Mitchell Trubisky threw one TD pass and the Chicago defense used a couple of key late stops to keep San Francisco out of the end zone, leading the Bears to their eighth win in nine games, 14-9 over the 49ers on Sunday.
Khalil Mack and Co. delivered again. Danny Trevathan made a key interception with San Francisco (4-11) driving in the fourth quarter, and then the defense made one more stop to clinch at least the third seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bears (11-4) can earn a first-round bye with a win in the season finale and a loss by the Rams.
The game turned feisty in the fourth quarter when San Francisco safety Marcell Harris hit Trubisky after he started sliding on a scramble near the Bears' bench. Trubisky's teammates took exception to what they considered a ''dirty'' hit and a scuffle ensued with punches being thrown and San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman and Chicago receivers Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller all getting ejected.
Shortly after the melee, the Bears converted a fourth-and-1 sneak by Trubisky from their own 35 with 4:19 to go. After the 2-minute warning, Chicago appeared ready to ice the game on a third-down completion to Allen Robinson. But instead of going down to allow the Bears to run out the clock, Robinson kept running and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Tarvarius Moore.
Greg Mabin recovered at the San Francisco 24 with 1:52 to play, but the Niners were unable to convert when Nick Mullens threw a deep incompletion to Marquise Goodwin on fourth-and-4 from the Chicago 45 instead of scrambling for the first down.
The Bears struggled to do much offensively all game but managed a TD drive on their final possession of the second quarter and first of the third quarter.
Trubisky capped the first with a 4-yard pass to Miller and then completed all seven passes on a 90-yard drive that took 7:43 and ended when Howard scored on a 2-yard run that made it 14-9. He finished 25 of 29 for 246 yards, with his 86.2 completion percentage the best mark for the franchise since at least 1950 with a minimum of 16 attempts.