Game balls: 4 standouts from the Bears’ loss to 49ers

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The Chicago Bears lost their third straight game, a 33-22 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, which dropped the Bears to 3-5 on the season with a Monday Night showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the horizon.

While the outcome was brutal and there wasn’t anything to like about the defense’s performance, there were some encouraging things to come out of Chicago’s third straight loss, including the emergence of rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

Here is who earned game balls from the Week 8 loss to the 49ers:

QB Justin Fields

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

The most important thing to come out of Sunday’s loss to the 49ers was the progression of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who looked every bit the part of a franchise quarterback. Fields was poised, confident and decisive with his execution, whether that was through the air or on the ground. Fields completed 70 percent of his passes for 175 yards and a beauty of a touchdown to tight end Jesse James. He also added 103 yards on 10 carries, as well as an improbable 22-yard touchdown run. Fields took a step forward in his development on Sunday, and it didn’t go unnoticed that it was without Matt Nagy on the sideline.

TE Jesse James

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

It took a few games, but the Bears finally realized the importance of utilizing offensive weapons that Fields is most comfortable with. The Fields-James connection has flourished since training camp, and we finally got a taste of it in the regular season. James had three receptions for 38 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown. James has increased involvement in the passing game, and the hope is that continues. Especially given James is someone Fields trusts.

RB Khalil Herbert

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Running back Khalil Herbert continues to show he has a bright future. For the fourth straight game, Herbert amassed more than 70 yards rushing. Herbert had 23 carries for 74 yards, most of which came in the first half. While his 3.1 average was the least in his four-game stint, the Bears run game hasn’t faltered in David Montgomery’s absence. When Montgomery ultimately does return, there’s no way Chicago can go back to Damien Williams as the No. 2 running back.

K Cairo Santos

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Cairo Santos was perfect on all three field goals against the 49ers, extending his active streak to 37 consecutive made field goals, which is tied for the fourth-best streak in NFL history. Sure, Santos wasn’t perfect. He missed an extra point on the Bears’ second touchdown. But better Santos miss an extra point in an 11-point loss than a field goal in crunch time. And given how clutch Santos has been for Chicago over the last couple of years, it’s hard to be mad at him.

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