Bears feeling after-effects of giving Kaepernick time
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
There was no shortage of praise for the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive game plan from members of the Bears’ defense after they were dismantled before a national audience.
Cornerback Tim Jennings used the words ‘‘great’’ and ‘‘excellent’’ to describe it. And safety Major Wright said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman did a great job of ‘‘catching us on our toes.’’
As members of the Bears’ often-heralded secondary, Jennings and Wright were the ones seemingly always giving chase or attempting to make open-field tackles as the 49ers had their way in a 32-7 romp.
But it’s the Bears’ defensive front — arguably the team’s biggest strength — that should shoulder the blame for not getting to 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In fact, some of the defensive linemen said afterward that they want that blame after being handled by a stout 49ers offensive line.
‘‘They had time to throw the football,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said when asked why the 49ers beat the Bears’ secondary.
As much as Kaepernick’s play-action fakes affected the secondary — particularly safeties Wright and Chris Conte — they also slowed the Bears’ vaunted pass rush. A handful of Bears said they were surprised by what they got from the 49ers’ offense.
‘‘They did a good job of selling play action, but still that’s no excuse,’’ said defensive end Corey Wootton, who shared the Bears’ only sack of Kaepernick with Israel Idonije. ‘‘We have to be better as a front.’’
According to Pro Football Focus, Kaepernick felt no pressure on 17 of his 26 dropbacks. He completed 13 of those 17 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick was hurried 10 times, three from defensive end Julius Peppers. The Bears only had three tackles for loss.
The Bears said they used more man-to-man coverages as they focused on the 49ers’ top-ranked run game, but the 49ers were able to exploit it because Kaepernick was never under duress.
Even on passing downs, the Bears struggled to break through the 49ers’ line. Kaepernick’s 57-yard strike to Kyle Williams is a good example. It came on third-and-seven and from a shotgun formation, but Kaepernick had ample time to see Williams’ route develop.
‘‘[Kaepernick] did whatever he wanted to do,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘He had all kinds of time.’’
Kaepernick had six completions of 20 yards or more, the most the Bears have allowed this season. They had only allowed 26 completions of 20 yards or more in their first nine games.
The lack of pressure, as always, led to fewer chances for turnovers. The Bears are now 1-3 when losing the turnover battle.
‘‘Whenever we look and see a minus-2 with the turnover ratio, it’s not a good night for us,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.
Making matters worse for the Bears’ defense was watching 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith violently go about sacking Jason Campbell 5½ times.
‘‘He’s a good football player,’’ Lovie Smith said. ‘‘We thought we’d be able to block him a little bit better.’’