suntimes
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

THE MATCHUP: BEARS VS. 49ERS

Chicago Bears  HoustTexans players prepare for play line scrimmage first half an NFL football game Chicago Sunday Nov. 11

Chicago Bears and Houston Texans players prepare for a play at the line of scrimmage in the first half an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

storyidforme: 40340443
tmspicid: 14887272
fileheaderid: 6728878

BEARS AT 49ERS

Time: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Candlestick Park.
TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters).
Radio: 780-AM, 105.9-FM. • Line: 49ers by 61/2.

STAFF PICKS

RICK MORRISSEY

17-10

Season: 8-1

DAN McGRATH

27-10

Season: 6-3

Adam L. Jahns

20-17

Season: 4-1

RICK TELANDER

21-19

Season: 8-1

SEAN JENSEN

16-13

Season: 6-3

MARK POTASH

13-10

Season: 7-2

X-FACTOR

Both teams will be starting either their No. 2 QB or a starter coming off a concussion. Jay Cutler usually struggles off an injury, at least at the outset. Jason Campbell is a quality starter but coming in cold as a No. 2 is not the same thing. If Campbell starts, it still might work to the Bears’ advantage if they’re committed to establishing a running game. But on the road in a prime-time game vs. one of the best defenses in football, the best-laid plans can fall apart quickly.

SPECIAL TEAMS

What was once a luxury is becoming a necessity against playoff-caliber teams — the Bears could use points from Devin Hester. Though Hester had a 24-yard punt return vs. the Texans, he’s not in that groove that makes him a threat to score every time. Randall Cobb had a 75-yard punt-return TD vs. the 49ers in Week 1. The Bears’ coverage units — which rank third in the NFL in both punts and kickoffs — will be tested vs. the 49ers’ Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

ON THE GROUND

Establishing a running game against the 49ers’ stout defense will be the big challenge for the Bears after the Texans shut down Matt Forte (16-39, 2.4) last week. Forte, who had averaged 4.0 ypc or better in each game before facing the Texans, didn’t have a lot of room to run and didn’t make much out of nothing like he normally does. A little change of pace might not hurt against a 49ers defense that is 7th in the NFL vs. the run. Michael Bush had only 2 carries after fumbling on an 11-yard gain on his first carry. FB Evan Rodriguez could play a more prominent role in the run game.

KEY MATCHUP

Willis is a 5-time Pro Bowl player. He can be blocked, though, and it’ll be up to the interior of the Bears’ line — including Rachal, an ex-49er — to occupy Willis and give Matt Forte room to run.

IN THE AIR

The Bears are more confident with Jason Campbell replacing Jay Cutler, but Campbell is in a tough spot against a defense that ranks 5th against the pass and 4th in opponents’ passer rating despite having only six INTs and 17 sacks. A key factor will be Campbell’s ability to make plays out of the pocket — a necessity vs. the 49ers’ disciplined, well-tackling defense. Campbell threw a 45-yard pass to Brandon Marshall last week, but it’s imperative that other WRs produce. The return of Alshon Jeffery should help. For what it’s worth, TEs have caught 4 of the 8 passing TDs vs. the 49ers.

WHEN THE 49ERS HAVE THE BALL

ON THE GROUND

It’ll be strength vs. strength as the Bears’ 4th-ranked run defense tries to contain the 49ers’ top-ranked rushing offense. RB Frank Gore (140-753, 5.4, 5 TDs) is still one of the best in the NFL behind a workmanlike offensive line that includes Pro Bowl LT Joe Staley and RT Anthony Davis (acquired with a draft pick the Bears traded to the Broncos for Jay Cutler). The 49ers aren’t easily deterred, averaging 30 carries per game. Neither team does anything too fancy in the run game, but the Bears might have to get inventive against a 49ers offense that is good at what it does.

KEY MATCHUP

It all starts up front, and the Bears need Peppers to win this matchup of Pro Bowl linemen. Staley is equally adept in pass protection and the run game. Peppers is known for his sack totals but also is one of the best vs. the run.

IN THE AIR

QB Alex Smith is recovering from a concussion but is expected to play. Without a dynamic passing offense, Smith is third in the NFL in passer rating (104.0), mostly because he isn’t asked to do too much and doesn’t make many mistakes — he completes 70 percent of his passes and has thrown 5 INTs. If Smith can’t go, Colin Kaepernick is more vulnerable to the Bears’ turnover-inducing offense but also is a threat because of his mobility (8-66, 1 TD vs. the Rams). Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are good WRs. But TE Vernon Davis is the biggest threat.

THE 49ERS

Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Record: 6-2-1

Offensive starters

No. Player Pos. Inj.

11 Alex Smith QB Q

15 Michael Crabtree WR

21 Frank Gore RB P

49 Bruce Miller FB

59 Jonathan Goodwin C P

74 Joe Staley OT

75 Alex Boone OT

76 Anthony Davis OT

77 Mike Iupati OG P

84 Randy Moss WR

85 Vernon Davis TE

defensive starters

22 Carlos Rogers CB

25 Tarell Brown CB

31 Donte Whitner S

38 Dashon Goldson S P

52 Patrick Willis LB P

53 NaVorro Bowman LB

55 Ahmad Brooks LB

90 Isaac Sopoaga DT

91 Ray McDonald DT

94 Justin Smith DT

99 Aldon Smith LB

Special teams/
reserves

2 David Akers PK

3 Scott Tolzien QB

4 Andy Lee P

7 Colin Kaepernick QB

10 Kyle Williams WR

17 A.J. Jenkins WR

19 Ted Ginn WR

20 Perrish Cox CB

23 LaMichael James RB

24 Anthony Dixon RB P

26 Tramaine Brock CB

27 C.J. Spillman S

28 Darcel McBath S

29 Chris Culliver CB P

30 Trenton Robinson S

32 Kendall Hunter RB

45 Brandon Jacobs RB

46 Delanie Walker TE

48 Will Tukuafu DT P

51 Clark Haggans LB

54 Larry Grant LB

56 Tavares Gooden LB P

66 Joe Looney G

67 Daniel Kilgore G

68 Leonard Davis G

81 Garrett Celek TE

82 Mario Manningham WR P

83 Demarcus Dobbs TE

86 Brian Jennings TE

93 Ian Williams DT

95 Ricky Jean Francois DT

THE BEARS

Coach: Lovie Smith
Record: 7-2

Offensive starters

No. Player Pos. Inj.

2 Jason Campbell QB

15 Brandon Marshall WR

22 Matt Forte RB

23 Devin Hester WR

48 Evan Rodriguez TE

60 Lance Louis OG

63 Roberto Garza C

62 Chilo Rachal OG

72 Gabe Carimi OT

73 J’Marcus Webb OT

87 Kellen Davis TE

DEFENSIVE starters

21 Major Wright S

26 Tim Jennings CB

33 Charles Tillman CB

47 Chris Conte S

53 Nick Roach LB

54 Brian Urlacher LB

55 Lance Briggs LB

71 Israel Idonije DE

69 Henry Melton DT P

90 Julius Peppers DE

92 Stephen Paea DT

Special teams/
reserves

6 Jay Cutler QB out

8 Adam Podlesh P

9 Robbie Gould PK

12 Josh McCown QB

14 Eric Weems WR

17 Alshon Jeffery WR P

18 Dane Sanzenbacher WR

20 Craig Steltz S

24 Kelvin Hayden CB

25 Armando Allen RB

27 Sherrick McManis CB

29 Michael Bush RB

30 D.J. Moore CB

37 Anthony Walters S

38 Zack Bowman CB

52 Blake Costanzo LB

58 Geno Hayes LB

65 Patrick Mannelly LS

67 Chris Spencer C/G

70 Edwin Williams OG

75 Matt Toeaina DT out

79 Jonathan Scott OT

80 Earl Bennett WR

86 Kyle Adams TE

89 Matt Spaeth TE

91 Amobi Okoye DT

93 Nate Collins DT

95 Cheta Ozougwu LB

97 J.T. Thomas LB

98 Corey Wootton DE

99 Shea McClellin LB out



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.