Hey, remember when everybody felt a lot more optimistic about the Bears seven days ago? Now the Bears are 0-1, behind both the Vikings and the Lions, heading into week 2. I'd say the important part is there are fifteen games more to go, and a lot of time to make up that one game. Just eliminate everything that sucked about game one, and do everything that worked well again with no regression whatsoever.
If only it were that simple. The Niners are up next.
Last Year: 12-4, which didn't even win the division. Yeah, the NFC West can be that scary.
This Year: 1-0, after taking Tony Romo and the Cowboys to the woodshed in the first half and never looking back, winning 28-17.
When Last We Met: Colin Kaepernick's debut is about all I should need to say about it, as that invokes the memories of... well, a terrible, terrible Bears game. It prompted this rant, so at least something good came out of it. Anyway, the Niners beat the Bears 32-7 back in 2012 to go to 7-2-1 the week after tying the Rams.
Rankings (New 2014 Version!):
|Total Points||28 (10th)||17 (9th)|
|Total Yardage||319 (23th)||382 (19th)|
|Rushing Yardage||127 (13th)||127 (21st)|
|Passing Yardage||192 (22nd)||255 (21st)|
Offense: In a move that'll make at least one WCGer happy, the Niners released LaMichael James.
But the key parts of the NIners reside more with a strong running game anyway, a strong offensive line, and a decent receiving corps with a couple very good weapons in Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Colin Kaepernick can do some damage with his legs and is also punishing with his arm, and behind him, the Niners supplemented ten-year veteran (and contract-year player) Frank Gore with second round pick Carlos Hyde. In addition to Crabtree, the Niners have twelve-year veteran Anquan Boldin in his second season as a Niner, coming off a nearly-1,200 yard performance with seven touchdowns, and trade acquisition Stevie Johnson, who prior to last season had three straight thousand yard seasons in Buffalo.
On the offensive line, Joe Staley and Mike Iupati have been mainstays on the Niners line - and in fact, all the Niners' starting linemen have been with the team their entire careers.
Defense: The NIners' defense has had an interesting offseason. Ray McDonald could be awaiting the suspension hammer at some point. Glenn Dorsey is on injured reserve/designated for return. Aldon Smith is serving a suspension. NaVorro Bowman is on the PUP list. Chris Culliver suffered a concussion against the Cowboys. Jimmie Ward is also questionable with a concussion - then said he doesn't have a concussion and is cleared to go.
That's okay. They still have Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and Patrick Willis, which still makes their 3-4 defense very formidable (Smith and Brooks combined for the team's three sacks against Dallas). Second year safety Eric Reid had 4 interceptions last year and already has one this year; across from Reid is former Colts safety (and, yes, former Super Bowl champion...) Antoine Bethea, who had six tackles and a pass defended against Dallas.
If the Bears do this: Step one for the Bears will be eliminating those huge mistakes that killed good drives and kept giving the Bills infinite 1-Up Mushrooms. Interceptions and Brandon Marshall's fumble took away huge, sustained drives. And as largely good as the Bears' defense played, one running team in the Bills eventually broke off a couple of big runs; the Niners can and will do the same thing. The gap control that suddenly went missing on those big runs can't go away again.
If the Niners do this: Justin Smith goes against the likely interior of Kyle Long, Brian de la Puente, and Michael Ola - and having picked up two sacks three days ago, he'll be making himself hard to stop. Pass protection in general will be necessary for a line that, while performing pretty well against Buffalo, still had problems with maintaining a clean pocket. Sacks, running the ball, forcing turnovers... There's a lot of ways this could go wrong for the Bears.
Closing Thoughts: The Bears need a rebound game, and the opener of the Niners' new stadium is going to be a hard place to pick that up.