Bears sink to new low with loss to 49’ers

Bears drop second-straight, losing 26-18 to Saints.

Former Chicago Bear Robbie Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal in the closing seconds and homegrown QB Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient in leading the San Francisco 49’ers to a come-from-behind 15-14 victory over the hapless Bears Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. The 49’ers won for only the second time (2-10) this season while the Bears dropped their fifth straight contest to fall to 3-9.

Gould, who was surprisingly let go prior to the beginning of the 2016 season, converted on five short kicks to account for all of the San Francisco scoring. He savored his return to the Windy City. “I wanted this one really bad,” Gould said. “I downplayed it all week for my own peace of mind, to be honest with you. I’m just happy it went this way.”

On a balmy December afternoon that saw Chicago temperatures hovering in the mid-50’s, San Francisco looked right at home as they dominated the offensive statistics (total yards, 388-147) and time of possession (38:47-21:13). Garoppolo, making his first 49’ers start after being acquired at the trade deadline from New England, displayed command in the pocket and an accurate arm as he repeatedly found soft spots in the middle of the Chicago defense.

Garoppolo kept the chains moving, frustrating the Bears attack unit with repeated third-down conversions.  Playing in front of many friends and family, the former Eastern Illinois passer who grew up as a Bears fan in the Chicago suburbs, completed 26-of-37 passes for 293 yards and one interception. He was particularly effective in rolling out, buying extra time to throw, and then finding a open 49’ers receiver downfield. The 49’ers marched from their own 8 to the Chicago 7 on the final drive.

Meanwhile, it was the same old story for the Bears. A sputtering offense never gained traction, as San Francisco stuffed the box to stop RB Jordan Howard. Howard gained just 38 yards on 13 carries, a paltry 2.9 yards per carry average. After a positive start which included an 8 yard touchdown to Dontrelle Inman, rookie QB Mitch Trubisky suffered more growing pains. He completed 12-of-15 throws for just 102 yards. Trubisky once again held onto the ball too long and was careless with the ball, fumbling a perfect shotgun snap and losing it on another occasion when he was sacked. “I mean, there’s two ways to handle it: positively and negatively,” Trubisky said. “You put your head down and come up here and sound like a loser. Or you can just believe in what you know, go back to work and just know the guys in the locker room have your back and have their back, and have the faith that it’s going to turn around.”

The bright spot for Chicago proved to be rookie RB Tarik Cohen. Cohen had a 61-yard punt-return touchdown  in the first half.  He is the first player since TERRY METCALF (1975) and the first rookie since Pro Football Hall of Famer GALE SAYERS (1965) to have a punt-return touchdown, rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and passing touchdown in a single season.

Time may be running out for Bears embattled head coach John Fox. Finishing his third season and staring at another record with double-digit losses, Fox’s Chicago record stands at 12-32.  He admitted afterwards he’s at a loss to come up with solutions. “It was hard to even talk to the team after this loss,” he said.

The Bears travel to Cincinnati next Sunday.

Bears Bits: More injuries for Chicago…Guard Kyle Long missed the second half with what could be a significant shoulder injury….K Cairo Santos tweaked his groin and was unable to kick off. Punter Pat O’Donnell would have kicked field goals if the Bears had attempted one…DT Mitch Unrein left with a knee injury and LB Pernell McPhee left early in the contest (shoulder)….CB Kyle Fuller stood out, making his first interception and collecting 5 tackles, 2 pass break-ups, and a tackle for loss….LB Danny Trevathan returned and was credited with 11 stops…..Fellow LB Christian Jones led the Chicago defense with 13 tackles.

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