CHICAGO (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers believe better days are coming now that they have quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
His first start for them was a promising one.
Garoppolo threw for 293 yards, and Robbie Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal in the closing seconds to lift the 49ers to a 15-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
It was quite a homecoming for Garoppolo, who grew up near Chicago and played at Eastern Illinois.
“You always dream of it as a little kid,” he said. “I can remember ever since I was in elementary school, really. You always have that dream of playing in the NFL. You don’t really know if it’s going to come true or not, but it’s crazy how things work out.”
Garoppolo grew up a Bears fan but never attended an NFL game until he entered the league. His shot at starting comes after he backed up Tom Brady for 3 1/2 years before getting dealt to San Francisco (2-10) at the trade deadline in late October.
He looked good in a cameo at the end of last week’s loss at Seattle, throwing a touchdown on the final play.
Against Chicago (3-9), he completed 26 of 37 passes with an interception. He showed poise on the winning drive, leading San Francisco from its 8.
But it was a sloppy win for the 49ers. They’re going to have to cut down on the penalties and do a better job finishing drives if they’re going to start to string wins together.
That won’t be easy, with the schedule taking a tough turn following next week’s game at Houston. The final three games are against Tennessee, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams.
“We’ve really been trying to emphasize learning how to win,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We haven’t done that much around here lately, and it does take time to learn how to do that.”
: The 49ers came into the game ranked 25th in red zone efficiency. They were 0 for 5 in this game, with penalties hurting them.
“I’ve only been here a short while so it’s going to take a little time but I think overall we’re going in the right direction,” Garoppolo said.