Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

Kelly benched Kaepernick to see if Gabbert could provide spark

CHICAGO – The 49ers on Sunday had the second-worst passing day in the 71-season history of the organization.

Coach Chip Kelly made the move at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bench quarterback Colin Kaepernick in favor of Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers sunk to new depths with a 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on a cold, snowy day at Soldier Field.

Kelly said he made the move because it was clear to him that Kaepernick was not coping well with the inclement conditions. Kaepernick completed just one of five passing attempts for 4 yards through three quarters. He was sacked five times for minus-25 yards.

Kelly was asked afterward if Kaepernick would regain his starting job for next week’s game against the New York Jets.

“We haven’t had any discussions about anything,” Kelly said. “It was just my decision to make a move to see if we could get a spark and see where we were.

“At that point in the game, we’re down a couple of scores (18 points) and, obviously, we have to throw it a ton. So we just wanted to see if we could get a spark for our team. There were no permanent decisions or anything like that.”

Gabbert did not have much more success in his one quarter of action. He completed four of 10 attempts for 35 yards. He was sacked in the end zone late in the fourth quarter for a safety.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Kaepernick said of his benching. “It wasn’t something I expected. I’m always prepared and ready to do everything I can to help this team win.

“It’s not about my feelings. It’s about being able to help this team win. This coaching staff didn’t feel like I was, you know, out there being able to help this team win, so they made a change -- whether I agreed with that or not.”

The 49ers stuck with the running game for most of the game. Running back Carlos Hyde gained 92 yards on 20 rushing attempts, while Kaepernick rushed six times for 20 yards.

Kelly took the conservative approach in conditions that were snowy, wet and near freezing. There was no wind. Kelly was asked afterward if he might have been too cautious with Kaepernick.

“No, I was just watching how the ball was coming off his hands and what our chances were of completing it,” he said. “Maybe I was too cautious, but it didn’t look like we were doing much in the passing game.”

Kelly pointed out that the weather did not appear to have much of a negative impact on Bears quarterback Matt Barkley, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 192 yards.

“Both teams played in the same weather, so I don’t look at that as an excuse, in terms of we had the same weather that they had,” Kelly said. “Both teams had to deal with it, and they dealt with it better, especially in the pass game.”

Said Kaepernick, “I think the weather was something that definitely played a factor. We have to be able to do a better job managing that, handing it and being able to throw the ball, still.

“More than anything, it was tougher throwing a wet football. Once again, we have to be better at, being able to handle it.”

The 49ers had just 6 yards of net passing in the game. Kaepernick and Gabbert combined for 39 yards passing. Negative yardage on sacks counts against net passing yardage in the NFL, and the 49ers had 33 yards in sacks.

The 49ers franchise-worst game in passing is minus-10 yards. Quarterbacks Bob Waters and Lamar McHan combined for 63 yards passing against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 6, 1963. The 49ers gave up 73 yards in sacks to account for the negative yardage.

“It was just one of those days,” Gabbert said. “It’s not on any single guy’s shoulders why we didn’t win this football game and why we didn’t execute as an offense.”

Kaepernick had been playing some of the best football of his career entering Sunday’s game. In the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins a week earlier, Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and gained 113 yards rushing.

“We have to continue to keep building, keep progressing,” Kaepernick said. “This is a setback, most definitely, but we have to be able to keep pushing forward.”

On Sunday, the NFL Network reported Kaepernick planned to opt out the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Kaepernick said he is not looking ahead to the offseason.

“Once again, like I’ve said all along, my focus is on the next game,” Kaepernick said. “So my focus has been on the Bears this past week.”

When asked whether he expects to remain the 49ers’ starter, Kaepernick answered, “That’s not my decision. My feelings on it really don’t matter at this point. I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared.”

 

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

Chip Kelly coached 49ers in Chicago despite father's death

CHICAGO – Paul Kelly, the father of Chip Kelly, passed away on Friday night, the 49ers coach confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Kelly flew from Chicago to New Hampshire late Friday after learning of his father’s death. He returned for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. The 49ers lost their 11th consecutive game, a 26-6 defeat to the Bears.

When asked if he considered not coaching in the game, Kelly told CSNBayArea.com, “My mom wanted me to coach.”

Kelly said the team was making travel plans to send him back to New Hampshire after the game to be with his family, including his mother, Jean.

General manager Trent Baalke informed the 49ers’ players during a meeting Saturday morning in Chicago.

Paul Kelly was a retired trial lawyer and a member of the New Hampshire Bar from 1960 to 2000.

In a 2009 profile on the Kelly family in the Oregonian, Paul Kelly was described as “cerebral, successful and competitive.” The article states that throughout Chip Kelly's childhood, his father preached, “Deeds, not words.”

Instant Replay: 49ers plowed by Bears, skid reaches 11

Instant Replay: 49ers plowed by Bears, skid reaches 11

BOX SCORE

CHICAG0 – Just when the 49ers’ offense started to look as if it was warming up in Florida, things got cold in a hurry.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ passing game put together one of the most anemic showings in 49ers franchise history on Sunday in a 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on a snowy day at Soldier Field.

Kaepernick completed just one of five pass attempts for 4 yards. He was also sacked five times for minus-25 yards to give the 49ers minus-21 net yards passing in his three quarters of action.

With more than 12 minutes remaining and the 49ers trailing by 18 points, coach Chip Kelly benched Kaepernick and inserted Blaine Gabbert.

On Gabbert’s first play, he completed an 18-yard pass to receiver Jeremy Kerley. Gabbert, who started the 49ers first five games of the season, ended up with four completions in 10 attempts for 35 yards.

The 49ers entered the game with their franchise-worst game in passing at minus-10 yards, when Bob Waters and Lamar McHan combined for 63 yards passing against the Detroit Lions in 1963. The 49ers gave up 73 yards in sacks to account for the negative yardage.

The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-worst losing streak to 11 games against a Bears team that improves to 3-9 despite 15 players being on injured reserve. That list does not include quarterback Jay Cutler, who remains on the roster despite a season-ending shoulder injury.

The 49ers’ utter futility in the passing game was reminiscent of a 2005 trip the 49ers made to Soldier Field. Unlike Sunday, that game was howling wind that featured gusts up to 47 mph. On that day, Cody Pickett completed just one of his 13 pass attempts for 28 yards.

Neither Kaepernick nor Bears quarterback Matt Barkley completed a pass in the first quarter. Barkley was 0 for 2, while Kaepernick was 0 for 1. Kaepernick was also sacked two times for minus-18 yards.

It was the first NFL game since a New York Jets-New England game in 1988 that did not have a completed pass in the first quarter, according to Elias Sports.

The 49ers concluded the first quarter with 11 consecutive run plays. When Kaepernick finally completed a pass – a shovel pass to Shaun Draughn for 15 yards – it was nullified by right guard Joshua Garnett’s holding penalty. He later found tight end Vance McDonald on a 4-yard pass.

The fact that both teams did not even try to throw was a bit perplexing consider there was absolutely no wind and the snow did not pick up until halftime.

Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. The team practiced in mid-80s temperatures in Orlando, Fla., before traveling north to near freezing conditions in Chicago.

The Bears finally began to open up their offense after the 49ers took a 6-0 lead late in the first half. Barkley completed three of four attempts for 64 yards and benefitted from a questionable pass-interference penalty on Tramaine Brock in the end zone.

Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard punched it in from 1-yard out with 35 seconds remaining in the half to give Chicago a 7-6 lead after 30 minutes.

While the 49ers continued to stumble around, the Bears figured out that the conditions did not prevent them from incorporating the pass into their offense. Chicago scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half. They capped drives of 75 and 59 yards with Howard’s touchdown runs of 2 and 5 yards to take a 21-6 lead.

After his rough start, Barkley ended up having a fair amount of success against the 49ers. He ended up completing 11 passes for 192 yards. Barkley, who spent his first two NFL seasons as a reserve on Kelly’s team with the Philadelphia Eagles, made his second career start.

Premature celebration
Rookie Rashard Robinson celebrated Dontae Johnson’s blocked field-goal return for a touchdown with a snow angel (after Johnson did one first). There was only one problem: Johnson did not score a touchdown.

Johnson picked up the ball after Shaun Draughn broke through to block Pat O’Donnell’s punt. Johnson returned the ball 25 yards but was pushed out at the 4-yard line. Robinson thought Johnson scored and celebrated.

Robinson’s 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct pushed the 49ers’ offense back to the 19-yard line. After going nowhere in three plays, kicker Phil Dawson booted a 31-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 3-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter.

This ‘n’ that
--The 49ers’ field goals in the first half were set up by special teams. After Draughn’s blocked punt and Johnson’s return, it was Jimmie Ward who stepped up with a big play. Ward stripped Chicago kickoff return man Deonte Thompson and recovered at the Bears’ 37.

Dawson, who earlier hit a 31-yard field goal, made a 28-yard kick to give the 49ers a short-lived 6-0 lead with 1:56 remaining in the first half.

--Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch misseed his fifth consecutive game with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in just three games this season. He served a four-game suspension to begin the season for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. He was injured late in the 49ers’ Oct. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next week was the 49ers’ bye week. Eli Harold will start in place of Lynch for the ninth time this season.

--Wide receiver Quinton Patton was cleared to return to action after sustaining a concussion last week. The 49ers had six wide receivers active for the game: Patton, Torrey Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater, Aaron Burbridge, and Chris Harper.