Week 11: Chicago Bears At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackJay Cutler took a shot to the head against the Houston Texans in Week 10 and was forced out of the game with a concussion. It seems likely that Jason Campbell will get the start for him. Campbell did not look comfortable against the Texans, but with a week of practice he should be able to throw accurate short- and medium-range passesAlex Smith also took a head shot and was forced out of the Rams game with a concussion. He may be able to start against the Bears, but if he can’t go athletic Colin Kaepernick will get the start. While Kaepernick can run and has been effective in the Wildcat role, he looked somewhat shaky when he had to take over for the accurate Smith.
- OffenseMatt Forte is the Bears’ best all-around offensive player, but he has not been getting the ball enough this year. Forte is an effective runner and receiver and he needs to be featured more by Chicago if the Bears are going to improve their overall offensive play. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been a very effective go-to receiver, but the Bears miss rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery (hand) who has missed four games.Frank Gore is a difference-making running back. Like the Minnesota Vikings with Adrian Peterson, the Niners want to feature their running attack and use the passing game to relieve some of Gore’s burden. Wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Marion Manningham along with tight end Vernon Davis are solid targets for the Niners quarterbacks.
- DefenseThe Bears’ defense has been superb this season. They rank fifth overall in yards allowed, but the Bears have scored seven defensive touchdowns and they are a threat to break any game open with their ability to return interceptions. Cornerback Charles Tillman and outside linebacker Lance Briggs have both scored two touchdowns. Defensive end Julius Peppers is double-teamed on every play.The Niners are also a sensational defensive team. Patrick Willis is a brutal hitter from the middle linebacker spot while outside linebacker NaVorro Bowman has a team-high 81 tackles. Speedy outside linebacker Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the league. He has 9.5 sacks heading into Week 11.
- Special TeamsRobbie Gould is one of the best field goal kickers in the league. He has made 18-of-21 field goal attempts this season, including 2-of-2 from 50 yards and beyond. The Bears are waiting for Devin Hester to break free and give them a touchdown return or two.The Niners are ordinary on special teams. David Akers may have one of the strongest legs in the league, but he has been erratic this season. He has made just 15-of-21 FG attempts. Andy Lee is a good directional punter who has dropped 20 of 37 punts inside the 20.
The Niners have dropped a home game to the Giants and were forced to settle for a tie at home by the Rams. Head coach Jim Harbaugh wants dominance at home and he wants to show the Monday night audience that his team is Super Bowl worthy. With Cutler likely on the sidelines, the Bears will not be at their best for this game and could be in trouble unless the defense overwhelms the Niners.