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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Washed Out in Season Opener vs. Bears

Sep 11, 2022 at 5:13 PM--

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and the demarcation between the two arrived as a wall of rain that descended upon the 49ers in their 19-10 loss against the Bears on Sunday.

The first part of the game, regrettably the shortest portion, did in fact portend nothing but cheer for the 49ers as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Lance made several big throws early, and Elijah Mitchell began his day with five runs for 40 yards before suffering a knee injury. The 49er defense was dominant, holding the Bears' offense to five punts and an interception on their first six drives.

But as the second quarter started, the winds began to turn, bringing with them a driving rain. Despite reaching the two-yard line, the 49ers weren't able to find the end zone by land or air, settling for a field goal as the field turned into a sea.

From there, the team sank into a morass of their own making. As the Bears drove into the 49ers' half of the field for the first time in the game, the Niners' defensive line crashed down hard around Bears quarterback Justin Fields. But Fields escaped the pocket, and nobody picked up former 49ers draft pick Dante Pettis as he leaked out towards the far sideline. Fields found Pettis completely alone and lobbed an easy 51-yard touchdown pass to get the Bears back in it.

From there, it was all Bears, with Chicago scoring on each of their next two possessions. Their second touchdown of the day came on an 18-yard lob to Equanimeous St. Brown after the Niners were called for a late hit on Fields, and their final touchdown followed a devastating interception from Lance.

Lance's interception, which was easily his worst mistake of the day, came after staring down wide receiver Jauan Jennings as he cut into the middle of the field. The ball placement was excellent, leading Jennings into a sliding catch away from his defender. Unfortunately, Lance never looked off the safety covering the middle of the field, and Bears defender Eddie Jackson jumped the pass to give Chicago a short field. From there, the 49ers offered next to no resistance as the Bears clamped down, quickly parlaying Jackson's interception into a two-score lead.

After that, the pouring rain made things too unreliable to operate outside of an up-the-middle, grind-it-out slugfest. Shanahan tried anyways. Pressed by the two-score deficit, tried to will his team to break through the haze of rain and unforced errors. It didn't work.

As the 19-10 score would suggest, Bears kicker Eddy Piñiero failed to convert two of his three extra point attempts. Yet it was the Niners who played by far the sloppier game, committing 12 penalties for 99 yards, including five "automatic first down" penalties on the Bears' three scoring drives. Once the floodgates opened, the Niners couldn't stop the deluge of mistakes, committing 6 penalties in the second half compared to none from the Bears.

All of this culminated in a desperate back-half of the fourth quarter, in which the Niners' offense repeatedly failed to rise to the challenge in the raging storm. They valiantly managed to drive to almost midfield, despite the ground being so swampy that the yard markers had vanished. But Lance was asked to throw the ball in a monsoon and went 1/4 for 2 yards in that drive's final set of downs.

By the last drive, Lance couldn't even grip the ball properly, his passes sailing high and wide like a broken pitching machine. When the final whistle blew and the Bears slid through pools of water in the end zone, victorious, the Niners were a bloodied, wet, and cold version of the team that nearly battled to a Super Bowl berth back in February.

Now, the 49ers must dry themselves off as they make the long journey back to Santa Clara and figure out how to stiffen their resolve. Ultimately, a week one outcome means next to nothing. If Aaron Rodgers can lay an egg in week 1 and then lead his team to a 13-3 record and a second consecutive MVP award, then this game is not a referendum on Trey Lance's talent. But as little as it tells us, it is a notch in a now-growing record. And that record is one that still lacks a standout game, one in which Lance puts the team on his shoulders and carries them to victory.

Until Lance can do that, until he can take control of a game and dictate its flow rather than simply reacting to the game as it happens, there will be plenty of speculation as to his status as starting QB. The next game against a weak Seattle team should offer a good opportunity for Lance to take the next step, but if he doesn't, this season will become a race against time. The offensive line must gel, the defense must fill the holes that suddenly sunk them in the second half, and Lance must become a force behind center. Until these things happen, the 49ers will be treading water, looking desperately for a lifeline as the shore grows further and further away.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

1 Comment

  • Whattf
    What is this garbage poetry class
    Sep 11, 2022 at 9:38 PM

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