81 yards, marching the Niners to two of their three touchdowns. Mullens completed 2-of-3 passes for 27 yards and a touchdown pass to Kenrick Bourne on a fade.

Richie James Jr. is starting to make his case for the 53-man roster. While he hasn’t added a ton on offense, his return ability should be admired. He picked up 80 yards on two returns, including a 48-yarder.

Rookies Shine While Injuries and Penalties Concern 49ers in 17-9 Win

file photo by sfgate.com: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, right, throws a pass at the team’s NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, July 29, 2019

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA — Despite sitting nearly 30 players in their pre-season opener, the 49ers couldn’t stay away from the injury bug on Saturday night’s 17-9 win over the Cowboys.

Expected swing lineman, Shon Coleman, went down during San Francisco’s third offensive play of the game. Ruled with an ankle injury, he was put in an air cast and carted off the field.

The injury to the back-up tackle could be a huge storyline this season since he’s listed as the number two to both LT Joe Staley and RT Mike McGlinchey.

Reports also surfaced during the game that wide receiver Trent Taylor had surgery on a broken pinkie toe on Friday. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the pre-season but hopes to come back early in the regular season via a message from Instagram.

Both running back Raheem Mostert and defensive lineman DJ Jones went down for the conclusion of the contest. Mostert suffered a concussion, while Jones went out with a knee.

The battle for the back-up quarterback spot has been highlighted through camp so far. Despite their records, both Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard are neck and neck heading into the first game.

Mullens played the entire first half on Saturday night, throwing 11 of 17 for 105 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Mullens found third-round rookie Jalen Hurd for the half’s only touchdown. Chalk the interception up to Mullens getting hit during a throw.

CJ Beathard saw the field in the second half. On his first drop back, he was sacked for five yards but fared better as his night went on. Finishing 13 of 17 for 145 yards, Beathard threw a pick and a TD to Hurd.

The Niners defense held up for the most part. Bending at most times but not breaking, they forced the Cowboys to kick three field goals. Dak Prescott started the first drive for Dallas, going four-of-four for 23 yards before stalling and forced to kick a field goal.

Penalties once again remain a concern for the Niners and could be a significant sign of things to come, as they committed 18 penalties for 216 yards. In both seasons under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have finished in the bottom third of the NFL in penalties committed and Saturday night was glaring.

Rookie Spotlight

Three rookies made an impression on Saturday night. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw made the immediate impression; tallying five tackles in the first half, including four on Cowboys’ opening drive. His pursuit is noticeable and it’s obvious the fifth-round pick from Arkansas has a nose for the football.

At times, he over pursuits; picking up a roughing the passer penalty after getting to the QB too late. However, on the next play, he continued to show aggressiveness getting a tackle for loss.

Jalen Hurd’s first catch in a 49er uniform found paydirt. After a play-action rollout from Mullens, Hurd broke one tackle and battled through another defender past the goal line. Hurd added his second of the night when Beathard found him in the left corner of the end zone to start the fourth quarter.

After spending three seasons at Tennessee as a running back, Hurd converted to wide receiver while transferring to Baylor. The 6-foot-5-inch receiver has the size and means streak to become San Francisco’s answer to poor red-zone performance.

We saw second-round pick Debo Samuel get the ball once, but the kid can fly. He was able to turn the corner on a jet sweep and pick up 14 yards like it was nothing. In the third quarter, he climbed the ladder on a 45-yard reception hopping over a Cowboys’ DB to make the snag.

He finished for a combined 75 yards on five touches. He will be fun to watch as the pre-season continues.

49ers Edge Cowboys 24-21, but Injuries Damper SF’s Win

Photo credit: @49ers

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Faithful were rolling into Levi’s Stadium on Thursday hoping to catch a glimpse of what the 2018 season will look like. Fans may have left happy, as the San Francisco 49ers took the lead with just 18 seconds left in the contest in a 24-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but they also left concerned.

One quarter into action, the 49ers were facing injuries to three starters and two critical reserves.

Linebacker, Malcolm Smith was the first to go down with a hamstring injury. Ironically, the eight-year pro was clamoring about how much he was looking forward to getting the pre-season debut out of the way.

Moments later, Soloman Thomas went down on what appeared to be a left knee injury. However, the 49ers’ official injury report listed Thomas with a head injury with speculation that he took a cleat to the face. Thomas laid on the turf for a few minutes to a quiet crowd before going straight to the locker room.

Hopefully, the injury to Thomas won’t set him back too much as he enters a crucial season to show his worth of being selected third overall in the 2017 draft.

George Kittle was the final starter to go down with an injury. On a deep ball from Garoppolo, Kittle was forced to lay out attempting to make the spectacular grab, but he came up short, and upon coming to the ground, his right shoulder got caught underneath his body.

The loss of Kittle could be huge for the 49ers, as he proved to be a big-time target for Garoppolo last season.

Key reserves, Matt Brieda and Garry Gilliam also went down with injuries.

If Brieda’s appears to be serious, it could shake up how the final 53-man roster is completed, as he was expected to be a lock and the primary run between the tackles back.

Shanahan mentioned post-game that he expects there to be time with Brieda and Kittle and both are going to be questionable heading into next Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans at 5 pm PDT.

His injury led to extensive playing time for both Raheem Mostert and Joe Williams, who switched between drives the majority of the game. Williams saw most the carries finishing with 11 for 27 yards and punching in a score from a yard out. Mostert carried the ball eight times for 57 yards including breaking off a long 23-yard rush to the right.

“It’s what scares you about pre-season, sometimes you just want the game to end,” said Shanahan.

Other Key Observations
Jimmie Ward’s move back to cornerback was quickly picked on by Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. The starting quarterback’s only touchdown pass was also his last as he threw a 30-yard bomb to Michael Gallup that turned Ward around to put the Cowboys up five minutes into the game.

The starting defense wasn’t completely lost. The biggest play of the starter’s night came on a sack split by DeForest Buckner and Thomas. Buckner, who is starting to experiment moving to the outside on the defensive line, is appearing to become the playmaker the Niners were searching for when they selected him seventh overall in 2016.

Garoppolo was held to just one drive. Going 3-of-6 for 34 yards and a 67.4 rating, Garoppolo found a connection early with Marquise Goodwin for 18 yards. His other two completions were to Jerrick McKinnon and the seventh-round pick, Richie James Jr. More importantly, the completions to Goodwin and James both converted long third-down attempts.

James later scored the go-ahead score with just 18 seconds remaining to win the game for the Niners. Third-string QB, Nick Mullens led a beautiful 77-yard drive in only 1:42 to secure the victory. Mullens was the most efficient Niners’ passer, finishing 11-of-13 for 141 yards, a touchdown, and an interception for a 105.4 passer rating. If he continues to display this type of talent, he may get a shot at C.J. Beathard’s backup role.

49ers competitive in season-ending loss to Seahawks, then part ways with Baalke, Kelly

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) talks with head coach Chip Kelly during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

By Morris Phillips

For the third time in three seasons, the 49ers are starting over.

After an encouragingly competitive performance against the Seahawks, and a franchise-record tying 14th loss on the season, the team announced that general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly had been fired.

While Baalke’s dismissal had been widely anticipated for weeks, Kelly’s status remained uncertain until the reports surfaced the night before the season finale that the coach would be let go in sweeping changes aimed at getting the struggling franchise righted.

“I have informed Trent and Chip of my decision to pursue new leadership for our football team. These types of conversations are never easy, especially when they involve people you respect personally and professionally,” team CEO Jed York said in a statement released after the game.

“Despite my feelings for Trent and Chip, I felt the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary.  The performance of this team has not lived up to my expectations or those of our fans, and that is truly disappointing. Weall expected to see this team progress and develop as the season went on, but unfortunately that did not happen. That is why now is the time to find a new direction for this team.”

Whoever is hired to replace Baalke and Kelly, will enter a situation with as clean as cupboard as can be found in the NFL, and will inevitably ask for as much time as possible to right the ship.  The 49ers could say goodbye to all three quarterbacks currently on the roster, including Sunday’s starter Colin Kaepernick, whose restructured deal gives him a player option that he is likely to decline.

Beyond the quarterback position the most likely players to return with potential of transformative impact are rookie defensive end DeForrest Buckner and possibly behemoth offensive tackle Trent Brown. Tight end Vance McDonald recently signed a contract extension, but missed the team’s final four games due to injury.  Most NFL talent evaluators when asked have pointed to the team’s rosters lack of impact talent, especially at the offensive skill positions.

At the critical linebacker positions, the team will return NaVorro Bowman, whose 2016 season was cut short due to an Achilles rupture, Eli Harold, Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine. Longtime veteran edge rusher Ahmad Brooks isn’t likely to return.

The team’s secondary could see upheaval as well despite the presence of valued draftees Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.

Veteran kicker Phil Dawson said after the game he will take a couple of weeks to determine his future in football.  If the 41-year old Dawson opts to resume his football career, that does not automatically mean that he returns to San Francisco.

Given the lack of talent and uncertainty within the team’s roster, and York’s frequent firings, attracting a top-notch talent evaluating GM and a compatible coach won’t be easy.  The top candidates for those positions–Scott Pioli, Trent Kirchner, Eliot Wolf for general manager, and Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels for head coach–are expected to be in high demand  with at least six teams expected to make similar changes.

Just last off-season, Chip Kelly was hired after several bigger targets turned down the 49ers and York.

In Kelly, the 49ers had a capable coach whose team frequently enjoyed success early in ballgames only to see things stagnate once strategic adjustments were made.  Kelly also had the respect of his players, no small feat, just one year removed from Philadelphia, where the former college coach did not have the respect  of all his players.

On Sunday, the 49ers started fast again, leading 14-3 at one point as Kaepernick completed his first 10 passes and ran for 18 yards on four carries.

Afterwards, several Seahawks’ players admitted that the 49ers’ quick-hitting rushing attack hadn’t shown up on film and initally confused the Seahawks’ defensive front.  But Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said afterwards that a series of adjustments along the Seattle defensive line helped to slow the 49ers, who started Shaun Draughn at running back in place of the injured Carlos Hyde.

After leading 14-3, the 49ers allowed Seattle 16 unanswered points and a 19-14 lead in the third quarter.   Besides a gift safety where Seattle long snapper Nolan Frese snapped the ball over the head and out of reach of punter Jon Ryan, the 49ers were shut down the rest of the way save a Kaepernick touchdown pass to Grant Celek with 5:42 remaining.

With Seattle’s playoff positioning decided as the high-scoring Falcons put the finishing touches on the Saints to claim the NFC’s No. 2 seed, Carroll opted to bench quarterback Russell Wilson and several other starters as a precautionary move. But backup Trevone Boykin came on to convert two, critical third down opportunities and help the Seahawks run out the clock.

Ironically,  with Wilson in the game, the Seahawks failed to convert third downs on nine of ten opportunities.  But with Boykin aboard, the Seahawks converted their last two.

The 25-23 loss was the narrowest of the 49ers’ 14 losses.  As a result of the outcome, and the Browns’ loss earlier to Pittsburgh, the 49ers will pick second in the upcoming spring draft.

49ers suffer in the snow, then buried in an avalanche of points in 26-6 loss to the Bears


By Morris Phillips

CHICAGO–It was so-goes-Kap, so-goes-the-49ers in Chicago on Sunday.

With the clock running out in the Bears’ 26-6, snow-covered victory over the 49ers, and the Soldier Field house announcer bellowing “Barkley takes a knee,” cheering could be heard in the half-empty, remodeled stadium.  Behind the south goalpost stood Staley Da Bear, the teams’ mascot within ear shot of dozens of fans still lingering in the stands, one of whom couldn’t resist the moment to shout, “take a knee, just like Kaepernick.”

Ever a jokester, Staley turned to acknowledge the fan, and did his exaggerated, double-over in approval of the humor.

Across the field stood Colin Kaepernick himself, in no mood to be a punchline, after being benched in the fourth quarter, after the first three quarters added up to a first-ever for an NFL quarterback.  On a dreadful afternoon for offensive football, the 49ers ran 55 plays to accumulate 147 yards in total offense, and Kaepernick became the first to get sacked at least five times, while throwing for fewer than five yards (4).

Four yards passing, five sacks.  Once again, not your typical NFL Sunday afternoon.  Not when the two teams are a combined 3-19, and a pair of quarterbacks who started the season as backups are trying to fling the ball around in a steady, snowstorm.  Even Coach Chip Kelly struggled with how to deal with it all, before benching Kaepernick.

“I was just watching how the ball was coming off his hands and what our chances were of completing it,” Kelly said when asked how his starting quarterback threw so few passes.  “Maybe I was too cautious but we didn’t look like we were doing much in the passing game and when we had some called, we needed to get it out quicker.”

Of the 10 pass plays executed while Kaepernick was on the field, five ended with sacks.

Even more challenging was the flow of the game.  With the 49ers’ defense bottling up the Bears, and doing one of the few things they’ve done well all year—frustrate opposing run attacks by bringing extra people around the line of scrimmage—the Bears started slow.  How slow?

Barkley didn’t complete a pass until late in the second quarter.  In fact, neither Barkley or Kaepernick completed a pass in the first quarter, marking the first time no passes had been completed in an opening quarter of an NFL game in more than 28 years.  The Bears sat seemingly stuck on 45 yards total offense with one, successful third down conversion until their final drive of the half, trailing the 49ers 6-0.

Then the tenor of the game changed… in a hurry.

After starting 0 for 3, Barkley would complete eight of his next 10 passes, as the Bears exploded with touchdowns on three, consecutive drives.  That allowed the Bears to take the lead at the half, 7-6, then put the game away with their first, two possessions of the second half.

“Yeah, it took me a quarter or so to get used to throwing the ball with those conditions,” Barkley, the USC product and California prep, said.  “I really had to adjust my arm angle and almost push the ball out instead of flinging it, because my thumb would slip out.  But once we got used to that, we were still calling plays and we didn’t really hold back on anything in the game plan.  Plays were open, and guys were getting open.  I think the conditions gave us an advantage on offense, given that the DB’s didn’t have traction when they were trying to cover breaking routes.”

While the Bears started slower, the 49ers started slow as well.  In a scoreless game in the second quarter, the 49ers received breaks on consecutive Bears’ possessions, first Shaun Draughn blocked Patrick O’Donnell’s punt, then Jimmie Ward recovered a fumble.  Both Chicago gaffes set the 49ers up deep in Bears’ territory, but they yielded just two field goals and a 6-0 lead that evaporated quicker than it was realized.

After Draughn’s punt block, Dontae Johnson scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone for an apparent touchdown.  But that didn’t stand; the refs concluded that Johnson stepped out of bounds, then flagged safety Rashard Robinson for overzealously celebrating what he thought was the game’s initial touchdown.

One a day of firsts and skewed numbers, this grouping stood out when it was all over.  The 49ers, who had cleaned up their act in recent weeks, drew 11 penalties for 106 yards, many of those in the first half.  The second half? Not as many yellow flags, but the team’s offense accumulated just two first downs and 39 yards.

Blaine Gabbert came on, and accomplished one thing: the 49ers’ passing yards sat at -29 when Kap departed, but Gabbert turned that into a positive.   Still, the 49ers’ six yards passing ranks as the second fewest yards in a game in the history of the franchise.

NOTES: Carlos Hyde initially gave the 49ers an edge in what appeared to be trending toward a 49ers’ victory.  Hyde had 43 yards rushing in the first quarter, but finished with just 92.

Kaepernick was the subject of intense protest prior to the game, as a group of Chicagoans demanded that he discontinue his pre-game protests in deference to the game’s location, Soldiers Field.  When asked about his stance after the game, Kaepernick remained resolute.

“Yeah, I will continue to do it.  This is something, there are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed.  There is significance being here today, seeing it’s the anniversary of the assassination of chairman Fred Hampton.  Being in Chicago, being able to acknowledge a black figure, a black leader like him is very important and his role as a leader in this community and bringing this community together is something that needs to be acknowledged.”

The 49ers return to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday in a matchup with AFC East opponent, the New York Jets (4-6).  The 49ers have an additional day of preparation for the game as the Jets are home Monday night for a game with the Colts.  The 49ers are 0-3 against AFC East opponents this season with losses to the Dolphins, Bills and Patriots.