LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A black briefcase lying in front of him at the podium, Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long took a businesslike approach Monday in assessing the team's dismal performance in the run game during the club's triumph over the San Francisco 49ers.

"I was embarrassed," Long said.

Bears coach Marc Trestman worded his thoughts a tad more delicately, but the fact remains the offense -- after averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt in the season opener -- took a major step backward running the ball against the 49ers.

Obviously several factors played into the performance, most significantly, a 17-point deficit in the second quarter, which put the team into passing mode. Still, when Chicago ran against the 49ers, it averaged just 2.7 yards per attempt, with Matt Forte finishing with 21 yards on 12 attempts.

Jay Cutler led the way with 25 yards rushing, with all of that coming on one scramble.

"Very poor in our run game performance," Trestman said. "We're gonna throw that away, and try to work off where we got started in the Buffalo game, and try to continue progress and get better there. [San Francisco is a] very difficult defense to run against. But nonetheless, the tape has certainly shown us we have some work to do. It got our guys' attention, which is a good thing."

The club's rushing aspirations become more difficult Monday night on the road when the Bears face the New York Jets, which boast the league's to run defense. Jets opponents averaged 2.8 yards per attempt and 52.5 yards per game on the ground. New York's defense is one of just seven units in the NFL which still hasn't given up a rushing touchdown.

The longest run surrendered by the Jets this season was 12 yards.

"We need to run the ball," Long said. "I know we got the win on the road, and it was big. I'm sure everybody else in our room will echo that. So will Matt. You need to run the ball in the National Football League, and we'll be better at that."

Chicago certainly needs to be Monday night to prevent New York from making it one dimensional, which in turn would allow the Jets to pin back their ears and come after quarterback Jay Cutler. If the Bears can string together success on the ground against the Jets, the playbook opens up and allows them to attack with all the weapons at their disposal as opposed to relying solely on Jay Cutler and the receivers to make the offense go.

Long attributed the offense's problems running the ball to simply "techniques, different looks." But ultimately, Long said there's no excuse for Chicago's inability to run the ball effectively.

"You run the ball. You grab the guy in front of him. You move him, and the running back has an opening," Long said. "It's hard to break that down any simpler than that. [The Jets] pose another challenge for us. When you can break through walls like those, you become stronger as a unit. I feel like it's an opportunity for us. It's a mountain. We've got to climb it, and we've got to put our flag in the top of it. We're gonna figure out a way to run the ball against the Jets."

Balancing out the run-pass ration might help (83 passes to 35 runs so far this season), as well as bringing back fullback Tony Fiammetta. Fiammetta missed the opener due to a hamstring injury. Then the team -- reeling from injuries along the offensive line and receiver -- cut the fullback last week as it adjusted the roster to compensate. The Bears brought Fiammetta back on Monday, and Trestman is hopeful he can help spark the rushing attack as Forte's lead blocker.

"He certainly could [help]," Trestman said. "Tony Fiammetta is an excellent player, and we haven't had a chance to utilize him because of the hamstring injury. Very, very good as a lead back. I know Matt likes running with Tony leading the way."
The Chicago Bears took a huge fall last week in's Power Rankings, but made a similar move the other way Tuesday in the latest edition, coming off the club's 28-20 come-from-behind victory at San Francisco.

ESPN's Power Panel, which is comprised of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities, handed down the most dramatic drop last week in the Power Rankings to the Bears. But this time around, the group gave the Bears some love, ranking them at No. 11. Yet they still rank just second in the division behind the Green Bay Packers (No. 8).

The Detroit Lions checked in at No. 18, falling five slots from 13th. The Minnesota Vikings rounded out the division No. 26 after a 17th ranking last week.

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall felt pundits panicked after the club's season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills in which the club allowed 193 yards rushing.

"It felt like 60 percent of Chicago, of Illinois, started panicking," he said Monday during "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN 1000. "It felt that [the feeling was], 'Our season's over.'"

In the loss to the Bills, the Bears reeled off 427 yards of offense, but committed a trio of turnovers which led to points by the opponent.

Chicago appeared to be headed down a similar road against the 49ers, as it trailed 17-0 late in the first half. The truth is the score should've been even more lopsided. Still, the Bears rallied to score 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter.

Marshall led the charge with a trio of scoring receptions, and Bears coach Marc Trestman considered the win against the 49ers one his team can build on moving forward through the schedule. At 1-1, the Bears play two of their next three on the road, with a home matchup sandwiched in between against the Packers.

"As I told the team, as you go through this marathon of a football season, you're going to have opportunities to gain some backbone," Trestman said. "I think this really helped us and will help us [moving forward]. The bottom line is we'll go back to work. That was the message in the locker room is the reason we're able to get to this point is we went back to work last week [after the loss], focused on each and every day in practice. We're going to do the same thing. We're going to get some rest. We've got an extra day of rest this week with the Monday night game [against the New York Jets], and we're going to go back to work and try to get better as a football team, one day at a time."

Stock Watch: Bears' defense answers call

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
BearsAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Bears' defense had plenty of highlights on Sunday, including two interceptions by rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller.


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1. Entire defense: There is a noticeable improvement on defense. From top to bottom, the whole group needs credit for keeping the Bears in the game against the San Francisco 49ers, despite suffering a ton of injuries to key starters. Defensive end Willie Young is a gem. He filled out the stat sheet for the second consecutive week with four tackles, two sacks, two tackles-for-loss and two quarterback hits, according to the NFL's official game book. Jared Allen made a couple of impact plays with a tackle-for-loss and forced fumble. Lance Briggs had a bounce-back game. Rookie Kyle Fuller intercepted two fourth-quarter passes in place of injured Charles Tillman (triceps), and safety Chris Conte had a highlight-reel pick before he left early due to a bad shoulder. Safety Ryan Mundy, linebacker Shea McClellin and the first-year interior defensive linemen (Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson) all contributed to the victory. If the Bears can get efforts like this from the defense every week, the team will be in position to win lots of games.

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2. Jay Cutler, QB: Cutler and the offense got off to a bad start, but the quarterback recovered to finish 23-of-34 for 176 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, with a passer rating of 119.2. Cutler beat a good team on the road. That deserves a mention. He stayed in the game after taking an illegal hit to the chest late in the first half. That shot must have triggered something inside Cutler because he played at a different level from that moment on. Cutler no doubt benefitted from the sturdy play of the offensive line (minus starters Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson), but it's hard to throw four touchdowns when the team is struggling to establish the ground game. However, Cutler pulled it off. Even some of the dropped balls were delivered on the money.

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3. Brandon Marshall, WR: Not a bad performance for a guy with a bum ankle. Marshall played like a man possessed in Week 2, catching three touchdowns, including a miraculous one-handed grab at the end of the first half that proved to be a turning point for the Bears. Marshall vowed all week he planned to play against the 49ers, and he backed it up with a performance that will have Bears' fans buzzing all week. Credit wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for fighting through a tight hamstring to contribute three receptions for 47 yards. The Bears were never going to defeat San Francisco with their two Pro Bowl receivers on the sidelines. Both were active, and the Bears pulled out the 28-20 upset. Coincidence? Hardly. Great players who push themselves often inspire their teammates. The extra day should help Marshall and Jeffery get ready to face the New York Jets on Monday.


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1. Special teams: Unfair to criticize one person for the mess on special teams, this is a collective issue. But no matter where the fault ultimately lies, the Bears need to clean up the special teams mistakes because it's borderline unwatchable. The Bears committed a ton of penalties (three on one specific play) and had the opening punt blocked. These breakdowns are unacceptable. Rookie punter Pat O'Donnell struck the ball with authority against the 49ers, despite his 32.3 net average. After O'Donnell, there wasn't much to like. And the Bears still cannot figure out the return game. Senorise Perry looks to be very average on kickoff return after two weeks.

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2. Run game: It was an off-night for the run game. The team basically went away from the ground attack after the 49ers jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but yards were hard to come by whenever the Bears put the ball in Matt Forte's hands. Forte carried the ball 12 times for 21 yards (1.8 yards per rush average). Cutler actually had the best run of the night when he scrambled for 25 yards. It's hard to establish much of a rhythm when the starting tailback is fed the ball only 12 times, but the offense failed to capitalize when the opportunities presented themselves on the ground, no matter how few and far between they were.

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3. Officials: Twenty-seven combined penalties? Kind of excessive, no? Not to mention the crew took forever to make certain calls and explain the rulings. The game dragged. It was really tough to watch in the first half, for both sides. I'm a firm believer in the fact that officials do not determine the outcome of games. Calls will be missed. That's life. Deal with it. But officials can impact the enjoyment level of watching games. Thumbs down to the officials. Second week in the row the crew assigned to the Bears didn't appear to have their act together. These penalty fests are hurting the league.
Charles Tillman said “this isn’t the end of the road for me” in a statement released by the team on Monday after it announced he’d go on the season-ending injured reserve due to a ruptured triceps. The first thought to come to mind was it may not be the end, but in Chicago it’s essentially over.

That’s not the way to think regarding a player of Tillman’s ilk. But reality is reality.

Tim Jennings signed a four-year extension back in January worth $22.4 million, and rookie Kyle Fuller received a four-year deal with a club option for a fifth year which pays $9.687 million, including a signing bonus of $5.365 million.

Tillman, meanwhile, was playing on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million, and he signed that late after free agency proved fruitless.

Moving forward, the Bears can't afford to pay starter's money to three corners, especially with Jay Cutler's monstrous salary and potential extensions coming down the pipe for several players such as Brian de la Puente and Alshon Jeffery, just to name a couple.

Tillman certainly deserves to finish his career in Chicago. But with the corner set to turn 34 before the start of the 2015 season, it’s unlikely the Bears bring him back at a salary he wouldn’t find to be a slap in the face.

When Tillman hits free agency, he likely won’t be looking to break the bank. But he’ll definitely feel he’s worth more than a veteran minimum type of deal, which is probably what the Bears will offer given Tillman’s age, recent injury history, and the emergence of Fuller, who picked off a pair of passes Sunday in the club’s win at San Francisco. Besides that, if the Bears did decide to bring back Tillman for another season, would it be as a starter? Would he feel comfortable taking on the role as the nickel corner?

It’s sad to be pondering all this with emotions still raw, fewer than 24 hours after Tillman’s latest setback.

But that’s the reality we’re faced with; one in which special players such as Tillman always leave on someone else’s terms.

“He’s one of our leaders on this team, and much needed,” receiver Brandon Marshall said during his radio show Monday on ESPN Chicago 1000. “It’s sad for the city, it’s sad for our team, it’s sad for him.”

It truly is.

Tillman was correct in saying it’s not the end of the road, because it isn’t. Once Tillman rehabs from this injury, he’ll still be a player capable of starting and playing at a high level in the NFL.

But the problem is this team, even before Tillman’s injury, has already moved on. If Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester have taught us anything, it’s the fact the Bears -- like every other team in the NFL -- always moves on.
The Chicago Bears signed fullback Tony Fiammetta to the 53-man roster, while also adding rookie quarterback David Fales to the practice squad.

The Bears brought back Fiammetta and Fales after cutting the duo last week in a series of roster moves brought about due to a rash of injuries along the offensive line and at receiver. Fiammetta had been nursing a hamstring injury headed into Week 2, while Fales had missed practice time because of a shoulder injury.

A six-year veteran, Fiammetta serves primarily as a lead blocker for Matt Forte, and has run the ball 11 times for 26 yards throughout his career, while also producing 130 yards on 12 catches in 50 games with 24 starts.

Fales, meanwhile, joined the Bears as a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State.

Over two seasons at San Jose State, Fales started in 25 games, throwing for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. Fales has impressed the staff enough throughout his brief tenure with the Bears, that he would likely develop into a potential backup to starter Jay Cutler.

With the Bears placing cornerback Charles Tillman on the injured reserve, it's expected the club in the coming days will make more roster moves.

Tillman's Peanut Punch for the ages

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15

When Chicago Bears cornerback and civic hero Charles "Peanut" Tillman left Sunday night's game with what would later be determined as a ruptured right triceps muscle, teammates approached him in appreciation and homage.

A screenshot showed him apparently tearing up; it went viral. Bears fans love Tillman, and he would later go on Twitter and thank the fans for their virtual well-wishes. A Peanut without his shell.

As the game went on, I took some binoculars and watched Tillman move around the sidelines by himself. Sitting down, standing up, walking around. Nervous energy with no outlet. He was no longer vital to the team. He was injured and therefore a bystander. The game continues.

While Tillman faded into the sideline, rookie Kyle Fuller, drafted to be his replacement as the playmaking franchise corner, picked off two fourth-quarter passes in San Francisco 49ers territory that turned into touchdowns as the Bears shocked the NFL, and certainly Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, with a 28-20 comeback victory.

It was Fuller's moment, and not a small amount of people made "passing the torch" comments in the press box.

After the game, Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler raved about Fuller. He is the future.

"I told him that he needs to have Hall of Fame on his mind," Marshall said. "There is no fear. He has a great skill set. But his attitude is amazing. You'd think he's been in the league for five or six years."

(Read full post)

Marshall happy to ease Bears fans' panic

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
Brandon Marshall could feel the sense of panic in Chicago Bears fans after their team was upset at home in Week 1 by the Buffalo Bills and faced the challenge on Sunday night of winning on the road against the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since 1985.

"It felt like 60 percent of Chicago, of Illinois, started panicking," Marshall said Monday on "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "It felt like that. 'Our season's over.' "

They were panicking because the favored Bears, despite racking up 427 yards of offense, dropped their opener to a Bills team that has struggled on the road. They turned the ball over three times, including a fumble by Marshall, and the defense allowed 193 yards rushing by Buffalo, a season removed from finishing last in the NFL against the run.

And when the Bears trailed the 49ers 17-0 late in the first half on Sunday night, that panic meter likely cranked up even more. But Marshall, playing on a bad ankle, went a long way in easing that anxiety by catching three touchdowns during a Bears comeback that saw them outscore the 49ers 28-3 over the final 30:13 on Monday night.

"If we can continue to get wins like the one [Sunday night], halfway through the season I think that's when we're really going to hit our mark, because right now we're not where we should be but we have the attitude and the work ethic to get there," Marshall said.

With an 0-2 hole -- and the long odds of making the playoffs that go along with that start -- averted, the Bears are just like each of the other three teams in the NFC North -- tied at 1-1. How good can the Bears be this season? Marshall believes a comeback road win like Sunday's will help them later on in the season.

"I think we can be really good. I think our play shows that, I think our roster shows that, but we've got to put in the work," Marshall said. "A lot of guys are champions on paper, but you've got to build that chemistry, you've got to continue to bond, continue to get better every week. That's the good thing about games like that [Sunday night] where it's tough, but what happens is those games build character, it builds a stronger backbone. That's a better win for us than going in there and blowing out the 49ers.

"For us to come back in that type of environment builds a strong backbone, something that you need to be successful in this game."

The Film Don't Lie: Bears

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
A weekly look at what the Chicago Bears must fix:

The run-pass ratio remains lopsided for Chicago (35 runs to 83 passes), and although the club faces the league’s top run defense next Monday night in the New York Jets, the Bears need to achieve some balance in that area.

Consider the Bears' run-pass ratio in their 28-20 win over the 49ers in the context that the Bears played catch-up most of the night. But Chicago needs to run the ball into the teeth of New York’s run-stuffing unit to keep it from dictating the flow. If the Jets can make the Bears one-dimensional, they can pin back their ears and come after Jay Cutler.

Matt Forte averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the Bears' opening game against Buffalo. Make him more of a focal part of the offense to get him into the flow of the game while opening up play-action and bootlegs for Cutler to make things happen on the move.

Charles Tillman's season over

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has been placed on season-ending injured reserve with a ruptured triceps muscle.

He suffered the injury during the third quarter of the Bears' 28-20 victory against San Francisco on Sunday night.

"I know this feeling way too well, but this isn't the end of the road for me," said Tillman, who suffered a torn triceps in the same arm in November. "As I rehab my injury, my role will transition to helping coach and support my teammates. I will be at Halas Hall and do everything I can to help our team reach its goals."

"That's really sad to hear," receiver Brandon Marshall said Monday on The Brandon Marshall Show on ESPN Chicago 1000. "He's one of our leaders on this team and much needed. It's sad for the city, it's sad for our team, it's sad for him.

"It's just bad news because he's just one of those players who brings something to the game that most people can't."

ESPN's Adam Caplan reported earlier that Tillman was headed for the season-ending IR.

Tillman signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal in March -- of which $750,000 was fully guaranteed.

He took to Twitter on Monday to thank fans for all of the support.

(Read full post)

Five things we learned vs. 49ers

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears' 28-20 victory against the San Francisco 49ers:

1. NFL is a wild league: Never envisioned the Bears defeating the 49ers in brand new Levi’s Stadium. Especially not after the Bears lost at home in Week 1 to the Buffalo Bills, while San Francisco went on the road and dismantled Dallas. But the NFL is fluid. Calling it a week-to-week league isn’t simply a cliché. It’s the truth. You just never really know what is going to happen on any given Sunday. That is what makes it fun. Would I pick the 49ers again if the two teams re-match in the playoffs? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. But even though I still firmly believe San Francisco is the more talented team, the Bears won on Sunday night. The NFL is unpredictable. Embrace it. I mean, the Bills are 2-0. What is this football world coming to?

[+] EnlargeJon Bostic
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezJon Bostic and the defense kept the Bears in the game until the offense found a spark.
2. Proud effort on defense: It took the offense until the end of the first half to have a pulse, but the defense came to play from the opening whistle. The 49ers seemed poised to blow the game wide open, but the defense held San Francisco to only 17 first-half points. That is a major accomplishment when you consider the offense and special teams put the defense in bad spots with penalties and poor play. Mel Tucker’s defense produced four turnovers, limited the 49ers to 129 yards rushing, and sacked Colin Kaepernick four times. Not even key injuries to Charles Tillman (triceps), Chris Conte (shoulder) and Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion) slowed the group down.

3. Kyle Fuller belongs: Fuller is fast approaching Kyle Long status: a first-round draft choice talented and smart enough to make an immediate impact. Fuller looks to be a keeper. His two fourth-quarter interceptions were critical plays. If Fuller fails to get a turnover on either occasion, who knows if the outcome of the game would have changed. It is entirely possible the Bears lose without Fuller’s heroics. The plan always called for Fuller to contribute as a rookie. But Tillman’s injury opens the door for Fuller to get a jump on permanently lining up at cornerback in the base defense, not just in the nickel sub-package. Fuller seems to have adapted to life in the NFL. Not every game will be great. A cornerback will have his share of bad moments versus the plethora of great receivers in the league. But Fuller appears to be confident and mature enough to handle it.

4. Credit to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery: The Pro Bowl wide receiver tandem played at less than full-strength in Week 2. But Marshall (ankle) and Jeffery (hamstring) pushed past their respective injuries. Marshall, in particular, had a memorable performance with three touchdown catches, including a spectacular one-handed grab on a 17 yard score in the closing seconds of the first half. Jeffery managed to haul in just three passes for 47 yards, but his mere on-field presence aided the Bears’ offense. The extra day before the Week 3 Monday night game against the New York Jets should help the wideouts further heal.

5. What’s worse, special teams or officiating? Pat O'Donnell's 47.6 yard per punt average (32.3 net) saved the Bears from complete embarrassment on special teams. But that phase of the team needs to get its act together. Penalties, blocked punts, lackluster returns ... we’ve seen it all in 2014. Another team that has been suspect is the officiating. The game took forever on Sunday, partly because the officials tossed 26 flags that were accepted. Many more were declined or waived off. Too many. The flow of the game is being stunted by all the yellow flags. I’ve also noticed it is taking certain crews much longer to come to a consensus on calls or explain why a decision is made. Come on everybody, the preseason is over. Act like it.

Seeking identity, Bears' defense finds 'edge'

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Going into the season, the consensus was that the Chicago Bears would have a prolific offense and a first-rate pass rush.

After an opening-week loss to the Buffalo Bills, those beliefs were tested.

The offense was just OK and the defense gave up nearly 200 rushing yards last week. Big free-agent signing Jared Allen could have been off roping cattle somewhere, because you could barely tell he was on the field. The pass rush was minimal.

[+] EnlargeBears' defense
Lance Iversen/USA TODAY Sports"Sometimes adversity can set you on the right path," defensive end Jared Allen said Sunday after the Bears' D turned things around following a poor effort last week. 
But led by Allen and the defensive line, the Bears’ defense rebounded in a big way in Chicago’s 28-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

The defense was challenged by a creative 49ers offense, but ultimately it made more than enough big plays to influence the outcome.

“None of us have the history of being pushovers or push arounds,” said defensive end Willie Young, who had two sacks Sunday. “We’re going to ball until we fall.”

Chris Conte made a diving interception, rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller picked off passes on consecutive possessions that led to Bears touchdowns in the second half and Chicago sacked Colin Kaepernick four times. Allen forced a Kaepernick fumble that the Bears recovered.

“We’re trying to find our identity, too, and this is a huge step to it,” Allen said. “Sometimes adversity can set you on the right path. And if we can keep this edge about us, we can play good defense all year.”

While Jay Cutler was the star, completing 13 of 14 passes in the second half, he pointed to the defense for giving them good field position and putting pressure on Kaepernick.

Allen spelled it out.

“We were able to be successful on first and second downs the majority of the game, and we were able to force them to get into some one-dimensional situations so we could dictate the pace,” Allen said. “Even though Kaepernick got out a couple times, we were able to control the rush for the most part, set high walls limiting his scrambling capabilities.”

The Niners gained 129 yards on 27 carries, with Kaepernick getting 66 and Frank Gore 63. The Bears had some questionable tackling in the first half. But considering what happened against Buffalo last week -- with an array of bad reads and bad tackling -- this was a major step in the right direction for a defense that has struggled mightily under Mel Tucker and Marc Trestman.

“I was just happy to see the success we were seeing in practice,” Trestman said. “I said throughout the week, we were seeing it on tape in practice. We’re fitting the run better; we were running to the ball better.”

The Niners had a chance to tie the game on their last possession with a 14-play drive that ended at the Bears’ 17 on a loss of downs.

Young said they had one goal on that drive.

“Let’s hit the ball carrier,” he said. “I don’t care how we would get there, but let’s hit that guy by any means.”

Young is new around here, but he sure sounds like a Bears defensive lineman of old.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Strolling through a dark hallway in the empty visitor's locker room at Levi's Stadium after a 28-20 win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall stopped to lean his rolling bag against the wall.

"I can't tell you everything, man," he said.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall caught three touchdown passes for the second time in his career, including a one-handed grab before halftime that sparked the Bears.
Chicago overcame a dismal opening half in which San Francisco's defensive backs -- armed with the knowledge Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were hobbled all week by injuries -- sat on every route, basically daring the Bears to try to throw it deep. The game plan worked beautifully early on for the 49ers, given Marshall and Jeffery weren't at full speed and never improved. Yet Chicago found a way to overcome it.

The Bears made subtle adjustments in the way quarterback Jay Cutler targeted his outside threats, and the club took advantage of short fields provided by Kyle Fuller's two interceptions. The result was that the receivers were able to outmuscle San Francisco's defensive backs as Marshall caught three touchdown passes in one game for just the second time in his career.

"They were mixing it up," Cutler said. "They were sitting on our stuff -- 8, 10, 12 yards -- they were kind of sitting out there. They were showing shell, matching up underneath. They had a good game plan."

With reports circulating all week of Marshall's right ankle injury and Jeffery's strained left hamstring, not to mention all the drama in pregame warmups regarding whether they'd play, San Francisco's defensive backs knew Chicago's receivers wouldn't just run right by them to haul in deep balls from Cutler. So they sat on routes, ready to jump short throws for potential interceptions.

"They were smart about how they played us," Marshall said. "We knew that if we did end up throwing it deep, it would just be a jump ball."

San Francisco corners Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver limited Marshall and Jeffery to a combined one catch for 4 yards on three targets in the opening quarter. By the end of the first half, the duo had caught a combined three balls on nine total targets for 30 yards and Marshall's first touchdown.

"They did a good job game planning us defensively," Bears coach Marc Trestman admitted.

But Marshall one-handed a 17-yard touchdown pass over rookie free safety Jimmie Ward with just 18 seconds left in the first half. That scoring strike ignited the offense, Trestman said. That drive, which spanned 80 yards, allowed Cutler to work his chemistry in the red zone with Marshall, who in turn was able to outmuscle safety Jimmy Ward.

Niners safety Eric Reid admitted the size of Chicago's receivers gave his team problems, adding that "Cutler made some good throws in the red zone, [and] they made some good catches."

Jeffery's final numbers were modest -- three catches for 47 yards -- but his 29-yard grab over Culliver set up Marshall's final touchdown. Marshall pointed out he finished the game with just 48 yards receiving and that his last two TDs came from 5 and 3 yards out in the fourth quarter. He added that "it's not like me and Alshon got any better" in terms of their physical condition.

Marshall declined to discuss whether Cutler adjusted throws to target his back shoulder, which would allow him to use his physicality. But the receiver admitted San Francisco "knew" he and Jeffery weren't at full speed, "and they were smart to play us like that. You've got to give them credit."

"I was really frustrated," Marshall said. "I tried to stay positive and it worked. We just stayed in it and believed if we could get in the end zone just once, we'd be able to build off that."

That's precisely what transpired Sunday.

Report Card: Bears-49ers

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15

Week 2 Report Card: Bears vs. 49ers


Rushing Offense

The Bears basically abandoned the run when they fell behind by 17 points. Matt Forte gained only 21 yards on 12 rushing attempts (1.8 yards per carry). The lone highlight came when Cutler scrambled 25 yards. The team tallied just 46 total yards on the ground.


Passing Offense

Jay Cutler & Co. hardly moved the ball until Cutler found Brandon Marshall for a 17-yard touchdown late in the first half. Marshall made a remarkable one-handed grab on the play. But Cutler heated up in the final 30 minutes to finish 23-of-34 for 176 yards and four touchdowns (119.2 passer rating). Marshall (three touchdown catches) and Alshon Jeffery gutted out injuries to make serious contributions down the stretch.


Rushing Defense

The 49ers had a few long runs (Frank Gore's 54-yard touchdown run was nullified due to a penalty), but the Bears battled in the trenches. Gore finished with a modest 63 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries. Carlos Hyde failed to gain a single yard on four attempts. Colin Kaepernick also rushed for 66 yards, but, compared to Week 1, the Bears made enormous strides defending the run.


Passing Defense

The Bears intercepted Kaepernick three times. Two picks came courtesy of rookie Kyle Fuller, who stepped in full time at cornerback in the base defense after Charles Tillman suffered a right triceps injury. Before leaving the game with a shoulder injury, safety Chris Conte had a remarkable diving interception. The Bears also sacked Kaepernick four times.


Special Teams

The Bears had a punt blocked and committed a ton of penalties on special teams. It doesn't appear to be an intelligent group at the moment. However, punter Pat O'Donnell had a good night with a 47.6-yard average and a long kick of 52 yards.



The Bears seemed out of sorts in the first half, but give the team credit for not folding. Head coach Marc Trestman and his staff found a way to squeeze out a victory after being upset last week at Soldier Field by the Buffalo Bills. The season is far from over. The players and coaches both deserve praise for finding a way to win on the road. Never an easy accomplishment in the NFL.


Rookie Fuller shines with pair of picks

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Veteran defenders gushed over the performance of rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller; the 2014 first-round draft choice responsible for two fourth-quarter interceptions that helped lead the Chicago Bears to a 28-20 upset over the heavily favored San Francisco 49ers.

[+] EnlargeKyle Fuller
AP Images/Tony AvelarWith two interceptions, rookie Kyle Fuller passed his first test as a pro, says Bears defensive end Jared Allen.
Fuller’s first pick of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick occurred deep in Niners’ territory, setting up a quick Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett three yard touchdown strike that put the Bears in front 21-20.

Fuller’s encore interception killed another potential San Francisco scoring drive when the cornerback stepped in front of 49ers tight end Derek Carrier on a deep throw down the left sideline.

“Those plays were huge, because those were key drives when we were up by eight points [late in the game],” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “If they take the ball down and even settle for field goals, that makes it closer points wise. So for us to get the ball back to the offense and let them go to work and get the job done, so that was huge for the entire team.”

Defensive end Jared Allen added: “I think we all saw what Kyle did with his opportunity. We are going to expect him to play at that level going forward, obviously. But you can really say that his first test was a great one. He passed it.”

Fuller’s opportunity came about when two-time Pro Bowler Charles Tillman suffered a right triceps injury at the 10:26 mark of the third quarterback. Fuller is no stranger to the field. He spent the entire preseason and Week 1 firmly entrenched on the Bears’ nickel defense sub-package, but he played every snap at cornerback after Tillman went out.

“The mentality of the game is you’re one play away,” Fuller said. “If somebody goes down, you have to step it up and do the same things that he does, like make plays.

“I was just using my technique [on the interceptions] and doing my job. I was just in the right place and the right time.”

Fuller opened eyes in training camp. The No. 14 overall pick of the draft routinely held his own when matched up against Pro Bowl wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery during practices.

“Day 1 he came out there and was competing with Jay and Alshon,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You could tell he could play and he was going to be really good in this league.”

Marshall revealed that he spent extra time watching tape on Fuller; in an attempt to gain an edge over the first-year defensive back.

“I remember when I was a rookie with the Broncos; some of the guys told me that [cornerback] Champ Bailey was watching me on film. I had to do the same thing this summer. I had to go in there and study [Fuller’s] moves. I told him that he needs to have Hall of Fame on his mind. There is no fear. He has a great skill set. But his attitude is amazing. You’d think he’s been in the league for five or six years.”