The Plan B Bowl was as anti-climactic as many expected (unless you live by the bay, in which case we happily accepted it). Not because it was a 6-5 dud fest, but because one team was aware there was a football game going on tonight. Colin Kaepernick did his best impersonation of Matt Flynn, creating a quarterback controversy for the next 48 hours. Jason Campbell meanwhile, played the role of a piñata for the better part of three and a half hours.
Kaepernick showed that he was more than a capable of running this team in Alex Smith’s absence. He would go 16-23 with 243 yards, throwing 2 touchdowns and no interceptions in his first career start. 184 of those passing yards would come in the first half, and he completed 12 of his first 14 passes.
Kaepernick played a dream-good game, using his mobility to elongate plays, such as his first touchdown throw of the game, to looking off linebackers, and stepping into the pocket before making big plays. He even excelled at getting long-lost teammates involved, as Vernon Davis had his best game since the beginning of the season, as he caught 6 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the defense smelled the blood in the water from the start, constantly harassing Jason Campbell and the Chicago Bears. They would sack Campbell five times (with most of the pressure coming from the Smiths, Justin and Aldon), intercept two passes, and get a safety.
For the Bears, this game was a disaster. While Campbell was sacked five times, it seemed he spent half the game on the ground. Countless times the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense looked like they lined up in the Bears huddle.
Campbell would complete 14 of his 22 passes, covering only 107 yards, for one touchdown and two interceptions. Forte would rush the ball 21 times for 63 yards, being a non-factor most of the game, for he, like Campbell, would consistently get hit behind the line of scrimmage. Usually a threat in the passing game, Forte would catch 3 passes for 4 yards.
The 49ers would also shut down Brandon Marshal, often sending multiple defenders to cover the superstar receiver. Marshall would amass only 2 receptions on 4 targets, for 21 yards and the team’s only score. The 49ers dared someone else to beat them, and no one else stepped up for the Bears.
The Bears find themselves at a bit of a crossroads at what looked like a dream season. The loss puts the team in a tie with the Green Bay Packers for the division lead, who they lost against in the second week of the season. If you take away the Bears Week 1 victory against the Indianapolis Colts (in Andrew Luck’s first game as a pro), the Bears haven’t beat a team with a winning record all year, having lost a close one to the Houston Texans, and having been thoroughly beaten by their division rival Green Bay Packers and tonight against the 49ers.
Defenses that go on touchdown binges usually cool off, and with the offensive line looking worse and worse, the alarm is going off on this dream season for the Chicago Bears. Their next four games are against playoff hopefuls, with two of them against the Minnesota Vikings and home games against both the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. If the Bears hope to make some noise, they have to go at least 3-1 over that stretch.
The 49ers might have turned their season around with one game. A week after a lackadaisical performance against the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers defense and offense came alive tonight, reminding fans in San Francisco how good this team looked when they opened the season tearing through the league, including the Green Bay Packers.
It’ll be interesting to see how Coach Jim Harbaugh handles the quarterback situation. After the game he said that he would ride “the hot hand,” which seemed to signify that Kaepernick might be the starter next week, replacing oft-maligned starter Alex Smith. We’ll see how he feels after the emotions of a big win subside, but it is a big game next week, as they will head to the Superdome, the site of this year’s Super Bowl, in order to face off with the red-hot New Orleans Saints.
If the starters of these two playoff teams continue to stay on the sidelines next week, it’ll be interesting to see if Kaepernick proves to be more than just a Matt Flynn, and if Jason Campbell can avoid being more than just a piñata, as these two teams try to set the pace for the NFC.
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