Bears hardworking left guard Chilo Rachal is no craft dodger
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org November 17, 2012 7:44PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 3:57PM
It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, cold or raining. Bears starting left guard Chilo Rachal can be seen going through sets and running through his footwork well after practice ends.
Rarely a day goes by that Rachal isn’t the last player to leave the practice field at Halas Hall.
“I’m just trying to master my craft,” Rachal said. “This is my first year playing left guard. I want to be one of the best left guards in the game. I believe you’ve got to put the work in.”
This is a homecoming week of sorts for Rachal. He signed a one-year deal with the Bears after playing his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him in the second round in 2008 after a stellar career at USC.
In his first three seasons, Rachal started 35 of the 39 games he appeared in before falling down the depth chart in 2011. He started only three games last season, the final year of his rookie contract.
Rachal won’t call Monday’s game one he has circled. If anything, he’s doing his best to downplay what the game might mean personally, saying it’s “another good team on the schedule.”
Rachal played right guard for the 49ers, so admittedly there has been an adjustment.
“It’s a lot like riding a bike, but putting a different hand down,” Rachal said. “I’m left-handed, but I’ve been playing right guard my whole career. When I got here and was actually in a left-hand stance, I felt comfortable. It’s just feet patterns [that are different].”
So what’s he focusing on after practice? “I’m just working on sets and my hands,” Rachal said. “I’m working at one thing at a time. Once I get that mastered, then I’m going to move on. I’m trying to master my pass sets.”
In general, the Bears’ offensive line has been a work in progress. They’ve endured plenty of criticism, while the 49ers’ group is often praised.
“We really don’t pay much attention to the criticism because people are going to have something to say about every offensive lineman,” Rachal said. “That’s the least respected position, in my opinion.
“It’s us together. If we stick together, we’ll be all right.”
Rachal made his Bears debut against the Green Bay Packers and made his first start a week later against the St. Louis Rams. He has started every game since.
Always considered a solid run- blocker, Rachal has helped maintain an underrated rushing attack that’s ranked ninth. Coach Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers has taken notice of his former lineman.
“I wouldn’t say there was a decision not to re-sign him,” Harbaugh said. “Chilo was looking for a different situation.
‘‘He’s done a fabulous job. Watching him on tape, he’s been very consistent for Chicago, and [I’m] really pleased he’s doing well. I’ve always liked him. He always was one of my personal favorites on the team. I recognize he’s doing a good job.”