By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) I have no idea why Bears fans were booing 49ers kicker Robbie Gould so lustily when he attempted the first of his five field goals at Soldier Field on Sunday. It was dumb, which is to say apt for the afternoon.
That he made all of them is the larger point, of course, providing the sum total of the 49ers’ scoring in their 15-14 victory, a day that saw the Bears and their coaches fail each other repeatedly in this latest episode of their spiral into a place somehow less meaningful than ignominy.
Gould once made an ill-advised comment during a contract stalemate, but that’s far from sufficient reason to jeer the best placekicker in team history, who didn’t make the decision to leave Chicago and has always carried himself with a high degree of class. That ill will would be better served for what at this point has to be a slew of lame-duck coaches who ensured that the only positive from Sunday was the cold comfort of draft position.
Jimmy Garoppolo won the battle of developing quarterbacks, especially when that term is becoming harder to apply to his counterpart. Mitchell Trubisky was careful and efficient in completing 12 of his 15 throws for 102 yards and a score, but he needed to do more — and to be trusted to try, at least, against a lowly defense in an already lost season. Garoppolo took advantage of a Bears defense shredded by injuries and forced to play an off-the-street safety amid a bend-but-not-break shell, taking what was given until it was time for Gould to swing his leg again.
The Bears offense couldn’t keep up even with that, producing just 147 total net yards and eight first downs. No play seemed connected to another in any reasonably strategic way, with Tarik Cohen’s don’t-ever-try-that-again punt return touchdown skewing the scoreboard as it provided a moment of interest. The Niners came in with the league’s 30th-ranked run defense, and the Bears managed just 62 yards on the ground in 19 attempts.
Nobody is quite sure why Chicago coach John Fox allowed San Francisco to bleed away almost two minutes at game’s end instead of choosing to let them score for a chance at coming back for the win. Albeit a slim one, it would seem to be his responsibility to choose life over pride regardless of his level of faith in the offense.
Instead, Fox insulted our intelligence by insisting that he “felt good” about his team’s chances of blocking Gould’s 24-yard field goal that would win the game. In the pantheon of inexcusable and preposterous coaching statements, this one deserves for a statue to be commissioned as we speak.
Think about how stupid this is — he told us that he bet on blocking a kick well shorter than an extra point.
Criticism in the immediate aftermath was notably harsh, with 670 The Score football expert Hub Arkush tweeting that “It’s hard to imagine any excuse for allowing John Fox and Dowell Loggains to coach the last four games of the season for the Bears,” while his Score and Pro Football Weekly colleague Greg Gabriel tweeted: “This is a 1 win team that totally kicked the Bears ass. Bears players do not give a s–t, that’s on the coaches.” Later, Gabriel tweeted, “I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a coaching change this week.”
The loss was historic, too, as noted by NBC Sports Chicago statistician Chris Kamka that it was the first time ever that a Bears team had lost a game in which it had scored at least two touchdowns and the opponent had none. Make a plaque for that, too.
Even more amazing was that there were only 8,489 fans who had something better to do on an ideal December Sunday than show up to watch it.