Going into this past Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers defense was staying on the field for an average of just over 73 snaps per game. At Soldier Field, the defense received a bit of a break and was on the field for just 37 snaps – about half the season average.

The low number was due to a 49ers offense that held the ball for nearly 39 minutes, which is the highest time of possession by the team in a single game since a 2014 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers (42:17).

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh enjoyed playing the role of a spectator for much of the game.

"It was awesome to be able to sit back and watch the offense go to work," Saleh told reporters on Thursday. "You don't get many opportunities at that. I don't care what team you play for; you just don't get opportunities to be a spectator as much. So it was pretty cool."

Staying off of the football field is the best way to keep your defensive players fresh. The success of the 49ers offense on Sunday was contagious for the defense and encouraged the unit to get off of the field faster.

"It is contagious when the offense is moving the ball," Saleh said. "You could hear our guys on the sideline, the urgency at which they felt they needed to get the ball back for the offense because they're doing so well. It's a team game. It's not different if the defense is getting three-and-outs, the offense is going to feel like they need to get going. If the offense is staying on the field, the defense is going to feel like they need to get them the ball."

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who started his first game since being traded to the 49ers on October 30, has received much of the credit for the offense's ability to move the football on Sunday.

While Saleh's focus is always on the defense, he could not help but notice Garoppolo in command of the 49ers offense. He certainly had the time on the sideline to watch the quarterback as he hit on 26 of his 37 pass attempts for a career-high 293 yards.

"We're in our own cocoon," Saleh said. "You can't help but notice the first few weeks when he was working on 7-on-7, he's got a really cool deminer. He's got a really good arm. I don't know what goes on on the offensive side of the ball. I don't know anything else except for what I see. Guys are excited. Like we talked about earlier, there was an urgency on the sideline to get the offense the ball."

One 49ers player that enjoyed Garoppolo's performance and what it meant for the defense was rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

"He brought a great energy to the game, and we were riding with him," Thomas said this week on our "No Huddle" podcast. "We loved it. He helped the defense a lot. The offense played well. The offensive line, receivers, running backs, Jimmy, they all played amazing to keep us off the field. We only had 37 snaps, which is extremely low. The offense helped us out a lot.

"Jimmy had great control of the game, great tempo, he's very poised. It was fun to watch. It was pretty amazing. We just have a good energy going on right now."



Gaoppolo wasn't the only one elevating the 49ers offense in Chicago. The offensive line, in combination with Garoppolo's quick release of the football, kept the quarterback clean for much of the day. Garoppolo was under pressure on just nine of his 40 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor were targeted 14 times during the game and came away with 14 catches for a combined 191 receiving yards.

"I get that quarterback is a big deal but the rest of the offense seemed like they were playing really good ball," Saleh said. "The O-line looked like they had their best day. The receivers were making some really good plays and running backs were doing a really good job. It just comes down to team ball, as you guys know."