Second half recap and highlights
Shanahan kept it conservative in the opening drive of the second half, as he elected to punt on fourth-and-inches near midfield. But the Bears made him pay with a 90-yard touchdown drive:
Down by five points, conservative Shanahan turned into pass-happy Shanahan for the remainder of the game. After a sack and a penalty pushed the 49ers toward their end zone for a long third down try, Mullens lined up in a shotgun formation, with a draw or screen pass likely to come.
When tight end George Kittle motioned into the backfield, there was little question what would follow. After the snap, the Bears swarmed both Kittle and Mullens, forcing the quarterback to throw the ball into the ground.
The 49ers’ pass-fest continued when they received the ball on the following drive. A pair of third-down conversions and a long reception by Kittle put San Francisco back in the red zone with under eight minutes to go. But on first down, after Goodwin struggled to get off the line, Mullens tossed an imperfect but catchable pass in front of the receiver, which Goodwin tipped into the air for an interception:
With the Bears looking to run the clock, Trubisky scrambled for a third-down conversion but took a late hit from overly aggressive safety Marcell Harris, which drew a flag. Trubisky immediately got into Harris’ face, along with a number of players on Chicago’s bench. While the 49ers near the play worked to pull Harris from a swarm of Bears players who had hands on the defender, cornerback Richard Sherman sprinted directly into the middle of the action.
The sides quickly separated, and after an extremely time-consuming discussion between the officiating crew and NFL representatives in New York, Sherman and a pair of Chicago wide receivers were ejected from the game.
After converting a fourth-and-short from their 35-yard line, the Bears found themselves in a third-down situation that, if converted, would ice the game for the visiting team. Rookie cornerback Tarvarius Moore was no match for Robinson’s quick move off the line, and Trubisky hit his top wideout with the game-clinching pass.
But either unaware of the game situation, or blinded by the open field in front of him, Robinson decided to take the short pass to the house. Moore may be learning a new position, but the rookie can flat-out run. Within five yards, Moore caught up to Robinson and punched the ball out, giving the 49ers one final shot at a comeback win.
With just under two minutes remaining, the 49ers had sufficient time to drive down the field and score, particularly after Mullens hit Bourne on a 25-yard pass to midfield. San Francisco advanced the ball six yards before they faced a key third down at the Bears’ 45-yard line.
After dropping back, Mullens looked for Kittle for the third straight play. Mullens found his favorite target, who sat down in a hole in the zone beyond the sticks, but the QB air-mailed the pass over his receiver’s head. The incomplete pass forced a fourth down for the 49ers — and a play that would define Mullens’ rookie season.
The Bears rushed four in front of man coverage, as pressure forced Mullens to quickly roll out of the pocket to his right. But the three receivers who lined up to Mullens’ right had either crossed the formation or broke deep, leaving nothing but green grass in front of the quarterback.
Mullens entered Week 16 with 17 rushing attempts for -14 yards, highlighted by a season-high run of two yards. Mullens was about to set a new personal best — and given the open field in front of him, it would likely be his career best for years to come.
But before Mullens crossed the line, he shockingly readied himself for a deep pass and heaved it deep down the field — and out-of-bounds.
Next Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers finish off the 2018 NFL regular season when they travel south to take on the 12-3 Los Angeles Rams in Week 17.