San Francisco 49ers

Halftime: 49ers keeping pace but losing starters

***UPDATE*** Bowman was cleared of a concussion and started the second half in his usual spot on defense.

CHICAGO -- Jimmie Ward got some revenge against the Bears and the 49ers finally converted a third down in a 13-13 first half.

But the 49ers may have to play the second half without their starting inside linebackers. NaVorro Bowman is being checked for a concussion he may have suffered in the second quarter while trying to stop a Bears screen pass. Michael Wilhoite aggravated an ankle injury suffered last week.

The 49ers went into the locker room with Gerald Hodges and Nick Bellore as their inside linebackers.

Tight end Vance McDonald also exited the game with an apparent concussion. That left the 49ers -- who once had a surplus of tight ends -- with just one, rookie Blake Bell. The 49ers have adjusted with more plays for fullback Bruce Miller. Daniel Kilgore lined up as a tight end late in the half, his first snaps of the season. Longsnapper Kyle Nelson also could play tight end in a pinch.

When the teams met last year, the Bears picked on Ward, who was a rookie. Chicago scored three touchdowns, all of them on Jay Cutler passes to receiver Brandon Marshall with Ward in coverage. Marshall is now with the Jets.

On Sunday, Cutler was trying to throw to his new favorite target, receiver Alshon Jeffery, when Ward read the play, stepped in front of the pass and was off for a 29-yard touchdown. He punctuated the score -- it was his first career interception and his first touchdown -- with a flip across the goal line.

The Bears responded with a nine-play drive of their own that ended when running back Matt Forte broke tackles by Bowman and Jaquiski Tartt, then dragged Corey Lemonier into the end zone.

The 49ers offense, meanwhile, went backward on their first two drives. But following the Bears touchdown, they put together a 16-play drive that ended with Shaun Draughn plowing into the end zone from one yard away. It was the team's first rushing touchdown since Carlos Hyde scored in Week 5. Hyde suffered a stress fracture in that game and has missed the 49ers' last five contests.

The scoring drive featured three, third-down conversions by the 49ers. They had gone 0-17 prior to that with their last one coming in the second quarter of a Nov. 22 loss to the Seahawks.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

  Comments