CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- For the third straight season, the Bears are riding a three-game losing streak – and it’s unclear when this one will end.
The Bears lost 33-22 to the 49ers on Sunday, allowing 24 points in a second-half collapse as they fell to 3-5. Here are the observations from Soldier Field.
Finally, an offense for Fields
That's how it was supposed to look for rookie quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears.
While Sunday didn't bring the huge offensive breakthrough that Fields had envisioned, what he and the Bears showcased in terms of scheme and production was a significant step forward.
Fields went 19-of-27 for 175 yards, one touchdown and an interception that came on a late-game heave. He also added 10 rushes for 103 yards and a touchdown, the third-most rushing yards by a Bears quarterback in a single game in franchise history. Bobby Douglass holds the two leading marks with big performances in 1972, but Fields could break his record of 127 rushing yards in a game if the Bears stay committed to this type of offense.
The Bears set up Fields with more run-pass options Sunday, showing a greater trust in his ability to read a defense and make the proper decision with the football. They also seemed to understand their sputtering offense needed the boost of Fields’ top-flight speed more often instead of just having him stand in the pocket behind a scuffling offensive line.
The Bears moved the pocket for Fields with more designed rollouts, and he finished 4-of-4 for 40 yards and a touchdown on those throws. He also scrambled more when given designed clearance from the pocket, picking up 89 of 103 rushing yards on those plays, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Of course, the highlight-reel moment for Fields came on his wild scramble on fourth-and-1 that went for a sensational 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The play was a designed rollout to the right with running back Khalil Herbert as his primary read in the flat. That wasn’t there, and Fields looked forward to find heavy pursuit from 49ers pass rushers.
"I just saw the lanes open up, and I ran it into the end zone,” Fields said. “I can’t describe it, it was just on instinct. Great play by everybody.
“I’m not going to lie. That was awesome.”
On the second play from scrimmage Sunday, Bears safety Eddie Jackson grabbed at his right hamstring while in pursuit of a passing play downfield. He limped off and didn't return. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan took advantage of that development.
Shanahan and the 49ers exploited Jackson's absence by consistently designing passing plays that found space between the second and third levels of the Bears' defense. Chicago's secondary was often playing too deep in coverage.
49ers quarterback jimmy Garoppolo only attempted one pass beyond 20 yards of the line of scrimmage after Jackson left. That was a 50-yard completion to receiver Deebo Samuel late in the first half. Garoppolo went 17-of-28 for 322 passing yards.
While Jackson has received plenty of criticism for his play this season, it’s clear his presence in coverage is something the Bears will miss. The 49ers' scheme proved that.
The Bears were credited with zero quarterback hurries Sunday.
Garoppolo thrived in a clean pocket, having all the time he needed to make the right throws. The Bears were clearly missing star pass rusher Khalil Mack, and veteran Robert Quinn couldn’t get home without his complement on the other end.
It’s unclear how long Mack will miss while mending his foot injury, but the Bears need to find ways to pressure the quarterback without him.
-- On their opening drive, the Bears had first-and-10 from the 49ers’ 23-yard line. Then came a costly holding penalty by right guard James Daniels. Three plays later, left guard Cody Whitehair was called for an illegal block penalty. The Bears set themselves back and had to settle for a field goal.
-- Late in the first half, Bears acting head coach Chris Tabor sought a two-for-one opportunity with his team holding the ball near the end of the second quarter and being set to receive the kickoff to open the third quarter. Instead, the Bears' 16-play, 57-yard drive stalled in the red zone as they settled for a field goal. The 49ers matched it with a field goal of their own late in the quarter on a 71-yard drive that took just 1:16, and the Bears squandered yet another opportunity.
-- Early in the third quarter, the Bears drove 13 plays and 62 yards over 6:27 but settled for a field goal. Are you sensing a theme here?
-- When Fields made a touchdown throw across his body to tight end Jesse James in the second quarter, Bears coach Nagy -- who was in COVID-19 isolation -- was like so many fans watching from home.
"Special," Nagy said of the throw. "You love seeing it. I was definitely a fan seeing that play happen, and it got pretty loud."
-- If you watch one play from this entire Bears season, make it Fields’ 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
-- With the Bears fighting to stay in the game late, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks – who has been dealing with a groin injury for several weeks – ran some 25 yards downfield to make a tackle.
-- Did the Chicago Park District just entirely stop caring about the playing surface at Soldier Field?
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.