The Bears’ most dominant pass defense day in a generation ended appropriately: with Leonard Floyd sacking 49ers backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
“That was excellent,” outside linebacker Willie Young said. “To me, that one play sums up how we’ve played since Week 1. We play extremely hard.”
In his first game back since suffering a concussion and being placed on a back board two weeks ago, the No. 9 overall pick looked undeterred, tying a career high with two sacks and adding a quarterback hit and tackle for loss.
Taking the long view, the rookie outside linebacker’s dominant return after spending two weeks in concussion protocol is a rare piece of fabulous news.
“Once he got used to the speed again, getting back out there, I think he responded well,” coach John Fox said.
How did Floyd feel? He bolted the Bears locker room as reporters entered, and attempts by staff members to get him to return failed. But playing full-bore two weeks after fearing a spinal injury must have been a psychological challenge.
“I think that he’s very intelligent and I think he knows that as a young man in this game there are things that are gonna happen that you don’t have control over and that you don’t necessarily don’t want to happen to you,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “But you have to bounce back and not be afraid to go out there and lay it all our on the field again.”
Floyd’s safety — in which he swam inside of right tackle Trent Brown, who looked to be moving in slow motion — capped a dominant defensive effort.
The Bears allowed six net passing yards, the fewest since giving up -22 to the Falcons in 1985. The 49ers’ five pass completions are the fewest the Bears have allowed since the same franchise had one completion 11 years ago. They contained starter Colin Kaepernick, too, allowing him to run only six times for 20 yards.
Pernell McPhee noticed Floyd was pushing too hard early — “Trying to force himself to make a play,” he said — and told him to relax.
The plays indeed came.
“With Leonard, he a dog, man,” McPhee said, complimenting him. “He’s a headhunter. When he’s out there, he’s playing full speed.
“I hit him one time — me and him collided. I thought I knocked him out and I was like, ‘Are you all right?’ He’s a tough guy, man. He’s a soldier.”