There’s no place like home, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo proved that on Sunday, as he led the 49ers to a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears, as the quarterback returned to his hometown and the place of his first 49ers’ start in 2017.
The win ended a four-game losing streak and quieted at least some of the noise around Garoppolo and his status as QB1.
“The noise, it’s gonna be there, good, bad or indifferent,” Garoppolo said. “It’s just part of the job…This defense was really good…Their offense played really good today, too. That’s a good team. Whenever you have a chance to come into another team’s house and do what we did, that’s always a good thing.”
"It felt different out there today. It really did, and we've just got to keep it going." Jimmy Garoppolo #49ers
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 31, 2021
Garoppolo was 17-of-28 for 322 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
“It’s nice to maybe not have to listen to it as much for a week,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Jimmy does as good as anybody. He’s not a social media guy or watching stuff. He’s been around the league and knows that stuff doesn’t help you. But he gets the questions so you’re aware, and that goes with the territory, for the quarterback, coordinator, head coach.”
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
It is not dramatic to say that the 49ers absolutely needed to win this game, and they were prepared to do whatever it took to do so.
“Huge team win,” Shanahan said. “We kept talking about whatever it took to win is what we had to do. We didn’t care whether it was 2-0 or ended like that. Was just real proud of the guys.”
Enter RB Elijah Mitchell’s five-yard touchdown run, a run in which the 49ers’ offensive line, accompanied by the basically the rest of the offense, pushed him into the end zone.
“That was really cool,” Shanahan said. “You could see on one play what our team is feeling right now. We knew we had to hunker down. We knew we had to battle this week. We knew it would be a fight…And you could just see how important it was to all 11 guys out there. And we needed all 11 to get into the end zone.”
Keep on pushing!
📺 #SFvsCHI on FOX pic.twitter.com/ZA1oYE9oZO
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 31, 2021
Mitchell ended the day with 137 rushing yards on 18 carries for his third 100-yard rushing game out of the five he has played.
The offensive line later gave Garoppolo an opening for his second rushing touchdown of the day. The first came on a broken play, in which Garoppolo was supposed to give the ball to WR Deebo Samuel, but Samuel stopped short and QB1 took it in himself.
I tried to give it to Deebo,” Garoppolo said. “I said, ‘Go, go, go.’ And we both kind of froze for a second.”
Speaking of Samuel, after two dropped passes early in the game, the 49ers star-in-the-making ended the day with six receptions for 171 yards. Samuel got the offense going when he took a screen pass from Garoppolo on 3rd-and-19 for 83 yards and was stopped just short of the end zone, but it was the fire San Francisco needed.
“It just starts with the O-line and as you can see, it was a quick little pop screen and the whole left side of the offensive line got to get out and be lead blockers,” Samuel said. “I was just following them and it just popped open and I just handled the rest.”
Shanahan on the spark that was Deebo Samuel #49ers pic.twitter.com/NbvgqcK6r6
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) October 31, 2021
Samuel also caught a 50-yard pass to set up a field goal that cut the Bears’ lead to three going into halftime.
Let’s Talk Defense
The 49ers defense had a somewhat harder time, as they dealt with Bears’ rookie QB Justin Fields, who passed for 175 yards and a touchdown and ran for 103 yards, including an incredible 22-yard touchdown that showed just how elusive he is.
JUSTIN FIELDS ARE YOU SERIOUS?! #DaBears
📺: #SFvsCHI on FOX
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/i8nVWJPukV
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
That being said, the defense did sack Fields four times – two by Nick Bosa, one by Samson Ebukan (his first with the 49ers) and one by Marcell Harris.
“I don’t think it was our best performance on defense,” Bosa said. “But our offense had our back.”
A big positive: the 49ers did not commit one defensive pass interference penalty. CB Josh Norman was called for holding, but he also had a game-sealing interception, so it evened out.
Free safety Jimmie Ward left the game with a quad injury, the severity of which is not yet known, but Shanahan did express concern.
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk had his best of game of the season, finishing the day with four receptions for 45 yards. He also had a 21-yard punt return that put the 49ers at their own 48-yard line and set up the go-ahead touchdown.
“BA played his butt off today,” Shanahan said of the much-maligned receiver. “He was great. I knew he had a chance going into the game. He’s strung together a number of good weeks here. And I felt like this was the main week where his game really went up in practice where he gave me a lot of confidence throughout the week, gave the quarterbacks a lot of confidence, our team. And I could feel it from him all week, and I felt it today. So big props to BA today.”
Aiyuk could feel it as well.
“It’s a mindset,” Aiyuk said. “…Taking that into the week of practice, even starting last week rolling into this week, and then continuing to roll throughout the week…It’s easy on Sunday.”
- The two game balls went to Garoppolo and to punter Mitch Wishnowsky, who was with his wife Maddie last night for the birth of their daughter, before arriving in Chicago around 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
- Up next, the 3-4 49ers host the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals Nov. 7 at Levi’s Stadium.