SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Bears found yet another way to win Sunday, getting a couple big breaks on offense and making the most of them with two long touchdown drives.
Combined with a typically stingy defense that kept the 49ers out of the end zone, it was enough for a 14-9 victory that wasn’t a masterpiece but lifted the Bears to 11-4 and kept alive their chances to move up one spot from their current No. 3 playoff seed into a first-round bye. The 49ers dropped to 4-11 and finished the season 4-4 at home.
Late in the second-quarter, Trubisky’s ill-advised heave into the end zone after a lengthy scramble looked like an end zone interception by K’Waun Williams until it was negated by a defensive holding on LB Fred Warner. That was big break No. 1, and it was maybe the most significant because it involved Trubisky’s maturation. Three plays later he threw a four-yard TD pass to rookie WR Anthony Miller for a 7-6 lead, capping a 75-yard drive.
Coach Matt Nagy has talked all season long about Trubisky developing a next-play mentality, not allowing one bad play to influence the next play, and that was a perfect example.
“That’s great growth,” Nagy said. “That’s a good job by bringing that point up, the fact that he’s doing that. It’s neat to see him be able to go from a play where that happens, where there is an interception or a fumble, or there’s a poor read that no one sees, but then he comes back and throws a strike.
“That’s a part of who he’s going to be. That’s a part of who he’s going to be in this offense. He’s just going to continue to use that and, in the end, hopefully years down the road, it just lessens in regard to the negative stuff.”
Despite repeated scoring opportunities, the 49ers were forced to settle for three Robbie Gould chip-shot field goals (33, 30, 23 yards) in the second quarter. That was enough to fashion a 9-7 halftime lead.
But the Bears caught another couple breaks on their first possession of the second half.
On their first play, it was ruled on the field that WR Allen Robinson had fumbled at the 19-yard line, but an official review determined his knee had touched the ground before he lost the ball. On the next play, a run by Jordan Howard lost four yards but became a 15-yard gain when DL DeForest Buckner was flagged for a facemask on Howard.
The Bears then reeled off 11 more plays, with a two-yard TD run by Howard capping a 90-yard drive that provided the final points of the game with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Trubisky completed all six of his passes on that drive, none of them longer than 10 yards, and he finished 25-for-29 (86.2 percent) for 246 yards with no interceptions.
“It was just finding a rhythm in the offense, taking what the defense was giving us,” Trubisky said. “It came down to we had to dink and dunk a little bit to move the ball down the field. They wanted to take away the deep ball and the explosive plays, and they did a good job of that.”
But the Bears did a better job of finding a way to win against an opponent that had an inferior record but had won two straight and played well at home all season. It wasn’t a work of art, but no one was complaining after the music died down from another Club Dub celebration dance party.
“Hey, we got a dub (W), that’s all that matters,” WR Josh Bellamy said. “I don’t care if it’s by one point or a half a point.”
And the Bears found yet another formula for victory, something they’ve done frequently while winning eight of nine.
“It’s been a bunch of different ways this year with how we’ve done it.” Nagy said. “Whether we’ve had a nice, little lead and teams have come back. Whether we’ve been down, and we’ve had to come back.
“I only think that’s going to help us when we get to the playoffs, being in a bunch of different situations. You use those. That’s what I love about sports and life and where we’re at right now as a team.”
Where the Bears are at, for now, remains as the No. 3 seed. The 13-2 Saints clinched the NFC’s top seed with their victory over the Steelers, but the Bears could still finish second if they defeat the Vikings in Minnesota next week and the 12-3 Rams lose at home to the 49ers.