It will be a matchup that will spark vivid memories as the Chicago Bears travel to San Francisco this Sunday to take on the 49ers. Following their division-clinching win against the Packers last Sunday, the Bears will look to improve their seeding for the NFC Playoffs.
The 49ers will look to upset their third consecutive opponent at home. Here are five Keys to victory for the Bears against the 49ers.
December shutouts in San Francisco becoming a Holiday tradition for the Bears
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a bounce-back game against the Packers last week as he completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdown passes. Head coach Matt Nagy will look for his second-year quarterback to have a second good performance against the 49ers. The Bears, in their last four December games in San Francisco, have been extremely bad as they have been shutout in three of the four games dating back to 1987.
The main constant to the shutouts has been the play of their quarterbacks. Their last December game in San Francisco came back in 2000 when Cade McNown threw for just 73 yards and the Bears failed to run a play in 49ers territory the entire game.
Spread the holiday playing time around for everyone
Although the starters are expected to play the entire game, Nagy will have to manage his players’ safety to guard against injuries. An injury to a significant player in the last two games would be a crushing blow if the player were to be sidelined for the playoffs.
It could be wise to let some of the reserves see more playing time to avoid injury to starters but to also get reserves ready in case they need to play in the playoffs. It could be to their advantage against the 49ers as they could be expecting the Bears starters to play the entire game and could be thrown off.
Nagy had his reserves play the Kansas City Chiefs starters back in the pre-season and they came out on top.
49ers offense provides a much-needed challenge for the Bears defense before the playoffs
San Francisco’s offense has been in a state of flux throughout the season as they have started three quarterbacks this season. Current starting quarterback Nick Mullens has performed well the last two weeks as he has averaged 303 passing yards and has completed 65 percent of his passes.
With Mullens under center, San Francisco has averaged 20 points per game which is very respectable for a third-string quarterback. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven himself as one of the best offensive minds in the league and will be a great test-run for Vic Fangio’s defense if they have to play high power offenses such as the Rams and Saints on the road in the playoffs.
Stopping George Kittle is a matchup the Bears defense has yet to face this season.
For as great as the Bears defense has been at limiting opposing offenses this year, they have yet to face a team with a premier tight end. Sunday, the defense will have to cover Pro-Bowl tight end George Kittle who leads the league in receiving yards by a tight end with 1154. Kittle has caught four touchdown catches this season and has seven games of 80 receiving yards or more.
The closest the Chicago defense came to playing a dominant tight end was back in week seven when they were to face Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots. Gronkowski missed the game due to a back injury. Covering Kittle will provide invaluable experience for the Bears’ inside linebackers and safeties.
Possible revenge game to keep team motivated
The Bears could be set up for a letdown following two big against the Rams and Packers. There is a lot of motivation for those apart of the Bears organization to win on Sunday. 49ers general manager John Lynch was believed to had fleeced Bears general manager Ryan Pace when he traded up one spot to draft Trubisky second overall in 2017. The Bears quarterback could show why Pace was right for making the trade with quality performance.
Fangio can earn some revenge as the 49ers passed on him in 2015 to replace then head coach Jim Harbaugh. San Francisco chose Fangio’s then-defensive line coach Jim Tomsula instead. Tomsula was fired after one season while Fangio has restored the Bears defense to prominence.
Although the game may mean little, it could provide satisfaction for many on the team keeping them engaged throughout the game.
Special Holiday Note: I want to take the time to thank those who follow Chicitysports.com and our content. This week’s Bears game will be special as many families and friends will most likely be getting together for the holidays and the Bears will most likely be the main source of entertainment for those parties. Enjoy the game with whomever you watch it with, have a festive party, and drive safe! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!