Bears dominate 49’ers

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The Chicago Bears scored 26 unanswered points and rookie running back Jordan Howard rushed for three touchdowns in a dominating 26-6 win over the San Francisco 49’ers at snowy Soldier Field. The Bears notched a rare home victory to move to 3-9 on the season, while the hapless 49’ers dropped their 11th consecutive game to fall to 1-11.

On a day when conditions on the lakefront reduced visibility and made traction slippery, things didn’t start out well for the Bears. San Francisco took advantage of two special teams mistakes, a Pat O’Donnell blocked punt and a fumble recovery on the ensuring kickoff by returner Deonte Thompson, to take a early 6-0 lead on the strength of two Phil Dawson field goals (31 and 28 yards).  Neither team could generate a passing attack, though San Francisco was able to control the clock and field position throughout most of the first half.

Things all changed when the Bears took over in the first half’s final two minutes trailing 6-0. Chicago QB Matt Barkley, much like last week when he nearly rallied the Bears to victory, found success through the air. He moved the club quickly downfield, culminating in Howard’s one-yard plunge to tie the game at 6. Connor Barth’s extra point gave Chicago a 7-6 advantage at the halftime break.

In the second half, it was all Bears as Howard punished 49’er defenders on the ground with his relentless and methodical running style. He finished with 117-yards on 32 carries, adding two touchdown runs of 2 and 5-yards to complete a workmanlike performance. Barkley complemented the rushing attack with an efficient 11-of-18 performance for 192-yards, displaying the poise and vision that should earn him a strong look as a backup in 2017.

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Defensively, Chicago forced the 49’ers to be one-dimensional. San Francisco starting QB Colin Kaepernick was ineffective in the challenging weather condition

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s. The Bears sacked Kaepernick and backup Blaine Gabbert six times, effectively muting the 49’ers passing game. San Francisco finished with a paltry 6-yards of passing yardage and totaled over 100-yards in penalties.

Unofficially, Bears DT Akiem Hicks collected two sacks and 8 solo tackles while rookie Leonard Floyd, in his first action since a scary neck injury two weeks ago, finished with two sacks, including one for a safety, to wrap up the Chicago scoring in the fourth quarter.

After feasting on one of the NFL’s worst teams, the Bears hit the road next Sunday to face the NFC North division-leading Detroit Lions.

Bear Tracks: The Bears recorded their highest-scoring output of the season offensively and defensively, held a team without a touchdown for the second time this season….WR Josh Bellamy redeemed himself somewhat by leading the Chicago receivers with four catches for 93-yards, though he dropped a pair of catchable balls…Howard’s three touchdowns as a rookie were the first since Gale Sayers in 1965….K Connor Barth booted a 45-yard field goal.

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