In the first half of the contest San Francisco 49ers linebacker Marcell Harris, left, tackles Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sun Oct 31, 2021 (AP News photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
CHICAGO—It was a good homecoming for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Arlington Heights, Illinois native rallied his team to a 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
Garoppolo, who has been the subject of much criticism the past couple of weeks for his poor play on the field, finished with 17 of 22 for 322 yards with no passing touchdowns and no interceptions however his two rushing touchdowns were the difference for the 49ers that were in desperate need of a win.
San Francisco snapped its four game losing streak. Chicago has lost three games in a row and have dropped to two games below .500.
Both teams traded field goals in the first quarter as both offenses started off slowly. Cairo Santos hit a 39 yard field goal for Chicago and Joey Slye hit a 48 yard field goal (after missing one from the same distance on the 49ers first possession) with 1:47 left in the quarter.
Chicago (3-5) scored the first touchdown of the game early in the second quarter. Bears quarterback Justin Fields led a 11 play 74-yard drive against the 49ers defense that resulted in a eight yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Jesse James. Fields did a bootleg to the left side and threw the ball to a diving James to give the Bears a 10-3 lead with 12:03 remaining.
Once again both teams traded field goals on their next possession as both defenses bent but didn’t break.
San Francisco (3-4) ended the half cutting the Chicago’s lead to 13-9 with their third field goal to close out the half. With 1:16 left in the second quarter Garoppolo led a seven play 71-yard drive down the field. The 22-yard Slye field goal was set up with a 50-yard reception deep down the field to Deebo Samuel from Garopollo that set up the 49ers at the Bears five yard line.
Chicago dominated the time of possession in the first half with almost a two-to-one margin over San Francisco. The Bears were six of eight on third down possessions.
Trailing by seven, the 49ers scored on their first possession of the second half. On a third and 20, Garoppolo threw a wide receiver screen to Samuel who run the ball all the way to the one-line yard line for 83 yards to set up 1st and goal at the one yard line. Garropolo finished off the drive with a two yard rushing touchdown on a scramble to the left side after what was supposed to be a end around to Samuel.
What was a quiet first half in terms of scoring, the second half was went wild with both teams combined for 23 points in the fourth quarter.
San Francisco gained their first lead early in the fourth quarter. Running back Elijah Mitchell capped off a six play 52 yard drive with a six yard rushing touchdown. The drive was set up by a 21-yard punt return by Brandon Aiyuk.
San Francisco converted the two-point conversion when Garoppolo found Aiyuk in the endzone with a pass over the middle.
Chicago answered back on its next drive. Fields marched the Bears down the field on a nine play 68-yard drive that he finished off with an improbably 22-yard rushing yard touchdown. On a fourth and one from the 22 yard line, Fields was looking to pass the ball to running back Khalil Herbert out in the flat. San Francisco’s defense had it covered and looked to have Fields stopped in the backfield. The rookie quarterback made four 49ers defenders miss as he reversed field, made it out to the edge and ran into the endzone for a highlight reel of a play.
Santos missed the extra point as the 49ers held a 23-22 edge.
The 49ers responded in just five plays to answer Chicago’s touchdown. Mitchell had runs of 24 and 25 yards to set up Garopollo’s second rushing touchdown, a designed quarterback keeper to the left side where Garopollo dived into the endzone from five yards out.
After a three and out by Chicago, Slye iced the game for San Francisco with a 32 yard field goal with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter.
Josh Norman, who also had been a subject of criticism, sealed the game with his first interception of the season with 1:34 left in the game when the ball hit off the hands off of Bears receiver Darnell Mooney.
Mitchell led all running backs with 137 yards on 18 carries, including his longest run of 39 yards. Samuel had another great performance with six receptions for 171 yards. Fred Warner returned to form to lead the 49ers defense.
Fields finished 19 of 27 for 175 yards with one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and one interception. Herbert led the Bears in rushing with 72 yards on 23 carries. Mooney was their leading receiver six catches for 64 yards.
GAME NOTES- San Francisco finished 4-for-10 on third down conversions. Chicago was 8-for-15.
Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson has a reception in 96 straight game.
UP NEXT: San Francisco host the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals on Sunday 11/7 at 1:25 pm at Levi’s Stadium.