Chicago Bears (4-4) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
Bill Walsh Field at Candlestick Park
…5:20 PM (PST)
The 49ers take on the Bears in the second installment of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football. The 49ers will be looking to end their four game losing streak as they face off against a Bears team coming off a blowout loss to the Cardinals at home. The Bears have lost three of the last four games and will look to stay in contention in the NFC North with a win tonight. All eyes will be on the tonight’s contest as it is the lone game being played and most of the NFL nation should be watching, if you have the NFL Network. The only other time the Niners are the only game is December 14 when they play against the Cardinals at home on Monday Night Football. The other story behind tonight’s game is head coach Mike Singletary facing his old team the Bears when he was a player. If you were to ask Singletary he would probably say the game is no different than any other game even if it is against his old team. You have to think in the back of Singletary’s mind he wants to win this game badly not only to end the four game losing streak but to beat his old team.
With a short week and only three days in between games for the 49ers and Bears, tight end Vernon Davis got the trash talking started yesterday saying the 49ers can “destroy” the Bears defensive line: “I think we can destroy their front. I don’t see anything spectacular about their front line.”
Being the team captain Davis was trying to provide motivation to his team suffering through a losing streak. Not that the team needs motivation but the Davis has a point. The Bears defense is not what it has been in past years especially with Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlalcher being out for the season among the other injuries suffered on defense. With the way the Bears played against the Cardinals last Sunday giving up five touchdown passes there is hope for the 49ers passing game. 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye should continue to open up the passing with shotgun and spread formations which is not only good for quarterback Alex Smith but the passing game should be able to gain a lot of yards and put up points on the scoreboard. Smith should have his biggest game of the year. The 49ers will not put up points like the Cardinals did, 41, (come on it is the 49ers we are talking about and they are not playing the Rams), but they should be able to score 30 points. Smith will need to make better decisions than he did against the Titans and limit his turnovers if the 49ers want to win the game. Smith could have a 300 yard passing game with most of the passes will be caught by the tight end Davis who will be covered by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and safety Al Afalava. Afalava is a good cover safety but with the size, speed and agility of Davis he should have over 100 yards receiving and one touchdown. When an offense spreads out its formation it usually means the running back does not get a lot of carries or yards. Raye will never go away from running the football, especially when you have Frank Gore in the backfield, but with the wide receivers spread out and the defense covering, holes will open up for Gore. The best thing Gore has been doing well this season is finding an open hole and running for days to the end zone. With Davis, wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Jason Hill the Bears secondary will be forced to cover the receivers while not blitzing on passing downs. This will help the 49ers offensive line who have struggled this season. The Bears will get their hurries on Smith and this is when he needs to limit his mistakes by throwing to the hot route or check-down option. The Bears defense gives up an average of 119 rushing yards per game this season and Gore will be looking to break that average and should have at least 100 yards rushing as the Bears are struggling to stop the running game.
On the defensive side of the football for the 49ers is where the game could be lost. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had a good passing game against the Cardinals as they had to play catch up the whole game passing for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Devin Hester is becoming a reliable receiver for Cutler and 49ers corner back Tarell Brown will get most of the assignments against Hester. Hester will make his plays but the 49ers need to limit his touchdown passes for them to pull out the win. I say this is because Bears tight end Greg Olsen will continue his great play from last week when he caught three touchdown passes. The 49ers defense for some reason cannot cover tight ends to save their life. They have given up games to Tony Gonzalez, Owen Daniels and Dallas Clark. That will continue with Olsen. Running back Matt Forte will have under 100 rushing yards as the 49ers D have been doing a good job stopping the rush. Another cause of concern for the 49ers is that they have not had a turnover since Dre’ Bly’s interception in week five against the Falcons in which Bly fumbled the football back to the Falcons during the return. Turnovers and the points scored off of them by the defense was partially the reason why the 49ers got off to their 3-1 start. It is no coincidence that the 49ers are 0-4 since their last turnover. For the Red and Gold to win at least one fumble or interception will be needed.
Special Teams might be an issue for the 49ers tonight. The kickoff and punter return rotation has currently fallen to forgotten wide receiver and offseason free-agent signee Brandon Jones on punts and to Michael Robinson on kickoffs to limited success. The Niners offense needs all the help it can get from the return team but has failed to gain any big yards this season in the return game. Where it really could become an issue for the special teams is in the kickoff and punt coverage. Anytime you have Hester returning kickoffs and punts the potential is always there for a touchdown. Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox has taken most of the kickoff returns this season and has one touchdown. The 49ers return coverage needs to be perfect.
Out: CB Nate Clements (shoulder), RB Glen Coffee (concussion), T Joe Staley (knee)
Questionable: WR Isaac Bruce (ankle)
Out: S Kevin Payne (back); LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee); RB Garrett Wolfe (back)
Bears 23 …..49ers 35
The losing streak ends tonight at four 49er Faithful. With the play of the Bears D and with the 49ers playing at home against Singletary’s former team the 49ers will be riding high for a victory and will quickly put points on the board early so in the second half they can avoid having to come back down from a big deficit. There will be a lot of passing in tonight’s game. Alex Smith will have a career game.
Topics: 49ers, 49ers 2009 Season, 49ers Injuries, 49ers Offensive Coordinator, 49ers Quarterback, Al Afalava, Alex Smith, Bears Vs. 49ers Preview, Brandon Jones, Brian Urlalcher, Devin Hester, Dre’ Bly, Frank Gore, GAMEDAY Week 10: Bears Vs. 49ers, Glen Coffee, Greg Manusky, Greg Olsen, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Raye, Josh Morgan, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte, MCT, Michael Crab Holdout, Michael Crabtree, Michael Robinson, Mike Singletary, Nate Clements, Nate Clements (shoulder), Patrick Willis, RB Glen Coffee (concussion), San Francisco 49ers, Scot McCloughan, Shaun Hill, T Joe Staley, Tarell Brown, Vernon Davis