CHICAGO (CBS SF) — Blaine Gabbert’s 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith after 2:10 of sudden death overtime gave the San Francisco 49ers a most improbable 26-20 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
It was San Francisco’s first road victory after five defeats, most of them by lopsided scores, and the first time the 49ers (4-8) scored more than 20 points on the road this season.
And it was a game in which the 49ers looked like the sure loser even after they rallied to tie the game at 20 with 1:42 remaining, Gabbert doing most of the damage with his legs and scoring the tying touchdown on a 44-yard scramble up the middle.
Deonte Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to set the Bears up at the 49ers’ 28-yard line. Chicago (5-7) ran the clock down to two seconds, called time out, and brought in Robbie Gould for a 36-yard field goal attempt as time expired. But it was wide left, the same as Gould’s 40-yard try in the third quarter.
In the first quarter, Gould made two field goals, from 40 and 51 yards.
The 49ers had the ball first in overtime and went three-and-out on three Gabbert incompletions. Chicago followed with a three-and-out of its own – averting a near interception on third down — punted, and the winning touchdown came on the next play.
The second half was scoreless for more than 26 minutes until backup running back Ka’Deem Carey’s 4-yard touchdown run with 3:32 remaining capped an 83-yard drive and gave the Bears a 20-13 lead.
Carey’s touchdown immediately followed two big pass plays in succession from quarterback Jay Cutler, a 30-yarder to Alshon Jeffery on third down and then a 26-yarder to Marc Mariani.
But the 49ers immediately came back with a 64-yard touchdown drive of their own capped by Gabbert’s 44-yard score.
San Francisco, the league’s third-worst team at converting third downs, tied the game at 13 with an 81-yard, 16-play drive in the second quarter during which it converted three consecutive third downs into first downs, including a 3rd-and-7 and a 3rd-and-9.
Gabbert threw to tight end Vance McDonald for 12 yards to convert one third down and hit Anquan Boldin for 11 yards to convert another. Running back Shaun Draughn scored on a 1-yard run.
After Gould’s two kicks made it 6-0, the 49ers tied it near the end of the quarter on a 29-yard interception return by Jimmie Ward, but the extra point was blocked.
A 31-yard pass from Cutler to Jeffery and a pair of 14-yard gains by Matt Forte, one on a screen pass, one on a run, led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Forte that put the Bears ahead, 13-6, early in the second quarter.
NOTES: The 49ers scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time this season. S Jimmie Ward jumped on QB Jay Cutler’s screen pass and returned it 29 yards to the end zone, Cutler’s third pick-6 of the season. … The 49ers’ first first down came with 12:51 remaining in the second quarter, an eight-yard scramble by QB Blaine Gabbert. … San Francisco LB Michael Wilhoite (ankle) and TE Vance McDonald (concussion) were lost for the second half and LB Aaron Lynch left midway through the third quarter. . . Bears TE Martellus Bennett was helped off the field with an apparent leg injury in the third quarter but returned to the game.
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