Bears' 41-point first half stands in rout of 49ers

CHICAGO (AP) -- Brian Urlacher's one-handed interception was
headed to the highlight reel as soon as he tumbled to the ground
after somehow batting the ball to himself.

Urlacher's stellar play symbolized what kind of afternoon it was
for the refreshed and still-unbeaten Chicago Bears -- and how
frustrating the day was for the San Francisco 49ers.

Wearing bright orange uniforms and showing their speed on
defense and special teams, the Bears overwhelmed the 49ers from the
outset. They jumped to a 24-0 first-quarter lead and 41-0 halftime
cushion before coasting to a 41-10 victory Sunday.

At 7-0, Chicago is off to its best start since the 1985 Super
Bowl champions won their first 12 games.

"It was amazing. Twenty-four points in the first quarter?
That's pretty impressive, especially in this league. It doesn't
happen a lot," said Rex Grossman, who rebounded from his poorest
performance to throw three TD passes.

Urlacher's acrobatic interception, in which he batted Alex
Smith's pass and then caught it with one hand as he was being
knocked down by the 49ers Justin Smiley, was one of four turnovers
the Bears generated in the first half. All four led to touchdowns.

Urlacher's play came on the heels of a national sports magazine
survey of NFL players in which he was rated the second-most
overrated player to Terrell Owens.

Asked if he had any reaction to the poll, last year's NFL
Defensive Player of the Year said: "No, I don't. Watch the film. I
don't know what people are saying. All I can do is go out there and
play hard and try to help my team win."

Grossman rebounded from a four-interception, two-fumble
performance in a narrow 24-23 win at Arizona before a bye week to
complete 23 of 29 passes for 252 yards against the 49ers' woeful
pass defense.

"I'm just glad I went out and did what the coaches asked me to
do, respond from having a poor game and learn from some of the
mistakes I made and continue to get better," Grossman said.

The 24 first-quarter points set a franchise record for the
opening period and the 41 in the first half tied a mark set in 1948
against Washington.

"At halftime you just think to yourself, 'How did it get out of
control so fast?" said 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young. "It
happened so fast we were just trying to find a way to get it
resolved. ... We have to give ourselves a chance."

San Francisco averted a shutout in the fourth quarter on a
23-yard field goal by Joe Nedney and a 16-yard TD pass from Smith
to Antonio Bryant.

Six plays after Urlacher's interception, Grossman's 5-yard TD
pass to Muhsin Muhammad made it 17-0 and the Bears were on their

How good are they?

"No one expects us to do what we do. No one wants to give us
any credit," Urlacher said. "Everyone wants to say they didn't
play well. There's a reason they didn't play well."

Smith was stripped of the ball in the 49ers' next series, and
Tommie Harris picked it up and ran to San Francisco's 13. That set
up a 1-yard TD by Cedric Benson and a 24-0 lead with a minute to go
in the opening quarter.

"Hopefully I will never have to deal with a halftime coming in
41-0 like that," Smith said. "We talked about it all week. This
is a team that feeds off turnovers, a team that strives off

The Bears had such a comfortable lead they went on fourth down
from the San Francisco 1 early in the second quarter. Grossman
lofted a TD pass to Desmond Clark.

After the Bears took an early 3-0 lead, the 49ers Maurice Hicks
fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Cameron Worrell recovered at the
15, leading to a 7-yard TD run by Thomas Jones.

San Francisco entered giving up 32 points a game, but the
defense wasn't to fault early on because turnovers allowed the
Bears to work from short fields. Drives started at the 15, 41 and
13, and they turned all three into touchdowns to take the big
opening-quarter lead.

The 49ers coughed up the ball a fourth time late in the half
when Bryant caught a pass and fumbled, with Ricky Manning Jr.

Instead of running out the clock, the Bears capitalized again.
Grossman's 27-yard TD pass to a wide-open Clark with 10 seconds
left, which completed a quick four-play, 70-yard drive in just 62

Game notes
The Bears' previous high in points for the first quarter
was 21 on four occasions, the most recent in 1986. .. After gaining
just 43 yards on 11 carries in the previous game, Jones finished
with 111 on 23 carries. He was stopped at the 1 in the third
quarter on a fourth down at the end of a nine-minute drive. ...
Smith finished 16 of 26 for 146 yards. Frank Gore rushed for 111
yards on 12 carries, thanks to a 53-yard run. ... Bears DT Tank
Johnson was forced out in the second half with a shoulder sprain.