49ers jump out to 27-7 lead against Bears
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Colin Kaepernick tossed his first two career touchdown passes, Kendall Hunter ran for a score and the San Francisco 49ers led the Chicago Bears 27-7 through three quarters Monday night.
Kaepernick completed 15 of 20 passes for 232 yards and looked calm and in control in his first NFL start. With Alex Smith out with a concussion, Kaepernick threw touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree and engineered four straight scoring drives to pace San Francisco's sizzling start.
The former Nevada quarterback turned the Battle of the Backups into a one-sided affair.
Jason Campbell also started for the Bears with Jay Cutler out with a concussion. Campbell completed 9 of 16 passes for 76 yards, including a touchdown to Brandon Marshall after San Francisco sprinted to a 27-0 lead.
Campbell, who missed the final 10 games with the Oakland Raiders last season with a broken collarbone, also threw two interceptions while working under constant pressure. Aldon Smith sacked him four times alone as Chicago struggled to get any offensive momentum until Marshall's 13-yard TD catch late in the third quarter.
What a night for San Francisco's 2011 draft class.
Smith (7th overall), Kaepernick (second round, 36th overall) and Hunter (fourth round, 115th overall) all made their mark on Monday Night Football.
Smith's sacks gave him 13 1/2 on the season, passing Denver's Von Miller (13) for the NFL lead. Hunter had three carries for 28 yards behind Frank Gore (14 carries for 64 yards) and Kaepernick kept the 49ers in rhythm.
In a matchup of two NFC division leaders, San Francisco seemed to have no problem with a late fill-in starter.
Late Monday morning, the 49ers announced Smith failed to pass final tests under the NFL's concussion treatment protocol. Team medical director Dr. Dan Garza evaluated Smith, who was hurt eight days ago against St. Louis and seemed to be on pace to play after participating in non-contact portions of practices all week. Smith had made 28 consecutive starts.
Kaepernick, who replaced Smith midway through the second quarter in the 24-24 tie against the Rams, looked right at home in primetime.
He completed his first four passes, including a pair to Davis, on San Francisco's opening drive. The 49ers also were helped by a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit by Chris Conte after Mario Manningham's 8-yard catch during the drive, ending with David Akers' first of two field goals.
The 49ers stopped the Bears three-and-out, and Kaepernick quickly connected with Kyle Williams for 57 yards, dropping the ball over two defenders and hitting the receiver in stride down the sideline. A play later, Davis caught a 3-yard pass to put San Francisco ahead 10-0, shooting the ball over the crossbar in celebration.
Even another 49ers backup got into the mix.
Hunter, the former Oklahoma State speedster, added a 14-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Akers later kicked his second field after Terrell Brown intercepted Campbell's pass, and Kaepernick shifted in the pocket before tossing a 10-yard touchdown to Crabtree early in the third quarter. Dashon Goldson intercepted another Campbell pass late in the third quarter.
Not bad for a 49ers team hit with injuries to two of its top men.
Along with Alex Smith out, San Francisco got another scare when coach Jim Harbaugh missed most of Thursday's practice to undergo a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat. He returned Friday, energized and eager to get back to work, and his only problem now might be quieting fans wanting a permanent quarterback change after Kaepernick's breakout performance.
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