Kyle Shanahan: 49ers 'in control' over Bears before Dante Pettis touchdown

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Shanahan: Pettis TD shifted momentum out of 49ers' control originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

There wasn’t much that went right for the 49ers in their 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

And amid countless missed opportunities for San Francisco in their season opener, coach Kyle Shanahan was able to identify the game’s key turning point -- which happened to involve a former 49er.

When Bears quarterback Justin Fields found a wide-open Dante Pettis with a 51-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter, the 49ers’ 10-point lead suddenly was cut to three.

“We felt very in control. I think that one play was a huge change,” Shanahan told reporters after the game regarding the Pettis score. “I thought we had every chance to run away with it in those first three quarters.”

Penalties and other miscues took away any early chances the 49ers had at putting the Bears away for good, Shanahan noted, and Fields’ ability to escape an incoming Arik Armstead on the third-quarter touchdown pass to Pettis proved to be a game-changer.

“[Fields] broke a sack, I think Armstead had him right there,” Shanahan said. “Fields did a hell of a job getting away from it … and then he bought time, and coverages don’t last that long.”

As soon as Fields broke away from the near sack, he was able to find Pettis at the 30-yard line without a 49ers defender in sight.

The catch had to feel sweet for Pettis, who was drafted by San Francisco in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft but then waived by the team two years later. The receiver spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the New York Giants before signing with the Bears in May and earning a spot on their roster.

On Sunday, his presence made all the difference against his former team.

After the Pettis touchdown brought the score to 10-7 in the third, Fields followed it up with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Equanimeous St. Brown in the fourth to take a 13-10 lead.

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A 3-yard touchdown by Khalil Herbert in the game’s waning minutes was the final nail in the coffin for the 49ers.

“... They scored a touchdown and the game never got the momentum back,” Shanahan said.

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