SAN FRANCISCO – In a game billed as the battle of the backup quarterbacks, Jason Campbell and the Chicago Bears were shut down Monday night by a dominant San Francisco defense in a 32-7 loss that dropped the Bears into a tie with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North.
The Bears' record fell to 7-3 while the 49ers improved to 7-2-1. The Packers also are 7-3 and at present own the tiebreaker by virtue of their Week 2 victory over the Bears. Next up for the Bears is a home game against Minnesota at noon Sunday.
"We're disappointed in this loss, but it does count as just one loss," coach Lovie Smith said. "We're a 7-3 team right now with a big game coming up against Minnesota."
Asked about Campbell, Smith said, "Nobody did well tonight, or played well. Jason was just a part of that."
The Bears trailed 20-0 at halftime as 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, subbing for the injured Alex Smith, looked like a polished veteran in his first NFL start. On the night, Kaepernick connected on 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 133.1.
Meanwhile, Campbell – filling in for Jay Cutler, who remained in Chicago while recovering from a concussion – struggled all night. He finished 14 of 22 for 107 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions for a passer rating of 52.7.
Asked about Cutler's status for the Minnesota game, Smith said it was "looking good."
Campbell said he was disappointed with the outcome but remained hopeful.
"This wasn't what we prepared for all week, to come out with this performance," Campbell said. "We just have to pick things up next week ... we've got a lot of work to do. Tonight was just one of those nights. ... It definitely wasn't our best effort. We have to use this as a wakeup call."
A brutal night for Campbell got even worse early in the fourth quarter when he fumbled and Bears lineman Chilo Rachal recovered, but was tackled while trying to swat the ball out of the end zone. It resulted in a safety and a 32-7 lead for the 49ers.
Late in the third quarter, Campbell was intercepted by 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. That set up a 32-yard field goal by David Akers that extended San Francisco's lead to 30-7 with 11:46 to play in the game.
On the Bears' next series, Campbell was sacked for the fifth time, with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith getting a half-sack on the play for 4.5 on the night.
More bad news: Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery was ruled out for the game with a knee injury in the third quarter. It was Jeffery's first game back from a broken hand suffered in Week 5.
Campbell finally produced a bright spot when he hit Brandon Marshall on a 13-yard scoring pass with 3:43 to go in the third quarter to bring the Bears to within 27-7, and that was the score entering the final period. It capped a 13-play, 74-yard drive.
But Marshall had only two catches and was targeted just four times.
Second-year man Kaepernick, meanwhile, had the San Francisco offense humming. His 10-yard touchdown toss to Michael Crabtree on the 49ers' first possession of the third quarter extended their lead to 27-0 over the befuddled Bears with 11:12 to play in the period.