San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears: Full Report Card Grades for 49ers
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick completed just one of five passes for a total of four yards before getting the hook. In his stead, Gabbert didn't fare much better, completing four of 10 passes for 35 yards. For a team that is looking for direction, it received nothing on either side of the ball.
The defense allowed three rushing touchdowns and a 100-yard rusher in running back Jordan Howard while only notching one sack on the day. This type of play is not good enough, which is why the team is 1-11 and showing no signs of getting back on track.
The snowy conditions prompted both teams to adjust accordingly by using run-heavy offenses. As a result, both Kaepernick and Bears quarterback Matt Barkley were held without completions in the first quarter. To make matters worse, Kaepernick completed just one pass during the first half, a four-yard completion to tight end Vance McDonald.
Aside from the limited opportunities in the passing game, it was Kaepernick's inability to secure field position that warrants a failing grade. Two times during the first half, Kaepernick held onto the ball longer than needed, which led to sacks and lost field position. He needs to get rid of the ball, especially in porous conditions where field position is at a premium.
Enough was enough for head coach Chip Kelly, as he benched Kaepernick in favor of Gabbert.
San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde ran wild with 17 carries for 74 yards in the first half. He attacked the line with a purpose while being patient in his reads. However, the success was short-lived, as Hyde yielded just 18 yards in the second half for a total of 92 on the day.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
The 49ers' offensive game plan was simple, conservative and predictable. Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball. That allowed the Bears to stack the box while daring Kaepernick to beat them deep downfield. That never came to fruition.
No 49ers wide receiver was targeted often, and aside from a few plays between the 20s, that unit was a non-factor, as the team's leading receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 18 yards on one catch.
San Francisco's offensive line was inconsistent, to say the least. The unit generated nice push in the run game but allowed two sacks and numerous quarterback hurries in the first half. Additionally, first-round pick Joshua Garnett was called for a crucial 10-yard holding penalty, which only adds to the up-and-down rookie season he has been having this year.
The second half wasn't much better. Four more second-half sacks, including a safety by linebacker Leonard Floyd, summed up this game. Tackle Trent Brown broke the cardinal rule of giving up inside leverage, allowing Floyd a free inside pass to Gabbert. Brown has now allowed four sacks to speed rushers in his last four games.
San Francisco's front seven kept the Bears' running game in check in the first half, holding Chicago to a lowly 51 rushing yards. However, Jordan Howard did reach the end zone right before the half, with the Bears running away from defensive end Ronald Blair's side.
Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey continues to be the rock in the middle, and Blair did a nice job setting the edge with fellow defensive end DeForest Buckner. However, Howard scored two more times, and that alone is enough to warrant a failing grade for this unit.
Second-year linebacker Eli Harold did a nice job setting the edge while recording a tackle for loss for the second consecutive week. A player who is slowly coming into his own, Harold did a nice job against both the run and pass.
Then we have 11-year veteran Ahmad Brooks. The team's most consistent defensive player quietly pieced together a nice game, recording two tackles and a sack.
Not much else to report here, as the inside linebacker position continues to be the team's weakness.
Cornerback Jimmie Ward has Pro Bowl potential. It's not his fault he's not producing, as he's playing out of position. Ward was beat numerous times on double moves and post routes, which led to Bears scoring drives. Simply put, Ward is a natural fit at free safety. Why he hasn't been playing there is a mystery.
Time and time again, we see strong safety Antoine Bethea take poor angles to ball-carriers while free safety Eric Reid displays that he doesn't have the range to cover the deep half. Ward can easily solve this problem.
As for the other cornerback, it was Tramaine Brock who continued to be picked on. From being called for defensive holding to a crucial pass-interference penalty in the end zone, it's becoming more apparent that Brock is not the answer nor future.
The secondary allowed 192 yards through the air to second- and third-string wide receivers.