3 and Out: Bears rally in 2nd half to win season opener against 49ers

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is brought down by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner after scrambling for yardage during their game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Bears defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 19-10, on Sunday at a rain-soaked Soldier Field in head coach Matt Eberflus’ debut. Here is what you need to know:

Three moments that mattered

1. Off on the right foot: In a rain-soaked Soldier Field by game’s end, the Bears emerged victorious from a contest that did not appear to be trending that way in the first half. The defense played disciplined and physically, while Justin Fields and company finished drives. A chant of “Let’s go Bears” from home fans to kick off the Eberflus era bodes well for a team that is fighting low preseason expectations.

2. Go-ahead time: With 12:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fields found wideout Equanimeous St. Brown for the go-ahead 18-yard touchdown. The 49ers’ defense had two costly penalties on the drive, but the biggest one was on Azeez Al-Shaair, who hit Fields late on a sliding rush. At that point in the contest, the 49ers were out-penalized 8-3, and they all added up.

3. First of many? With 5:32 left in the third quarter, the Bears got on the board with a 51-yard touchdown from Fields to Dante Pettis. Fields, who originally scrambled to his left, forced the defense to flow to that half of the field. Pettis, meanwhile, was all alone and Fields let it loose. It was the first touchdown for the Bears under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Three things that worked

1. Execution: The Bears made 49ers QB Trey Lance look quite uncomfortable, and despite a relatively promising first half from the former No. 3 overall pick, the defense clamped down. Deebo Samuel was neutralized and the loss of tight end George Kittle might’ve loomed a little larger than on first glance.

2. Getsy stayed patient: The stats don’t lie and at the half, the Bears’ offense generated zero points, averaged 2.3 yards per gain and were 2 for 8 on third down. By final whistle, that rose to 4.1 yards per gain, and the Bears finished drives with points. Fields’ athleticism led to some extra time for plays to develop downfield, but the Bears seemed to get away from slower-developing routes in favor of shorter crosses and easier reads for Fields. The run game got going, too, considering the rain.

3. Rookies ace first test: Dominque Robinson, the Bears’ fifth-round draft choice, introduced himself well to the NFL with a 1 1/2-sack debut. The defensive rookies, overall, made a positive impact with Jaquan Brisker recovering a fumble and Robinson’s consistent pass rush. The lone blemish was Kyler Gordon getting beat for a 44-yard completion on the 49ers’ opening second-half possession, which later resulted in a field goal.

Three things that didn’t

1. Work in progress: It shouldn’t be a major concern moving forward, but wideout Darnell Mooney only had one reception on three targets, while tight end Cole Kmet didn’t record a catch.

2. That’s a first: With an impending 47-yard field goal attempt with 38 seconds left in the half, Trenton Gill, the team’s rookie punter and holder on the field-goal unit, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for bringing a towel onto the field and wiping it preceding the attempt. The penalty forced them out of range and the Bears’ most fruitful offensive drive to that point of the game was for naught. The 49ers then took a 7-0 lead into the half.

3. Merry-guard round: After an uneven preseason that saw everything from training camp absences, trade rumors and all, Teven Jenkins appeared in the first two offensive series starting at right guard. By the third, he was promptly replaced by Lucas Patrick, and he lasted for two series before Jenkins finished the half. Clearly, there’s a rotation ongoing, which carried into the second half. The Bears’ offense struggled to find continuity. They don’t apparently have much at right guard yet.

What’s next?

The Bears visit the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field for Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.