The Chicago Bears were crowing that Trey Lance “ain’t do sh*t” in his first game as the full-time starter, and the 49ers managed to look even worse than the underdog Bears in a bad-weather Chicago game.
Your San Francisco 49ers came into the season Sunday favored by a full touchdown over the traditionally mediocre Chicago Bears, in a game that seemed perfect for new starting quarterback Trey Lance to get his sea legs beneath him. But these weren’t the kind of sea legs Lance expected to have to use, and in a bad-weather game the likes of which one does not expect to see in September on a waterlogged Soldier Field, the 49ers pulled a nauseating, baffling fourth-quarter choke job and lost 19-10 to a frankly very badly performing Chicago Bears team.
Justin Fields and the Bears celebrated their win on the Soldier Field Slip ‘N Slide. pic.twitter.com/Zk9DDWL3hm— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) September 11, 2022
How bad were the Chicago Bears? At halftime, Bears quarterback Justin Fields had thrown for only 19 yards — and had a quarterback rating of 2.8. Yet the same inept Bears, who did not even make it into 49ers territory until the two-minute warning just before halftime, and did not score a single point until there was barely more than 20 minutes left in the game, ripped off 19 unanswered in a mostly fourth-quarter surge.
The Bears really got a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for wiping down the field with a towel 💀— PFF (@PFF) September 11, 2022
This despite a very bizarre, 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for trying to dry the field with a towel that knocked Bears out of field goal range, and seemed to establish the Niners’ opponent as a gang that couldn’t shoot straight. And yet.
While billed as the beginning of the Trey Lance era, this was technically his third start; he started last year in a Week Five loss to the Cardinals, and a Week Eight win against these same Chicago Bears. And Lance did have a couple of lovely throws, but he was off-target just as much as he was on-target. And his performance will be remembered for the two fourth-quarter comeback-killers of an interception in 49ers territory with less than ten minutes left in the game, and for missing fullback Kyle Juszczyk badly on a last-gasp fourth-and-eight.
“He ain’t do shit,” Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said after the game, in a sound bite that may haunt Lance for a while. “We made him play quarterback. We know he hurt us in the run game with his feet.”
The 49ers’ costly defensive cock-ups are more realistically what lost this game. An astonishing blown coverage allowed the Bears’ Dante Pettis to waltz in untouched on a 51-yard touchdown late in the third. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair gifted the Bears a late hit on Fields on what would have been a drive-killing fourth quarter stop, and moments laters was an 18-yard touchdown pass to the Bears’ Equanimeous St. Brown.
So this loss was not so much Trey Lance’s fault, but instead the fault of the team’s 12 penalties, five of them crucial ones in the fourth quarter. Lance out-rushed any of the Bears’ actual running backs, but in the terrible weather, he was dogged by inaccurate throws all afternoon.
What is going to remain unspoken in the locker room, but will be much-discussed on the internet and sports-talk radio, is that the 49ers must be very glad they didn’t trade Jimmy Garoppolo. And they’re particularly glad they didn’t trade Garoppolo to the Seattle Seahawks, who were reportedly his most interested suitor.
Because the 49ers play the Seahawks this coming Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara.
Image: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts a pass during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)