For those brave enough, or perhaps die hard enough, to actually want to sit through a game between the 1-10 San Francisco 49ers and the 2-9 Chicago Bears, this is the game preview.
Just when the season seems like it’s totally off the rails and that there isn’t a franchise more inept and poorly run than Chicago, here come the San Francisco 49ers.
While the Bears chased off a middling coach with aging players, the 49ers parted ways with a spectacular coach and watched all their good players in their prime retire.
These are two bad franchises that are bereft of talent and they will play a professional football game on Sunday that is watched by tens of people in their local markets and pretty much no one else.
San Francisco 49ers
SB Nation site: Niners Nation
Record: 1-10, last in NFC West
Last week: 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins
Bears all-time record against: 30-30-1 regular season, 0-3 postseason.
Historical match ups: The Bears and Niners had some memorable meetings back in the 1980s when the franchises were in better times. The Bears were blanked by the 49ers in the playoffs following the 1984 season, a loss so embarrassing it ended up being a catalyst for some of the 1985 season. It also was the game that led to Mike Ditka inserting Refrigerator Perry into the offense. The Bears beat them 26-10 in the 1985 season.
In 1988, the Niners “killed” the mythical “Bear weather” by coming to Soldier Field and beating the Bears 28-3 in the NFC Championship Game.
Last meeting: 26-20 overtime loss last December. Blaine Gabbert ran free for a 44-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:42 remaining and then connected with Torrey Smith on a 71-yard touchdown pass on the first play of San Francisco’s second OT possession.
Key injuries: LB Aaron Lynch was limited with an ankle injury, DTs Quinton Dial and Glenn Dorsey were also limited by knee injuries, DL Ronald Blair has a hamstring injury he’s dealing with, Eli Harold was limited with a toe injury. WR Quinton Patton did not participate in Wednesday’s practice while dealing with a concussion. G Zane Beadles (Ankle/knee), C Daniel Kilgore (Hamstring/calf), CB Rashard Robinson (knee) and WR Torrey Smith (shoulder) were all full participants.
Offense: The 49ers enter Sunday’s game with the 28th ranked offense in terms of yards (324.6 per game) and 22nd in points (20.7).
Their rush offense is actually fourth in the league, averaging 126 yards per game while their passing attack is 15th (211.8).
Staying true to the nature of head coach Chip Kelly’s fast paced offensive approach, the 49ers rank dead last in time of possession per game.
The rush attack that Kelly uses is based around Carlos Hyde, who has 594 yards on the year but a lowly 3.9 yards per attempt. Hyde has 714 yards from scrimmage and has seven total touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving). QB Colin Kaepernick remains a threat to run the ball, averaging 8.1 yards per carry with 373 yards and a touchdown on the season in just seven games.
Through the air, Kaepernick’s weapons remain somewhat limited: their led by WR Jeremy Kerley (42 rec./448 yds./3 TDs) followed by Quinton Patton (31/374/0) and tight ends Vance McDonald (22/382/4) and Garrett Celek (21/275/1). Lurking deep is still Torrey Smith (20/267/3), who is catching just 43.5 percent of his targets.
Defense: The 49ers defense has been one of the worst in the league, statistically. They come in ranked dead last in both points allowed (344; 31.3 per game) and yards allowed (424.5).
It should be no surprise that if the Niners offense is on the field the least amount of time in the league that their defense is on the league the most amount of time. This is the biggest issue with Chip Kelly’s system as far as working in the NFL. His defenses tend to get gassed.
Where the 49ers get gashed most is by opponents’ rushing attack, where San Francisco is allowing 171 yards per game, last in the league. The 49ers are allowing 252 pass yards per game, which is good for 15th.
The 49ers have only 19 sacks on the year, second-to-last in the league. They are led in that stat by Ahmad Brooks (4) and rookie DeForest Buckner (3).
Patrolling the secondary is veteran safety Antoine Bethea. Linebacker Gerald Hodges leads the team with two interceptions.
Opposing QBs boast a 99.9 QB rating against the 49ers and have thrown 26 TDs to just seven picks.
The 49ers are allowing 5.1 yards per carry and have had opponents score 14 rushing touchdowns against them. They have also allowed a league-worst 14 20+ yard rushes and six 40+ yard rushes.
Key match ups: Read that last paragraph again. There is no excuse, absolutely none, for Jordan Howard to have fewer than 20 carries. Howard is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and the 49ers are giving up 5.1 yards per carry. This game was made for Howard to rush it down San Francisco’s throats and then let Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford spell him and run it down their throats some more.
On defense it’s going to be about containing Kaepernick, who remains elusive and can scramble at a moments notice. He can keep plays alive with his legs. That said though, San Francisco has allowed 28 sacks, the seventh most in the league, so the Bears pass rush should have some chances to get after him.
If the Bears can slow down the 49ers run game, then San Fran could be in trouble. Chicago has to force three and outs and then let the offense dictate time of possession. If the 49ers start to string long drives together, their fast pace can wear a depth-thin unit like Chicago’s out and substitutions will be difficult to maneuver.
What to watch for: See how the Bears blow this game?
In all seriousness this has the looks to be a bad game between two bad teams, but the Bears have had some moments of brilliance in this lost season, as evidenced by their near-come back last Sunday.
This appears to be the last winnable game on the schedule and while some fans will be rooting for the Bears to lose for draft positioning, I can’t bring myself to do that. If they do, then fine, it’s a nice consolation but even so, the draft order is unaffected by head-to-head meetings so it could still mean little.
Jordan Howard is going to be the best player to watch as he has a chance for a huge day against a sorry 49ers rush defense. Also see if Matt Barkley can build on his solid second half or if it truly was the result of soft Tennessee coverage.
Key stats: San Francisco has not won on the road at all this year.
The 49ers have allowed eight 100-yard rushers this season and three 150-yard rushers.
The Bears are the only team have not scored more than 23 points this season.
The 49ers have allowed the most points in the league.