NFC West: 2012 Week 11 Rapid Reaction
November, 19, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on Monday night:
What it means: The 49ers can feel better about their future at quarterback after watching Colin Kaepernick dominate the Bears with his arm and even with presnap reads. How long before the future arrives? That is the question. Kaepernick was so good in just about every conceivable area. The 49ers drafted him in 2011 to be their eventual starter, trading up in the second round to get him. Alex Smith has performed capably in the meantime. I'm not sure he has ever looked as good as Kaepernick looked in this game, however.
The 49ers improved to 7-2-1 to expand their NFC West lead over second-place Seattle (6-4).
What I liked: The 49ers came out throwing when the Bears expected them to run the ball. I like the strategy in retrospect, hindsight being 20/20. The 49ers obviously felt Kaepernick could handle the aggressive strategy. His offensive line gave him ample time. Kaepernick appeared comfortable. He made challenging throws with authority and accuracy. Tight end Vernon Davis reemerged as a result.
Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and a 133.1 NFL passer rating.
The 20-0 lead Kaepernick built allowed the 49ers' defense to unleash its fury against the Bears' overmatched offensive line. Aldon Smith collected 5.5 sacks. He might have been most impressive when teammate Justin Smith beat him to the quarterback in the fourth quarter. Aldon Smith bull-rushed tackle Gabe Carimi and sent him hurtling onto his back. Justin Smith collapsed running plays and collected his first half-sack of the season. Patrick Willis knocked away passes and punished with his tackles, overpowering blockers when he did not elude them. Tarell Brown and Dashon Goldson picked off passes.
The Bears had 35 yards of offense in the first half. The 49ers held a 236-20 lead in yardage at one point.
San Francisco avoided turnovers against a defense known for forcing them. The Bears came into this game with an NFL-high 19 interceptions. Charles Tillman had forced seven fumbles. The 49ers protected the football in part because they protected Kaepernick so well. Kaepernick had fumbled twice against St. Louis last week. He was well protected in this game. Left tackle Joe Staley appeared to do a terrific job against Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.
What I didn't like: The 49ers had trouble converting third-and-short situations. They threw incomplete on third-and-1 early in the game. They threw incomplete on a third-and-2, then gained only a yard on a third-and-2 completion to Michael Crabtree.
Those eager to see the 49ers activate running back Brandon Jacobs can cite those stats. Jacobs converted eight first downs on 11 rushes in third-and-2 or shorter while with the New York Giants over the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
From a coaching standpoint, the 49ers punted or attempted field goals on multiple fourth-and-1 situations. The percentages often favor going for first downs on those plays.
That's all I've got.
What's next: The 49ers visit the New Orleans Saints in Week 12 for a rematch of their NFC divisional-round playoff game from last season.