Chicago Bears RB Howard, O-line see success against 49ers

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) heads easily into the end zone Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) heads easily into the end zone Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/4/2016 6:49 PM

A testament to the Bears offensive line and rookie running back Jordan Howard was their ability to successfully pound the ball on the ground even when the 49ers knew it was coming.

"Even though they might know the run is coming, they still have to stop it," said Howard, who had 117 of the Bears' 142 rushing yards on 32 carries (3.7-yard average). "It's the best man wins."

 

It was the fifth 100-yard game for Howard, a fifth-round pick out of Indiana, and his 3 touchdowns were a personal best and the most by a Bears running back since Matt Forte did it more than three years ago.

"The offensive line got great push, like they always do," Howard said. "The tight ends and receivers were making great plays in the run game and the passing game."

The O-line turned the compliments back toward to 6-foot, 222-pound Howard, who now has 883 rushing yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

"He's an impressive young man," said rookie center Cody Whitehair, who has started every game this season. "He runs the ball hard, gets every inch and, even when the holes aren't there, he still makes things happen, as you could see on the goal line."

Howard wore custom cleats to honor the memory of his father Reginald, who died of pulmonary fibrosis, and to bring attention to the disease.

"It meant a lot to honor my father and the pulmonary fibrosis organization and a lot of other people who have the disease," Howard said. "I definitely had my dad out there with me in spirit."

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Up front counts:

The offensive line paved the way for 142 rushing yards and allowed just 1 sack, as one-time backups continued to play well.

Ted Larsen started in place of three-time Pro Bowl pick Kyle Long (IR) for the third straight week at right guard. Eric Kush started for three-time Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton (ankle) for the second straight week and the fourth time in six weeks.

When center Cody Whitehair (ankle) was sidelined for a couple plays in the second half, Kush moved to center and Sitton filled in at left guard.

"It's been a lot of fun getting in there, getting an opportunity," said Kush, who had one previous start in two NFL seasons. "That's all you can ask for, keep working hard to get an opportunity and you try to seize it."

Kush, a Pennsylvania native, was originally a sixth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs out of D-II California (Pa.)

"I'm just trying to work hard and show the guys coming out of small schools, or that guy living on Presley Road back home in Pennsylvania, keep working hard," he said. "You'll get a shot and take advantage of that shot."

By the numbers:

The Bears have run the ball 29 times or more in just three games this season, and they're 3-0 in those games. They ran 29 times for 114 yards in the 17-14 victory over the Lions, 29 times for 158 yards while upsetting the Vikings, and 40 times for 142 yards Sunday. … The Bears' 26 points were a season high and just the fourth time this year they've scored more than 17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sitting it out:

Wide receiver Marquess Wilson suffered a groin injury in the first half and did not return.

Sunday inactives were quarterback Jay Cutler (shoulder), wide receiver Eddie Royal (toe), cornerbacks De'Vante Bausby and Deiondre' Hall (ankle), safety Adrian Amos (foot), offensive lineman Cornelius Edison and defensive end Jonathan Bullard, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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