San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jimmie Ward (25) dives to the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass as Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Pho
Charles Rex Arbogast
December 07, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) As tough as this season has been for the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker NaVorro Bowman sees the plan coming together.

In his view, success really isn't too far away.

Blaine Gabbert threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime after running for the tying TD late in regulation, lifting the struggling San Francisco 49ers to a 26-20 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

''We can really have something special here,'' Bowman said. ''Maybe it's not coming as fast as we want, but we definitely can see the process. And it's looking good for us.''

The 49ers pulled out a wild win just when it looked like Chicago was ready to take this one.

The Bears grabbed the lead in the closing minutes of regulation on Ka'Deem Carey's tiebreaking touchdown run, only to lose in a wild finish.

Gabbert answered by scrambling 44 yards for a touchdown and then won it with that long pass in OT after the Bears' Robbie Gould missed a 36-yard field goal at the end of the fourth quarter.

''You really saw kind of the peaks and valleys of NFL football right there,'' Gabbert said.

The Bears (5-7) had just gone three-and-out after forcing a punt by San Francisco to start the extra period.

On the first play of the 49ers' second possession, Gabbert found a wide-open Smith along the left sideline, giving San Francisco (4-8) a surprising win over a team that had jumped into playoff contention.

''It was set up by all the throws we had underneath early on in the game, all the runs we ran out of that formation,'' Gabbert said. ''It worked perfectly. Torrey did a great job tracking the ball in the air and using his speed to outrun everybody.''

Here are some things we learned as the 49ers picked up their first road win after dropping their first five and the Bears fell to 1-5 at Soldier Field:

FLICKERING HOPES: The Bears' playoff hopes took a huge hit with this loss.

''I just think we've got to win out and focus on winning these next four games, and whatever help we get that's going to be the help we're going to get,'' linebacker Pernell McPhee said.

The fact that the Bears even jumped into contention was a surprise given last year's 5-11 freefall and an 0-3 start this season. But in their first season under coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace, they are hinting that bigger things are coming despite a lack of talent in some areas.

CASE FOR QB: Gabbert is building a case to be the 49ers' quarterback next season. The two late touchdowns certainly didn't hurt his cause.

He scrambled untouched through the middle for his first career touchdown run with 1:42 left, after some encouragement from Tomsula.

Gabbert, who took over for Colin Kaepernick last month, completed 18 of 32 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 75 yards and his score.

NO OFFENSE, BUT ...: With a grand total of 52 points the past three games, the Bears aren't exactly lighting it up on offense. That fact certainly wasn't lost on Cutler.

''Offensively we didn't play that great in Green Bay either,'' Cutler said. ''That's kind of the facts. Today we didn't play exceptionally well either. Offensively we've got a lot of work to do.''

Chicago managed just 17 points in a rare win at Green Bay on Thanksgiving, after being held in check four days earlier by one of the league's top defenses in a 17-15 loss to Denver.

The 49ers, however, came in ranked 25th against the run and 28th against the pass.

(UN)HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Chicago's Robbie Gould turned 34 Sunday and it probably wasn't his happiest birthday. One of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, he missed a 40-yard attempt in the third quarter and his potential winner at the end of regulation sailed wide left.

His five misses this season are tied for the second-most of his career. Gould had six as a rookie in 2005.

GOING DEEP: With his winning grab, Smith now has three touchdowns of 70 yards or more this season. According to information supplied to the 49ers by the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first San Francisco player to do that since John Taylor in 1989. Smith is also the first in the NFL to reach that mark since Cleveland's Josh Gordon in 2013.


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