Penalties and Turnovers Cost the 49ers in Season Opener
It was a second half to forget for the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, letting penalties and sloppy play dictate the day.
The 49ers start the season 0-1 in 2022, losing to the Chicago Bears, 19-10.
San Francisco came into Solider Field ready to dominate, and looked to do so in the first half, holding the Bears to 26 yards on 20 plays. A lot of that was due to the relentless drive of second-year safety Talonoa Hufanga, registering eight tackles and an interception in the first half.
That set the tone for the 49ers heading into the break up 7-0.
Offensively, quarterback Trey Lance and Co. left points on the table in the first half, missing Tyler Kroft on a play-action leak route that would have been the opening touchdown. Instead, the QB throws it over his head and the 49ers are behind schedule, something Lance attributes to his play over the game.
*Trey Lance with the miss here to Kroft.pic.twitter.com/j3vfDA0v8A
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 11, 2022
“I made too many mistakes… I had a big miss to Tyler Kroft in the endzone… I turned the ball over, took a sack that took us out of field goal range that I shouldn’t have, missed Deebo on a third down, missed another third down to Jauan. Just too many mistakes,” an honest Lance said post-game Sunday.
He finished the day 13 for 28 with 164 passing yards and one INT. The QB also ran for 54 yards on the day.
It wasn’t all on Lance however, as turnovers and mistakes cost them from the first quarter.
An example of that was on the first drive, getting the ball down to the Chicago’s 16-yard line before wide receiver Deebo Samuel fumbled it on a run play, halting the drive. He eventually made up for it, running it in from the six yards out to open up the scoring in the second quarter.
Injuries continued to plague the 49ers Sunday afternoon, losing running back Elijah Mitchell to a knee injury that ruled him out for the second half.
Saw #49ers RB Elijah Mitchell leaving the locker room with a substantial brace on his right leg. He was not bending it as he was slowly making his way to the bus, but he was not on crutches.
— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) September 11, 2022
The game flipped on it’s head in the third quarter.
After a Robbie Gould field goal put San Francisco up by 10, the game seemed well in hand. Then distaster struck.
Stopping the Bears at midfield, linebacker Dre Greenlaw commits a senseless facemask penalty tackling the running back, giving Chicago a new set of downs. Bears QB Justin Fields and the offense then proceed to start the comeback, finding former 49er Dante Pettis for a 51-yard TD pass. 10-7 and we have a ball game.
Disaster continues as penalties backed up the offense the next possession, leading to a punt.
From there, the Bears strung some good plays toghter before being bailed out on third down by Greenlaw once again. Commtting an egregious unnecessary roughness on a downed Fields, the Bears got another lifeline after a potential three and out.
The secondary of the 49ers also helped out their opponents with Charvarius Ward committing a holding call that moved the chains further.
One more first down completed before Fields found a wide open WR Equanimeous St. Brown in the endzone, 13-10 as the Bears take the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Smelling blood in the air, the Windy City defense swarmed Lance and the offensive line, causing false start call on rookie guard Spencer Burford. Able to pick up a pivotal third down conversion to TE Ross Dwelley, Lance threw his first pick of the season, telegraphing a pass that safety Eddie Jackson jumps and returns for a big gain.
A defensive holding call by DT Javon Kinlaw sets up the Bears with a first and goal, converting from three yards out on a Khalil Herbert run. 19-10, disaster continues to befall the 49ers.
Lance tried to mount a comeback in the final few minutes but the rain was falling like cats and dogs, making it impossible to hold onto the football. A false start penalty on Trent Williams puts the Red & Gold behind once again, resulting in two turnover on downs and the ballgame.
The story of the day will be the penalties for the 49ers, committing 12 for 99 yards compared to the Bears, 3 for 24 yards.
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) September 11, 2022
Generational meltdown pic.twitter.com/tobv9eNe2Z
— Jordan Elliott (@JLeeElliott) September 11, 2022
“When you look at the 12 penalties, you look at when they happened, when you look at those turnovers…you’re not shocked,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said regarding the loss Sunday. “I’m disappointed in some of the silly mistakes we did to ourselves.”
This was a theme across the board in the post-game interviews, all members of the organization feeling like they beat themselves in Week 1.
“It’s hard enough to play against the opposing team. It’s even hard to play against yourself,” LT Trent Williams stated.
Some would want to blame the play of Lance (including himself) for the result, some would blame the conditions (they were terrible at best), but others know that it was the collapse of a supposed elite defense that led to the demise of the 49ers in Week 1.
Trey Lance hasn't been great in this game, but he's not the reason the 49ers are losing. They're losing because their supposedly elite defense completely fell apart in the 2nd half against an inept offense.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) September 11, 2022
“Penalties… Did what we were supposed to do in the first half. We were stopping the run all day. We just killed ourselves with penalties,” a frustrated Nick Bosa agreed.
Back to the drawing board for Shanahan and the coaching staff, returning to Santa Clara to face divisional rival, Seattle Seahawks, in Week 2 of the regular season.