The last time the Bears faced the 49ers, Jay Cutler tossed four touchdowns in an upset road win, 28-20 in San Francisco early last season.
Fast forward a year and a couple of months and these are two teams that sit below .500 but are clearly headed in different directions.
The 49ers lost a good portion of their core this off-season and are lacking true talent on both sides of the ball with Jim Tomsula taking over the head coaching gig rather than former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is currently holding that position with the Bears.
The Bears, on the other hand, may have been a team that started the season 0-3, but they’ve bounced back. Head coach John Fox has done a lot with very little talent defensively. Winners of five of their last eight games, the Bears’ last three losses have come by a combined eight points. They’ve won three of their last four.
Soldier Field has been friendly to the Bears when they’ve hosted San Francisco. All four matchups this decade have gone the Bears’ way dating back to 2001. The most recent victory came in 2006 when the Bears demolished the 49ers, 41-10.
Regardless of the past, this should be a good one and a game that the Bears know they can win to improve to the .500 mark for the first time this season at 6-6.
Here’s a breakdown of what both teams are thinking heading into Sunday’s 64th all-time meeting.
What the 49ers are thinking
San Francisco has to be thinking about running the football and controlling the clock in this one. In five road matchups this season, the 49ers are 0-5 and have allowed 35.2 points per game. Ouch. With Blaine Gabbert under center and the offense not giving him much help it doesn’t look like it will get much better this week.
Since shocking Minnesota in the home season opener, 20-3, the 49ers have won just two games against Baltimore and Atlanta. That’s certainly nothing to brag about.
Running back Shaun Draughn, a former Bear is the key to the 49ers’ success. They know there is room to run evidenced by the 128.4 rushing yards allowed per game by the Bears’ defense. Carlos Hyde will miss his fifth straight game, so Draughn who hasn’t reached the 100-yard mark will carry the load again. Heading into his fourth start, Draughn has 43 carries for 146 yards and a measly 3.36 yards per carry average over the last three games.
Defensively, San Francisco looks awfully different and so far that hasn’t boded well for them. However, linebacker Navarro Bowman has returned to form with a team-leading 105 tackles along with two sacks. With very little in terms of playmakers outside of Aaron Lynch (6.5 sacks) and Ahmad Brooks (4 sacks), the 49ers could get shredded in pass coverage.
What the Bears are thinking
Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford make a nice tandem out of the backfield. Right? It’s about time offensive coordinator Adam Gase uses the two versatile backs together whether it’s in the backfield or spread out wide. The Bears need as much talent out there on each play with the wide receiver room beat up.
Alshon Jeffery will do his best to carry the passing attack while tight ends Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller should find space in this beatable 49ers defense. Cameron Meredith and Josh Bellamy will see time opposite Jeffery with riser Marc Mariani manning the slot. He’s been a nice surprise.
Defensively, the Bears need to play disciplined and find a way to rattle the shaky Gabbert. Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston are all 100 percent healthy and that could be a scary thing for this revamped Bears’ defense.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller has only one interception this season, but against San Francisco last season, a then rookie Fuller hauled in two picks with Charles Tillman out. Let’s see if Fuller can make more plays today in another favorable matchup. His coutnerpart Tracy Porter has been stepping up each week.
Bears – OUT: Wide receiver Marquess Wilson (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: Defensive tackle Bruce Gaston (illness), tight end Zach Miller (rib), safety Antrel Rolle (knee), wide receiver Eddie Royal (knee)
PROBABLE: Tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs), running back Ka’Deem Carey (concussion), quarterback Jay Cutler (illness), tackle Kyle Long (neck), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee)
49ers– OUT: Tight end Garrett Celek (ankle), running back Carlos Hyde (foot)
PROBABLE: Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (shoulder), tight end Blake Bell (finger), wide receiver Anquan Boldin (hamstring), guard Alex Boone (triceps), linebacker NaVorro Bowman (shoulder/finger), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (toe), defensive tackle Quinton Dial (shoulder), wide receiver Bruce Ellington (wrist), defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie (hip), cornerback Dontae Johnson (hamstring), tackle Erik Pears (knee), cornerback Keith Reaser (ankle), wide receiver Torrey Smith (back), safety Jaquiski Tartt (knee), linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle)
Final Score Prediction
Bears 30, 49ers 13
The Bears can’t overlook San Francisco. This is a must-win game if they want any chance to reach the postseason. Look for Gase to call a good game on offense while Fangio tries to confuse his former team on defense.
Season predictions: (6-5)
Areas of dense morning fog. Partly cloudy skies in the morning will give way to cloudy skies during the afternoon. High 46F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
The Bears play host to first-place Washington next Sunday in a huge NFC matchup.
Read up on the five Bears players you should keep an eye on in Sunday’s game against San Francisco, here.
Thoughts on the Niners-Bears Week 13 matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.
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