From the moment I drove into the parking lot at 12:30 pm, I knew a magical night would ensue. A state-of-the-art stadium that the Forever Faithful now call home, Levi’s Stadium was alive and kicking hours before kickoff. From the numerous tailgates to the pre-game festivity, it was a day I will never forget as the San Francisco 49ers (2-0) faced the Chicago Bears (0-2) in their home opener. So how did the 49ers perform when the lights came on? Not good.
An offense that was very efficient in Week 1, the 49ers had a strong performance early on as 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick thew a 3-yard touchdown pass to WR Michael Crabtree.
A touchdown that came at the Bears expense, as Crabtree scored on a quick flat-route on the three-yard line, it was Crabtree who scored the first ever touchdown at Levi’s Stadium. A prediction I made earlier as I said that Crabtree would score one touchdown while racking up 80 yards receiving, he did not disappoint as he routinely made great catches while giving the Forever Faithful something to cheer about. A touchdown score that would have otherwise not have happened had it not been for a great special-teams block by rookie fifth-round pick (No. 150) OLB Aaron Lynch, it was his “go-go gadget arms” that allowed that play to happen (credit: Chris Biderman).
The 49ers would then go on to score 10 more unanswered points as they took a commanding 17-0 lead. Led by RB Frank Gore who scored on an 8-yard run, he was the engine that continues to make that offense go. A prediction we made as we said that Gore would score a touchdown while him and Hyde rack up 140 rushing yards, Gore did just that.
However, the Bears would strike back as WR Brandon Marshall scored on a skinny post-route inside the redzone. A player that I anticipated being QB Jay Cutler’s No. 1 target in redzone opportunities as I said:
“The majority of Marshall’s routes under Bears OC Aaron Kromer’s scheme are strictly quick slants (2-route), dig (6-route), corner (7-route), post (8-route), and fades (9-route)…In redzone opportunities, Kromer loves to throw the fade and fly-routes so look for him to test Culliver early, as his No. 1 go-to-guy in redzone opportunities is Marshall.”
And that’s exactly what happened only it was against rookie first-round pick (No. 30) DB Jimmie Ward.
With the 49ers taking a 17-7 halftime lead, they would strike first in the second-half as they marched down the field while again getting inside the redzone. And while they weren’t able to punch it in for a touchdown on three consecutive runs, they did however cap off the drive with a 24-yard field-goal by K Phil Dawson.
With the offense putting up points, it was the defense that set the tone as they held the Bears potent offense to just 93 net yards in the first-half. Whether forcing three-and-outs or stalling them on third-downs (25%), the 49ers defense was quite stingy. The second-half however was a different story.
The lack of 49ers pass-rush led to the Bears striking again in the redzone with who else? Marshall! The play was a simple fade-post up route as Marshall boxed out 49ers ILB Patrick Willis for a five-yard touchdown. With the score 20-14, the 49ers would find themselves in a one score game and would shoot themselves in the foot as Kaepernick threw an interception to rookie first-round pick CB Kyle Fuller. From there it was smooth sailing as the Bears would score on the very next play as TE Martellus Bennett out jumped FS Eric Reid on a 3-yard fade route (9).
The bleeding stopped there right? Wrong! Marshall would strike again in the redzone as he beat Ward for a 3-yard touchdown. If you’re doing the math that’s 21 unanswered points! To be honest, that momentarily quieted the Forever Faithful as they were stunned by the Bears scoring so many points in such a short period of time. Heck, even I was stunned by the poor performance.
The Bears would go on and hold onto a 28-20 lead and eventually win the game as Kaepernick’s pass to Crabtree in the endzone fell incomplete.