Backup quarterback Jason Campbell was pestered all night by an aggressive 49ers pass-rush and the Bears defense was unable to stop a perfect game plan set forth and executed by San Francisco.
After the loss, the question is how much this one game will affect the rest of the 2012 season for the Bears. It will be answered when quarterback Jay Cutler returns under center, which could happen as early as Sunday against the 6-4 Minnesota Vikings.
Currently riding a two-game losing streak, the Bears do need to get things back on track soon. But did anyone expect this team to win both games against the Houston Texans and 49ers—or either game for that matter?
Sure, Chicago needs to demonstrate the ability to beat the other teams vying for elite status in this league. But the regular season is used as a barometer to see how you stack up against your opposition, so not much stock should be put into the losses—especially tonight with Cutler sitting out.
It is rare that any team in the NFL survives long stretches without its starting quarterback; the Bears proved that last season, among other injuries.
With Cutler, are the Bears legitimate Super Bowl contenders?
Though the closing schedule is much tougher that what allowed Chicago to get off to its 7-3 start—two games with the Vikings, home contests against the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers and road games with the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions—the cushion should be enough at this point to make the postseason if Cutler can remain healthy.
Campbell was never able to get anything going, completing 14-of-22 passes for just 107 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball twice.
How much of that was due to the 49ers' defense or Campbell's rust or inability? It probably lies somewhere in between, though Cutler would have certainly played this game much closer.
Maybe the Bears ran into a buzz saw Monday night. The 49ers were coming off a frustrating tie with the St. Louis Rams and drew a Chicago team coming off a defeat of their own and were missing their starting quarterback.
Having a full arsenal would have benefited the Bears, even in a loss. But this team has a great defense and a good enough offense to right the ship, assuming Cutler is around to lead the charge.