CHICAGO -- The 49ers just saved their season with a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears. The 49ers' record now is 3-4, and next they'll play the Arizona Cardinals, who probably won't have their quarterback, Kyler Murray. Which means the 49ers season very much is alive.
Here are the 49ers' grades for their win over Chicago.
More than anything, he was clutch. The 49ers' season was on the line and so was his job, so he needed to play well against a bad team missing its best player -- pass rusher Khalil Mack. And Garoppolo took care of business. His passer rating was 100.6, and he even ran for two touchdowns. He looked calm, confident and mobile for the first time in a couple years. He also faced zero pass rush, and his running back, Elijah Mitchell, averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per carry, and his longest completion was an 83-yard screen pass, which made life easy for Garoppolo. Still, he did what he had to do and played a complete game two days before the trade deadline. Perfect timing. The 49ers should trade him now while his stock is up. Seriously. Trade him now. His stock only will go down again.
RUNNING BACKS: A-PLUS.
Elijah Mitchell is one hell of a running back and currently the best rookie on the roster. He rushed 18 times for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. When the 49ers pitched him the ball outside the tackles, he moved and gained yards like Raheem Mostert. Mitchell is the key to the 49ers' run-first offense, because he's the running back. When he's successful, so is the rest of the offense. It all starts with him.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A-MINUS.
While Mitchell unlocks the 49ers offense, Samuel is its best player by far. He has more receiving yards through seven games than Jerry Rice ever had through the same ammount of time. In this game, Samuel had six catches for 171 yards, including an 83-yard gain on a screen when the 49ers were losing in the third quarter. This heroic play turned the entire game around for the 49ers and arguably saved their season. On top of that, Brandon Aiyuk had his first good game of 2021, as he caught four passes for 45 yards. Good to see the 49ers finally let him out of the doghouse.
TIGHT ENDS: C.
George Kittle didn't play, which means the tight ends were practically non-existent in the passing game. But both Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley blocked well for Mitchell.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: A-MINUS.
They allowed zero sacks and gave Mitchell clear lanes to run through, especially along the left side. But any time the 49ers tried to run between the tackles toward the right side of their offensive line, they struggled because right guard Daniel Brunskill generates no push at the point of attack. He's not a starting-caliber player.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: D.
Nick Bosa had two sacks and Samson Ebukam had one, and those sacks were extremely important, but this unit simply could not stop the run. They gave up a whopping 176 yards on the ground. The defensive tackles got pushed around because Javon Kinlaw is out for the season and he's the most stout player in the interior for the 49ers. And the 49ers absolutely could not contain rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who ran 10 times for 103 yards and 1 touchdown. Run defense will be an issue for the 49ers the rest of the season.
Fred Warner had a solid game, but the defensive line did him no favors, and his fellow linebackers were sub par, as starters Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair were out with injuries.
Talanoa Hufanga made his first career start in place of Jaquiski Tartt and dropped an interception, and then Jimmie Ward left the game with a quad injury that could sideline him a few weeks.
Josh Norman committed a holding penalty, but attoned for his mistake by intercepting Fields in the fourth quarter. Emmanuel Moseley played soft coverage all game and got beaten by nobodies.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-MINUS
Backup kicker Joey Slye missed an extra point and a field goal wide right. You'd think he would have adjusted and aimed a little bit more to his left. At least he missed only two kicks.
The defense struggled most of the game against one of the worst offenses in the NFL, which isn't good. DeMeco Ryans seemed thrown off by the Bears not having their head coach, Matt Nagy. Perhaps Ryans was prepared for Nagy's tendencies, and not his replacement's tendencies. Whatever the case, not Ryans' best performance. But he's a footnote. The most important coach is Kyle Shanahan, and he had his best performance of the season. He got his run game going for the first time since Week 1, which made things easy for the defense and Garoppolo as well. Funny how that works. Shanahan wasn't a genius or anything -- he beat the freaking Bears -- but he finally seemed like himself, the Shanahan who knows how to put together a run game and beat a wounded opponent. Good to see. Now he needs to do it again next week.