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Bears Vs 49ers: Six-Pack Keys to Victory

With the Bears taking on a pretty good team on Sunday night, we offer six keys for the Bears to head to New York at 1-1.

Jonathan Daniel

1) His Name is Matt Forte

It's not too often a team could start the second game of the season without three of their top four receivers (pending the actual decision of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Josh Morgan playing or not playing). But in situations when that happens, the weapons that you do have need to be there. Matt Forte had a strong game against Buffalo - 25 touches for 169 combined yards and very nearly a touchdown that was just poked away from him, his only incompletion on an otherwise very good day. And the Niners did give up 127 yards rushing to the Cowboys with 3 DeMarco Murray receptions for 25 yards.

2) Justin Smith and the Blitz

So we've talked in past years about the blitzing 3-4 eating the lunches of the Bears' offensive line and stealing Jay Cutler's helmet. This year, with the improved pass protection of yesteryear, now it's looking at defensive tackle Justin Smith against Brian de la Puente, Michael Ola and Kyle Long, depending on which way he goes. That's two guys starting the year as backups and last year's first round pick. And with the propensity to blitz, the Bears might try to keep Matt Forte in more on passing downs - or could we see the two-back set with Ka'Deem Carey or Shaun Draughn to allow Forte to run a pattern?

(Forgive the first sentence. I like to see who's paying attention.)

3) Oh right, the Niners can run, too.

They can, can't they. So what are the Bears' best chances to stop it? Well, apart from a couple of big runs caused by perfect gaps (and in some cases missed assignments and missed tackles), the Bears did a decent job. That being said, if there are enough run attempts, eventually there will be big plays - and with the power and misdirection the Niners employ, between Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde and Colin Kaepernick, the Niners can break their share. When they get there, Bears' defenders need to make tackles, and can't afford to give up extra yardage.

4) Less mistakes, please.

Yes, it's a plea. Throws to defensive tackles, fumbles after the catch - that's not how you win a football game. And those silly drive-extending penalties, too. Jay Cutler played some smart football last year; last week was not his smartest game.

5) Make Your Money

Arguably, the one of the Bears' big defensive line additions that played on Sunday was Willie Young. The Bears need more from Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen - and in this game, Houston should get plenty of opportunities to stop the run.

6) Beware Kaepernick's Legs as Well as his Arm

Kaepernick can throw; he can also run the ball pretty well, as soon as he sees an end crash inside and break containment. (Sound familiar? It should - EJ Manuel got a touchdown off Allen diving inside.) The defensive tackles will need to create some pass-rush and run-contain up the middle so the ends don't have to try to make inside moves and give the tackles the easy angle on a Kaep-Escape.