Week 13: 49ers Edge Bears in Garoppolo’s Debut

In his first career start, 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo looked impressive over the Bears

49ers 15 Bears 14

While it was considered a lowly matchup between two lottery-bound teams, Sunday offered a glimmer of hope for the 49ers faithful. 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, a Chicago-native that was recently acquired via trade before the deadline, certainly looked the part of a franchise quarterback in his debut. Garoppolo led the 49ers on a down the field on 14-play, 86 yard drive for the go-ahead field goal.

Revitalized Offense

It couldn’t have gone any better for Garoppolo in his debut against his childhood team. Garoppolo finished 26-for-37 for 293 passing yards and one interception which may not sound overly impressive when you consider the offense settled for five field goals. However, the offense was a mainstay as possessed the ball for 38:47 to kept the defense fresh. The Bears’ offense only registered 36 plays compared to the 49ers’ 76 plays which is just insane — it’s like the defense played half a game.

Garoppolo’s quick release and precision constantly kept drives alive; he was pressured on just nine of his 40 drop backs. Perhaps the most telling stat of all was his ability to make a play on crucial 3rd down situations — he was 10-of-14 for 109 yards and accounted for seven conversions alone. His top wideouts, 49ers’ Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin, had stellar performances catching a perfect 14-of-14 targets for 191 receiving yards.

Red Zone Woes

Considering how dominant the 49ers were in the time of possession and every statistical category, you would figure they would’ve blown out the Bears. Garoppolo had one interception, it wasn’t really his fault — the 49ers’ Louis Murphy caught the ball but had it snatched by Bears’ Kyle Fuller — which led to the Bears’ lone offensive touchdown.

The 49ers were down 9–14 at halftime as penalties (six) in the first half attributed to their red zone woes. There were several penalties and miscues by the receivers in the red zone which was puzzling; Murphy had a key incompletion while Hyde struggled to haul in passes. You could tell that Garoppolo is still trying to familiarize himself with his teammates as the offense really struggled to find a rhythm with a smaller field in such situations. Hopefully that will in improve in time.

Play of The Game

Down 12–14 in the fourth quarter, the 49ers started at their own 8-yard line with 5:27 left to play. On 3rd-and-9 on the their own 49-yard line, Garoppolo essentially won the game with a strike to Taylor on a slant for 33-yards to put them in field goal range. While the offense struggled with penalties and conservative play-calling the previous drives, this was the Garoppolo’s moment to shine. The 49ers would set themselves up for Robbie Gould, the Bears’ former place kicker, to make the game-winner with :04 left. All in all, the offense drove down the field in 14 plays to come away with the win.

Overall Thoughts

This was a game that shouldn’t even have been close when you look at the numbers. Garopplo single-handedly won them this game as he threw his receivers open time-after-time on 3rd down situations. Nonetheless, there’s a new sense of optimism as it looks like the 49ers finally have a quarterback they can build around. Just remember — it’s only one game against an underwhelming Bears team.

Next Game

The San Francisco 49ers play at the Houston Texans.

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