On Nov. 19, 2012, Colin Kaepernick made his first NFL start against the Chicago Bears and burst into stardom on “Monday Night Football.”
Unfortunately for Kap and the San Francisco 49ers (1-1), Sunday night’s game against the Bears (1-1) didn’t have quite the same ending.
Turnovers and penalties plagued Kap and the 49ers, and the team blew a 17 point lead to drop the first regular season game at the brand new Levi’s Stadium.
“It stings to lose and we all have fingerprints on it,” said 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh about dropping the game.
For the second week in a row, the 49ers got off to a hot start. After a blocked punt by 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch, Kaepernick was able to connect with Michael Crabtree for a 3-yard touchdown only 2:18 into the game.
Kaepernick and the 49ers offense continued the hot start and lead 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Kaepernick had his first blemish after Chris Conte of the Bears dove in front of a Kap pass for an interception — the first of 3 on the night for Kap.
Later in the second quarter, 49ers running back Frank Gore had a long touchdown run called back because of a penalty with 6:18 left in the first half. A few plays later, Kap would fumble on a read-option play and the Bears would recover.
The Bears wouldn’t be able to capitalize on the turnover, however, and the 49ers would score on the ensuing drive.
Gore dove into the endzone on an 8-yard touchdown run, set up by a 22-yard Kap pass to tight end Derek Carrier, to give the 49ers a 17-0 lead.
However, the Bears would score a touchdown with 13 seconds left in the first half after Bears receiver Brandon Marshall made a spectacular one-handed 17-yard catch.
The 49ers lead 17-7 going into halftime, despite committing 10 penalties.
After dominating the majority of the first half, Kap lead the 49ers on an 14-play, 84-yard drive that took more than nine minutes off the clock, but the team had to settle for a field goal and a 20-7 lead.
This would prove to be the last score for the 49ers and where things began to snowball out of control.
On the ensuing drive, the Bears countered with an 80-yard drive ending with another Marshall touchdown that brought the Bears within one score.
Early in fourth quarter, Kap threw his second interception of the night when Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller ripped the ball away from Crabtree.
The Bears would take a 21-20 lead on a touchdown catch by tight end Martellus Bennett following the interception.
Fuller struck again and intercepted a second Kap pass with 9:08 remaining in the game. The Bears again capitalized with a third Marshall touchdown catch and extending the Bears lead to 28-20.
Despite blowing the 17-point lead, the 49ers still had a chance to tie the game up on a final drive.
Kap marched the 49ers down the field and converted a tough fourth and 6 to extend the drive.
Penalties continued to haunt the 49ers, and a delay of game penalty put the 49ers in a tough third and long that they were unable to convert.
Kap had one final chance on a fourth and 9 , but couldn’t complete a pass to Crabtree and the 49ers would turn the ball over on downs with no timeouts.
Final score 28-20, Bears.
Kaepernick finished the game completing 21 of 34 passes for 248 yards and threw for one touchdown. He added 66 rushing yards on 9 carries, but threw three interceptions and fumbled once.
“I think (Kap) was seeing things good,” said Harbaugh. “Threw some pretty darn good balls that got intercepted… Tip your cap to the defense.”
Kap didn’t have quite as good of things to say about his play, describing it in one word: “Terrible.”
Turnovers and penalties — the 49ers committed 16 penalties, including 10 in the first half — haunted the 49ers all night.
Kaepernick was called for an “inappropriate language” penalty following one of his interceptions. The NFL has stated that referees would not prohibit certain words, but would call penalties for inappropriate language.
“I didn’t say anything,” said Kaepernick about the penalty.