On third-and-five from the 49ers’ 8-yard line, quarterback Mitch Trubisky bluffed.
With his arms outstretched, waiting for the snap toward the end of the first quarter last Sunday, he shouted out a dummy cadence. The goal wasn’t to get the 49ers to jump offside but to get them to tip their coverage. They did.
Safety Adrian Colbert walked five yards toward the line of scrimmage, leaving wide receiver Dontrelle Inman alone against rookie cornerback Greg Mabin. Split left, Inman ran toward the base of the goalpost and caught the pass for a touchdown.
It was a play, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said, that Trubisky wouldn’t have been able to make a month ago. It was a trick he performed well in the second half of a blowout loss the week before in Philadelphia
“He did a good job reading the coverage, reading the leverages of the players and keeping it up,” Loggains said. “And he threw a good ball.”
That’s progress, but it’s also misleading. The throw was the Bears’ only offensive touchdown in the last 125 minutes. Praising a pre-snap subtlety during that stretch is like admiring the heated seats in a car that won’t run.
Trubisky’s expression Wednesday betrayed exasperation due to the team’s struggles — sullen and quiet, not as engaged with the media as in the past.
He said he had to have “unwavering faith” that things would get better.
“People have gone through a lot worse, a lot worse seasons and come out on the other side,” Trubisky said. “You try to look at those success stories. You can just always believe you’ll beat the odds. I’ve done things throughout my life that [people] said couldn’t be done, and I’m standing here today as a rookie in the NFL. Anything’s possible with hard work and dedication.”
Loggains doesn’t believe in a quarterback getting shell-shocked. Still, Trubisky is 2-6 as the Bears’ starter, hasn’t won a game in 45 days and will likely be favored only once in the last four games.
“I think he’s handled it as well as you can handle losing,” Loggains said. “We don’t expect him to handle losing well. No one should handle losing well.
“But there is a process of you have to have enough emotional stability and control where you understand the big picture and you see the big picture. And those nights when you go home, he’s that way, myself and every player and coach in the locker room, every executive, every Chicago Bears fans, it’s miserable.
“I don’t know that you can learn much in losing; I don’t like that statement. But you do learn by going through the process.”
Trubisky, he said, is process-oriented. Loggains will tell him two or three things to improve on at the beginning of each week, knowing he will focus on them for the next six days. Trubisky’s footwork was better Sunday, but he threw short on a free play — the 49ers jumped offside — rather than go deep. Loggains talked to him the minute he reached the sideline.
The Bears were 5-for-10 on third downs — Loggains and coach John Fox pushed Trubisky’s conversion rate as promising — but tried only two passes beyond 10 yards.
For every step forward, though, there’s a rookie mistake. And an accompanying loss.
“If you love the game you’re playing, which we do,” Trubisky said, “it can only get better from here.”
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