Matt Barkley lost Sunday’s game but won, at least, some Monday-morning respect.
“Probably much like all his teammates and all the coaches, I think our confidence level is a little bit higher now,” Bears coach John Fox said.
Barkley played so well — he completed 28-of-54 attempts for 316 yards — that Willie Young asked Monday if he was drafted high. Barkley wasn’t, eschewing a likely first-round designation after his junior year to return to USC, injure his shoulder and be taken by the Eagles with the first pick of the 2013 fourth round.
Young smiled when he heard that Barkley, like the outside linebacker himself, was no bonus baby.
“Just to have him out there, man, and competing, battling — every pass that I saw him throw, he threw it with 110 percent confidence,” the outside linebacker said. “I didn’t see any hesitation.”
Big-picture, Barkley might offer the Bears little more than an increased chance to defeat the one-win 49ers on Sunday — and that would hurt the team’s odds of drafting above San Francisco.
Short-term, though, him serving as a functional quarterback will allow the Bears to evaluate their spate of young players: tight ends Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker, receiver Marquess Wilson running back Jordan Howard — and even the offensive line.
Barkley, who started because Jay Cutler hurt his right shoulder last week, wasn’t sacked Sunday despite attempting the third-most passes in team history.
Fox said right tackle Bobby Massie’s return from a concussion helped, and left tackle Charles Leno blocked better than he had the week before.
“Some of it was Matt’s doing,” he said, “and some of it was our protection.”
Barkley had an 86.9 passer rating when blitzed, according to Pro Football Focus.
“I thought he hung in there pretty good, because be got whacked pretty good on some good throws,” Fox said. “He wasn’t intimidated by it.”
Fox lauded how Barkley handled failure on the sideline. And there was plenty in the first three quarters, including an end-zone interception and another in the red zone.
And his teammates, of course, dropped 10 passes, including two potential game-winners in the end zone on the Bears’ four plays.
Barkley comforted Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson afterward.
“He just kept coming — he never lost composure or anything like that,” Howard said. “Never complained about anything, about any of the drops. He just told us, ‘Keep going and make the next play.’”