Know your opponent: San Francisco 49ers
After a bad week one loss at home to the Buffalo Bills, the Bears schedule doesn’t get much easier. Instead it gets tougher.
The Bears travel to San Francisco to take on one of the best teams in the NFC and they need a win to get fans off the ledge. Their opponent however is a big obstacle in doing so.
Oh, and that thing the Bears can’t stop called the read-option? Yeah, you will see a lot more of that this week.
San Francisco 49ers
2013 record: 12-4 (Lost NFC Championship Game)
Key returners: Collin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Ahmad Brooks, Patrick Willis
Key newcomers: Jimmie Ward, Stevie Johnson, Antoine Bethea
Key losses: Donte Whitner, Aldon Smith (Suspended), Carlos Rogers
Guest Blog: Niner Noise
Pass DEF: 21st (255 YPG)
Rush DEF: 20th (127 YPG)
Pass OFF: 22nd (192 YPG)
Rush OFF: 11th (127 YPG)
Three Key Players
Vernon Davis; TE
Antoine Bethea; SS
The 49ers are set to officially open their new toy – Levi’s Stadium. The new stadium takes the place of Candlestick Park (Thankfully) where the Bears have not had much luck. But more on that later.
The stadium seats 68,500 and can hold up to 75,000 people. From the looks of it, it’s a pretty impressive stadium. With a price tag of $1.3 billion, it better be impressive.
It’s already hosted two preseason games and seen some turf problems, but the 49ers recently changed the field to a Candlestick-style grass.
It has already been named the host of Super Bowl 50 in 2016, which could see the 49ers as a contender to play in the game. In addition to Super Bowl 50, it will also host these events:
- WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015
- 2015 NHL Stadium Series Game featuring the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
- The San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) will play one game a year at the stadium.
- Will host the PAC-12 Championship Game in December.
Bears bad history in San Francisco
The Bears haven’t won in San Francisco since 1985, losing eight straight in the Bay. But that was at Candlestick and the 49ers are set to open up their new home – Levi’s Stadium.
All-time the Bears are just 12-22 in San Francisco and trail the all-time series 29-32-1.
I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that the Bears will be apart of the opening of a new stadium, but I can say they can change their bad luck and get off to a winning start in the 49ers new home.
The other thing that worries me about the matchup is the primetime slot. The Bears last two trips to San Francisco on primetime have not been good. They were thrashed 32-7 on Monday Night Football in 2012, when Collin Kaepernick made his first ever start and had a career game.
In 2009 the Bears lost 10-6 on Thursday Night Football with Jay Cutler throwing 5 interceptions.
One rookie to make an impact:
The 49ers are banged up in the secondary and a rookie might be asked to step in. Corner back Dontae Johnson could get his first NFL start Sunday night, and may have to do it covering Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
From Niners Noise:
Normally I would say RB Carlos Hyde, but with the injuries to both starting CBs last week, suddenly Dontae Johnson takes over the spotlight. Last week he went up against Dallas, whose got a pretty good combo at WR, and he played well. At 6’2, he can physically matchup with Marshall and Jeffrey. It will be interesting to see how the rookie fares on Sunday Night if he indeed gets his first NFL start.
The 49ers are banged up in the secondary, leaving them vulnerable to the Bears passing attack. If there was one weakness in this 49ers team, this is it. This is where the Bears need to take advantage and exploit the secondary.
Rookie Dontae Johnson is expected to get his first NFL start and with that comes the challenge of matching up with the Bears physical receivers. Chris Culliver did practice with a no-contact jersey, but his status remains questionable.
While Culliver dealt with a concussion, the starting cornerback opposite of him is dealing with a sprained toe. Tramaine Brock missed his second consecutive practice after he left last weeks game against Dallas.
With their two starting cornerbacks out, the 49ers now turn to their backups to matchup with this Bears offense.
Can the 49ers jump on the Bears early?
The 49ers offense could be a big problem for the Bears defense on Sunday. If the 49ers jump out early on the Bears, it likely will be a long day.
The niners feature a read-option threat that has given the Bears problems in the past. With Kaepernick, Hyde and Gore in the backfield the Bears must fill their gaps and contain on the outside.
But the read-option isn’t the only threat in the 49ers offense. Their West Coast style lets them air it out with talented receivers like Crabtree, Davis and Stevie Johnson.
Here’s what Niners Noise thinks the 49ers have to do to be successful:
The 49ers have to do to Chicago what they did to Dallas, jump on them early. On the 49ers first two scoring drives, they ran all pass plays, and that’s important. They’ve got so many weapons now that they can open up a defense through the air, which is the true nature of the West Coast Offense.
One thing to know about the 49ers?
From Niners Noise:
Contrary to popular belief, the 49ers aren’t finished. They are very much alive and very much a Super Bowl contender. And I’m not saying this because we beat Dallas, I’m saying that this team is well built. Aldon Smith is out, so in enters Dan Skuta (who forced a fumble that was returned for a TD). Down go both starting CBs, in enter Perrish Cox and Dontae Johnson, who held Dez Bryant and the Cowboy passing attack in check the entire game. That’s impressive.
Keep an eye on…
The second year safety had four interceptions last season and had one against the Cowboys in week one. He’s already shown veteran characteristics and leadership which is huge for the 49ers defense. He was appointed the 49ers NFLPA representative which shows maturity and leadership that translates to his game on the field.
Reid is the future of the 49ers defense and should be someone to lookout for in this weeks game.
Can the Bears offense give the 49ers problems?
While the Bears pose a threatening offensive attack, their running attack could be what decides the game for both teams. Last week the 49ers looked to shut down the Cowboys air attack but the run game started to burn the 49ers a little bit.
The Bears have one of the best running backs in the NFL who is a threat in the receiving and rushing game. Forte will be a big threat to the 49ers defense and can exploit it.
Here’s what Niners Noise says:
Yes of course. Dallas ran all over the 49ers last week, but I also believe their game plan was to stop the air raid rather than the ground game, and that should be the same plan on Sunday night, which means Chicago could see a lot of rushing yards. If Chicago can limit the turnovers, it could be a very close game.
Last week it seemed like the Bears went away from Forte late in the game only getting him 17 carries. This week the plan has to be different. Forte has to touch the ball more and be more effective in the offense.