Five Bears To Watch: Week 13 vs. San Francisco

Five Bears To Watch: Week 13 vs. San Francisco
The Bears and 49ers meet on Sunday afternoon. Here's five players to watch, pictured from top to bottom: Linebacker Shea McClellin, tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive end Willie Young, cornerback Tracy Porter, center Hroniss Grasu.

The Bears are as healthy as they can be at this point as they head into a big matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. If they can win their second game in a row, the Bears will find themselves at .500 for the first time this season (6-6) and in the thick of things in the NFC playoff race.

After suffering a foot injury on the final play of Wednesday’s practice, wide receiver Marquess Wilson has officially been ruled out. He sat out Thursday and Friday’s practice sessions and now that means the likes of Josh Bellamy, Cameron Meredith and possibly kick returner Deonte Thompson will soak up the snaps opposite Alshon Jeffery.

Speaking off another key wide receiver, Eddie Royal (knee) again failed to practice this week and is in jeopardy of missing his fifth straight game dating back to the Week 9 Monday Night Football matchup in San Diego. Despite not practicing, he’s listed as questionable which is progress after being be ruled out the last four weeks.

Also questionable are defensive tackle Bruce Gaston (illness), safety Antrel Rolle (knee) and tight end Zach Miller (rib).

Perhaps the biggest news is Pernell McPhee’s ability to put together a full practice on Friday after being limited the past two days again with a nagging knee injury. The Bears need their best pass rusher to make plays. He’s without a sack over his last three games after generating five and an interception from Week 3 to Week 8.

Tight end Martellus Bennett and running back Ka’Deem Carey are both fully healthy after missing last week’s Thanksgiving night game against rival Green Bay.

With all that being said, here are the five Bears to watch as they return home to host San Francisco.

Linebacker Shea McClellin

Since returning after a three-game absence due to a knee injury in Week 10, fourth-year inside linebacker Shea McClellin has 24 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. 15 of those tackles have been solo stops.

The Bears’ run defense hasn’t been very good over the last few weeks allowing an average of 173.5 yards on the ground against Denver and Green Bay. Both Denver’s Ronnie Hillman and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy have topped the 100-yard mark against them in Week 11 and 12.

On the season, the Bears are allowing the fourth-most rushing yards per game (128.5). Luckily, they face a 49ers rushing attack that is averaging 86.3 yards since former Bears Shaun Draughn replaced an injured Carlos Hyde in the backfield three games ago. Regardless, McClellin needs to help slow down the run because the defensive line hasn’t as of late.

Tight end Martellus Bennett

Despite missing last week’s game due to a ribs injury, tight end Martellus Bennett is still the receptions (50) and targets (76) leader among the Bears’ pass catchers. He’s just ahead of Alshon Jeffery for now.

Even though he’s been overshadowed by Zach Miller as of late, Bennett is a crucial part of the offensive gameplan in both the run and passing game. He needs to prove that he can be a building block beyond this season with just one-year left on his deal.

After admitting he chose not to watch the Packers game when he was at home on Thanksgiving, Bennett can shut everyone up with his play. The Bears need him badly with the wide receiver group beaten up. Expect him to have a good day.

Defensive end/linebacker Willie Young

With increased snaps as of late, Willie Young has been on the rise. Call him an outside linebacker, but he’s really a defensive end which is what he wants to be listed at.

The 30-year-old NC State product has made a big play in each of the last three games with a sack over the last two and his first career interception the week prior against St. Louis. It appears his snaps will diminish a little this week with Pernell McPhee close to 100 percent again. Regardless, Young along with Lamarr Houston are proving to be reliable playmakers as the season progresses.

Cornerback Tracy Porter

Since taking over as a full-time starter in Week 4 against Oakland, veteran cornerback Tracy Porter has recorded a pass breakup in all but two games. Interestingly enough, both of those games were losses (Week 6 against Detroit and Week 11 against Denver).

After reeling in his first interception in two years last week, Porter is really starting to be a consistent playmaker. He had a season-high four pass deflections in that big win at Lambeau Field. Expect him to have another nice outing against a shaky quarterback in Blaine Gabbert.

Center Hroniss Grasu

Hroniss Grasu made his fourth career start and second straight start last Thursday against Green Bay. It hasn’t been a consistent season for the rookie center. He still needs to add weight to be more powerful at the second level.

His football IQ is helping him be a starter, but he needs to get better over these final five regular season games. He’s been shaky at best and the Bears want him to be the cornerstone in the middle for years to come.

Thoughts on Sunday’s NFC clash between the 49ers and Bears? Make sure to comment below.

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