- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Bears were struggling to complete a pass, let alone find the end zone.

Good thing for them, they were playing the 49ers.

Jordan Howard ran for 117 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and the Bears handed San Francisco its 11th straight loss, 26-6 on a snowy Sunday.

The 49ers (1-11) extended their franchise-record losing streak and set a club low with 6 yards net passing on a day when Colin Kaepernick got lifted for Blaine Gabbert.

The Bears (3-9) finished with a season high in points and picked up a rare win in a matchup between two of the NFL’s worst teams.

“It does feel good,” coach John Fox said. “Hats off to those guys in that locker room. … Different guys had to step in and did a very nice job.”

Matt Barkley , making his second start with Jay Cutler sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury, went nearly the entire first half without a completion.

But he adjusted his arm angle because of the conditions, led a touchdown drive near the end of the second quarter and finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards. By the end of the game, his confidence was soaring.

“Probably at an all-time high in this league,” said Barkley, drafted by Philadelphia in 2013 when Chip Kelly was coaching the Eagles. “Just knowing that I can play, that we can make plays as an offense.”

Howard , who came in with two rushing touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the first half.

A fifth-round draft pick from Indiana, he added a 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third and a 5-yard run midway through the quarter.

Howard’s three rushing TDs are tied for the second-most by a Bears rookie in a game. Willie Galimore (1957) and Rashaan Salaam (1995) also did it. The only Bears rookie to rush for more in a game was Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965.

Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks to help Chicago stop a three-game slide.


The 49ers haven’t won since they shut out Los Angeles in the opener, and it’s not clear who will start at quarterback next week against the Jets.

Kelly wasn’t tipping his hand. Kaepernick said the switch surprised him.

“It’s not my place to really argue on the sideline,” said Kaepernick, who found out from quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. “I want to make sure I do what I can to help this team win and that was the decision that was made so I am going to support my teammates.”

Kaepernick completed just 1 of 5 passes for 4 yards and was sacked five times. He also ran for 20 yards on six attempts before Gabbert replaced him in the fourth quarter.

Gabbert was 4 of 10 for 35 yards and sacked for a safety near the end of the game.

Carlos Hyde ran for 92 yards, but the 49ers’ slide continued.


The Bears led 7-6 after a first half that was ugly.

Neither team completed a pass in the first quarter - something that hadn’t happened in an NFL game since the Jets and Patriots did it on Nov. 13, 1988, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

San Francisco had minus-14 yards passing in the half and didn’t get a completion until Kaepernick connected with Vance McDonald on a 4-yarder midway through the second quarter.

Barkley went almost the entire half without one before completing four for 64 yards on a touchdown drive that gave Chicago a 7-6 lead.

He finally hit Deonte Thompson with a short pass with 1:43 remaining. Two completions to Cameron Meredith - a 28-yarder and 17-yarder - put the ball on the San Francisco 12. And Howard ran it in from the 1 to give Chicago a 7-6 lead with 31 seconds left after Tramaine Brock got flagged for pass interference against Daniel Brown in the end zone.


“I was just watching how the ball was coming off his hands and what our chances were completing it.” - Kelly on the lack of pass calls for Kaepernick.


Bears WR Marquess Wilson left with a strained groin. … C Cody Whitehair rolled his ankle early in the fourth quarter when he got pushed back and fell awkwardly over Howard. He returned to the game and said he was fine. … Floyd was back in the lineup after missing a game because of a concussion. … LG Josh Sitton was active but did not start after missing a game because of a right ankle injury. … WR Alshon Jeffery served the third game of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers, while LB Jerrell Freeman served his second game.


49ers: Host New York Jets on Sunday.

Bears: Visit Detroit on Sunday.


For more NFL coverage: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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