Programming note: Watch 49ers Press Conference Live today at Noon on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, or streaming live right here.
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears was a night of mostly negative storylines for the home team in its Levi’s Stadium regular-season debut.
But if you look hard enough, there were some positives, too.
1) Run defense: In the season-opening victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers got pushed around up front.
DeMarco Murray rushed for 118 yards on 22 carries. That prompted some questions about whether the defensive front was vulnerable.
The 49ers completely put the clamps on Bears running back Matt Forte, who gained just 21 yards on 12 rushing attempts.
In fact, the biggest gain of the game came when quarterback Jay Cutler broke out of the pocket for a 25-yard scramble.
2) Third tight end: During the offseason program, teammates raved about the athleticism of tight end Derek Carrier.
He got a chance on Sunday night when backup Vance McDonald exited with a right knee injury.
Carrier stepped up with three receptions for 41 yards to give the 49ers more production in the pass game than they’ve gotten at any point from McDonald, a second-round 2013 draft pick.
The 49ers could lean more on Carrier with tight end Vernon Davis’ status in question due to a left ankle sprain.
Davis is scheduled for further observation on Monday after leaving Sunday’s game with 10 minutes remaining. Davis was on crutches afterward.
3) Veterans step up: The 49ers’ defense allowed just 216 total yards, and three players with vast NFL experience helped lead an effort that was mostly positive on Sunday night.
Patrick Willis had a game-high eight tackles with a pass defensed. And Justin Smith recorded the 49ers’ only sack, a couple of quarterback hurries and a tackle for loss.
Also, the offseason pickup of veteran safety Antoine Bethea is looking good. Bethea has been solid close to the line of scrimmage (five tackles) as well as in coverage (one pass breakup).