San Francisco 49ers

49ers film review: Seeing yellow; Lemonier’s disappearing act; rough night for rookies

SANTA CLARA -- There are many, many observations and notes after re-watching last night's 28-20 win by Chicago, the first by the Bears on the road against San Francisco since Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon and William “Refrigerator Perry” were in Bears uniforms together.

But first a subtle editorial: Twenty six total penalties! Are you freakin' kidding me?! The only person who wants to see Carl Cheffers that much is Carl's mom, and even she was sick of him by game's end. And the 26 doesn't include those that were picked up, declined, canceled by other penalties or wiped away on review. There were three separate fouls on a single Bears punt in the second quarter.

The 49ers had 16 , their most since Jan. 3, 2000 when they also had 16 penalties and six shy of their record, 22, which came Oct. 4, 1988 against Buffalo.

Obviously, some of the fouls – a false start or a delay of game – must be called. But Cheffers' crew seemed eager to throw flags, including on Frank Gore's long touchdown run, on which there was a phantom holding penalty on Anquan Boldin, and on Colin Kaepernick's “inappropriate language” call, on which Kaepernick insists he kept his mouth closed. (More on that later).

I watched last night's game because it's my job. Any other game that is constantly and unnecessarily halted like that and I start flipping channels. What's that you say? There's a Golden Girls marathon on Lifetime? Perfect.


The 49ers' fourth-quarter meltdown obscured an excellent game by the defense, especially in the first half. The Bears' bread and butter has been their running game with Matt Forte and their screen game with Forte. Both were squashed early. Forte had eight yards on eight carries at halftime and one reception for zero yards.

There were a number of standouts, particularly Justin Smith, Antoine Bethea, Michael Wilhoite and Patrick Willis, who led all tacklers with eight stops. But unlike last week against Dallas, the 49ers didn't have any takeaways and lost that battle 4-0. That, more than anything else, explains the loss.

The 49ers also had just one sack. The last time they played the Bears, Aldon Smith set a franchise record with 5 ½. What's more, the Bears offensive line was pockmarked with injuries and there were two new starters protecting Jay Cutler. For the second straight game, Smith's main pass-rush replacement, Corey Lemonier, wasn't even credited with a quarterback hit or a quarterback hurry.

Lemonier also was called for perhaps the mostly costly penalty of the game, an illegal-use-of-the-hands call at the end of the third quarter. It came on third down when the 49ers seemingly had forced a three and out. Instead, the Bears got a first down and they went on to string together a 13-play drive that ended with one of Brandon Marshall's three touchdowns.


Last week, everyone was celebrating the 49ers' rookie class. This week? The youngsters learned a lesson. Every one save, perhaps, Aaron Lynch had an outing they'd like to forget. That includes slot cornerback Jimmie Ward, who was in coverage for all of Marshall's touchdowns. Ward certainly was in his man's hip pocket on each of those plays. But the 5-11 Ward was no match in close quarters for the 6-5 Marshall, and Cutler and the Bears took advantage.

Even Lynch, who blocked a punt early on, had a stand-out bad play when, following a botched snap by Chicago, he tried to pick up the loose ball and run it into the end zone. He muffed the attempt and should have fallen on the ball.


Kyle Nelson's tackle on punt return was wiped away by a flag. But it should be noted that he somehow raced down-field nearly as fast as the gunners despite initially snapping the ball. That's impressive and starts to explain why he won the long-snapping job over Kevin McDermott this year. That is, Nelson has excellent athleticism and can play tight end in a pinch, something his predecessors, McDermott and Brian Jennings, could not do.


Yes, Jonathan Martin gave up two sacks at the end of the game, but his night – while bad – wasn't quite as bad as it seemed at first blush. Mike Iupati also gave up a sack while Joe Staley had two penalties, including a false start, and has three on the season. That is, it was a bad all-around pass-protection effort for the vaunted offensive line, especially at the end of the game.

No. 3 wide receiver Stevie Johnson was in on 32 snaps (48 percent of the total offensive plays last night) for the 49ers. By contrast, FB Bruce Miller was in for 24 snaps (36 percent). Brandon Lloyd, who shared No. 3 duties with Johnson in Week 1, was inactive.

Tank Carradine's NFL debut? The former second-round pick was in for five plays, four on special teams. Counterpart Quinton Dial played four plays, one of which resulted in him spearing Cutler in the sternum. Again, not a great outing for the youngsters.


Kaepernick told reporters at the end of the game that he didn't say anything after the first interception by Kyle Fuller even though he was flagged for an “inappropriate language” penalty. But he definitely says something after intentionally bumping Lamarr Houston after the play. Can you read his lips? Tough because he has his mouthpiece in ...

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