CHICAGO — Bobby Turner loves challenges.

He'd try "Dancing With The Stars" on one foot.

He'd take broth with a fork.

He'd change a flat tire blindfolded.

The East Chicago native didn't blink last offseason when Falcons' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was hired to lead the hapless 49ers and asked Turner to tag along as his running backs coach.

If this monumental challenge were any bigger, you could climb to the top and set up camp.

The 49ers haven't had a winning season since 2013 and had lost 35 of their last 43 games prior to Sunday's 15-14 mild upset of the Bears.

Turner, now in his 45th year of coaching at the college and pro levels, embraced the challenge like a first grandchild.

"I'm a teacher and I love to see young men grow," Turner said. "Yeah, I could've stayed in Atlanta for life. There was a comfort zone. We were just coming off the Super Bowl. I had two great running backs and a daggone good one coming back.

"Football is my passion and I'm still up to it. I loved Denver. I could've stayed there. I loved Washington. I'm excited about where we're going as a franchise."

Turner didn't mull over Shanahan's offer, saying he took it the day after Super Bowl LI.

Five field goals by former Bear Robbie Gould was all the offense San Francisco needed Sunday for only its second win in 12 games. The recent addition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also paid huge dividends during that winning 14-play, 86-yard, 5:23 drive capped by Gould's kick with :04 left.

"Total teamwork. That's what you practice all those hours for," Turner said. "It's no accident those things happen. We put the players through every situation from Day 1 of the season — two-minute drill, four-minute, field goal, whatever we need."

Gould drew loud boos from the frustrated crowd at Soldier Field on each of his five kicks, but do you honestly think he cared?

"To come in here, get a win like that and kick a game winner, I couldn't have written it any better. That one was pretty special for me," Gould said.

Turner gave him a bear hug afterward.

"He talked to the team (Saturday) night. He's a heckuva young man," Turner said. "He plays with heart. He's an emotional player, but in the moment of truth, he came through.

"He was clutch."

So was Jimmy G., throwing for 293 yards.

"He's a leader. The players follow him. He's the face of the franchise," Turner said.

The 49ers kicked off with 17 players on injured reserve. Their top two backs — Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida, had 639 and 231 yards rushing, respectively.

The team has only nine rushing touchdowns.

"There's been some ups and downs but when you're playing from behind, you have to throw the ball," Turner said. "Bottom line is, it's all about team. I don't have any selfish players.

"But overall, regarding their total body of work, I've seen them grow in all aspects as players and people."

There were 8,489 no-shows Sunday and more than 10,000 in the loss to Detroit. Having six games decided by eight points or less and a lame duck coach in John Fox who is 12-32 doesn't help your public relations pitch.

Nor does being out-gained 388-147 in yardage or having the ball 18 minutes less than San Francisco.

"The flight back will seem shorter now. Not only for me but for everyone," Turner said. "But I don't go on an emotional rollercoaster. I don't get so high nor so low.

"I know I'm going to show up for work (Monday). I'm going to be doing the same thing, win or lose — still teaching, still coaching, still trying to get better."

It's the exact formula he used at Indiana State, Purdue, Fresno State and Ohio State before the NFL was fortunate to have him.

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This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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