Niners Pick Cutler Five Times, End Losing Streak

Michael Lewis secures 49ers win

Michael Lewis secures 49ers win

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The win was ugly but it was a win nonetheless and ended the 49ers four-game losing streak.  Thanks to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for continuing his best impression of Bret Favre by trying to pass into tight spots and throwing five picks.  Much of the credit has to go to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky who drew up a game plan that attacked what the Bears do best which is the pass.  Even though Cutler threw for 307 yards the 49ers defense executed Manusky’s game plan to almost perfection as the 49ers leaned on their defense to win the game.  Tarell Brown, Mark Roman, Aubrayo Franklin, Dashon Goldson and Michael Lewis were the five Niners to intercept Cutler.  Let’s hand out some game gold nuggets.

OFFENSE New Picture

The offense only gets one gold nugget because the lone bright spot on offense for the 49ers was the lone touchdown scored in the game by running back Frank Gore who rushed for 104 yards.  Other than Gore the offense was not very productive.  I thought Alex Smith was going to have a career game passing for over 300 yards but he only managed 118 passing yards completing 16 of 23 passes with no touchdowns and one interception.  Only one turnover for Smith which is good but for the 49ers offense to score only one touchdown on the five picks shows more that the 49ers offense is still developing with Smith and the spread formation rather than the Bears playing a good defensive game.  As unproductive as Smith was he was able to lead a drive in the fourth quarter that ran 6:14 off of the clock.  The 49ers did not get a score but running off almost half of the fourth quarter proved to be the key to the 49ers win.  Cutler drove the Bears down to the 49ers 1-yard line with eight seconds left on the clock.  Had the bears offense had more time for one more play could have been the difference between a 3-6 record and the 49ers imploding and a 4-5 record and the 49ers still being in the hunt for the playoffs.

With wider receiver Isaac Bruce inactive due to an ankle injury the 49ers went with youth at wide receiver with Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Jason Hill.  The 49ers Faithful saw for the first time the future of the 49ers at wide out and although they did not have a big game the trio is something to look out for the rest of the season.  Crabtree lead all receivers with four receptions for 48 yards, Morgan had three receptions for 24 yards and Hill had just one catch for five yards.  Not spectacular but all three wide receivers have huge potential in the 49ers new offensive philosophy.

Singletary decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 on the Bears 46-yard line in the third quarter with a QB sneak up the middle.  The 49ers could not gain the needed yard and the Bears took over and eventually got a field goal.  Singletary was shown talking to his offensive line after the play probably asking why can’t five 300 plus pound men move the line of scrimmage one yard forward.  He then probably followed up with some encouragement.  But not getting a first down is a cause of concern.  With 49ers only up 7-3 in the third quarter the offense needs to capitalize on a play like that.  If the Bears would have scored a touchdown on the drive that followed the 49ers would still have their losing streak.

DEFENSE New PictureNew PictureNew PictureNew PictureNew Picture

This is the first time I have given out five gold nuggets but the defense deserves it not only for the five interceptions but also because they were the reason why the 49ers pulled out the victory.  The offense was only able to convert one touchdown out of the five interceptions which going forward the Niners need to do a better job of but once the defense was given a 7-0 lead they never looked back and forced Cutler to throw five picks.  The two biggest picks of the game were the two times the Bears reached inside the 49ers five-yard line and both ended in interceptions with the last one securing the Niners win as time expired.  Cutler is known to throw picks but the 49ers defense were quick to react to passes by breaking them up.  There were two other almost interceptions as the 49ers secondary did a great job of covering the Bears receivers and limiting WR Devin Hester to seven receptions for 48 yards and TE Greg Olsen to seven receptions for 75 yards.  Once again the 49ers front line stopped another great running back.  Matt Forte only managed 41 rushing yards on 20 carries and averaged a messily 2.1 per carry.  The 49ers could not keep Forte in check in catches as he led the Bears with 8 receptions for 120 yards.  Overall this was the best game defensively played by the 49ers this season as they came into the game with five picks all season and doubled their total to ten by the end of the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS New Picture

Usually kicker Joe Nedney and punter Andy Lee are automatic on special teams.  However Nedney missed a 39 yard field goal on the 49ers first possession of the game which could have been the difference between a win and a loss had Cutler thrown a touchdown in the final seconds.  Special teams always gets overlooked even when they play well but when they could have cost you the game the glaring mistakes are front and center.  Pro Bowl punter Lee had been playing well punting the football inside the 20-yard line 19 times so far this season but he did not have a good game last night.  Before the Bears final push to try to score a touchdown to pull out the win Lee punted after the 49ers ran 6:14 off the clock but booted it into the end zone.  Normally Lee is great at placing his punts where he wants to but he was off yesterday all game.  The return game was nothing special yet again.  Punt returner Brandon Jones only had one return for 4 yards and kickoff returner Arnaz Battle had 2 returns for 24 and 26 yards.

COACHING New PictureNew PictureNew PictureNew Picture

Three game gold nuggets go to defensive coordinator Manusky for drawing up a great game plan for the Bears and for getting his defense prepared in only three days.  Manusky called the right blitz’s at the right time and had his safety’s stay back most of the game to keep the Bears from throwing a deep pass which the 49ers have given up numerous times this season.  For a defense that had not had a turnover since October 11 to get five picks all while not recording a sack is a step in the right direction for the D.

Singletary and all of the 49ers coaching staff did a great job in getting their team prepared during such a short week after coming off of four straight losses.  The short week could have been the reason why both offenses yesterday had such a poor performance but that did not translate to the defense for either team.  Kudos to Singletary going for it on 4th-and-1 in the third quarter but a better play could have been called by Jimmy Raye than a QB sneak up the middle.  Raye continued his use of the shotgun and spread formations which is good for Alex Smith when running the offense.  Even though Raye had his offense run off over six minutes off the clock in the fourth I think he was too conservative on the drive as he called ten rushes and only one pass in the 49ers final drive.  We got the win so I guess it does not matter but I was having visions of week three and the Vikings getting the football back with plenty of time to score the winning touchdown after conservative running plays forced the 49ers to punt.  Again, the receiver was in the back of the end zone waiting for the winning pass to be caught but this time the Niners had safety Michael Lewis covering the receiver and picking off the pass ending the game in favor of the 49ers this time.

Next up

@ Green Bay.  The 49ers will look to take advantage of the nine days off they have now and until week 11.  The Packers lost last week against the Buccaneers in a demoralizing loss that gave the Bucs their first win of the season.  The Packers will play the resurgent Cowboys this weekend at home so there is a high possibility the 49ers could be facing a team on a two game losing streak. Not sure if that is good or bad for the Niners but with so much time off between now and week 11 Singletary should be able to draw up a great game plan to start a 49ers winning streak.

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