No. 1: … It Will Come Off the Leg of Kicker Robbie Gould
Last year when these two teams met, veteran kicker Robbie Gould (no stranger to Bears fans either) made all five of his field-goal tries and gave the 49ers all 15 of their points scored. And after delivering the overtime game winner versus Seattle last week, why not make him the hero again?
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The Niners can win this game if it’s a low-scoring affair. Chicago’s defense is simply too good for any possible San Francisco second-half comeback, meaning the aforementioned holding of Tarik Cohen to less than 100 yards is vital. So is keeping Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in check, hopefully forcing a turnover and eliminating the 49ers’ own issues with ball security.
Despite not being perfect in these categories against the Seahawks last week, the Niners were still in position to win the game late. And win they did.
If scoring is at a premium, Gould can get his chances late in the game to convert on a would-be field goal. After all, the Bears have averaged just 22.8 points scored per game the last five weeks, while the 49ers have managed 18.8 over that same span. Being at home, though, the Niners could stand a slightly better margin, making that differential seem nowhere near as daunting.
Perhaps in the three-point range, where a timely late field goal would make all the difference.
So, if you’re betting money on a San Francisco upset (don’t, by the way), look for this to be the final X-factor.
The 49ers and Bears kick off on Sunday, Dec. 23 at 4:05 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.