It’s been fairly well publicized that the Bears are 0-6 against the spread as a favorite under John Fox. The last game that they were favored in was three weeks ago against Green Bay and we know how that turned out.
However, not all opponents are 1-10 and 0-5 on the road but that’s the San Francisco 49ers.
They do have a new starting quarterback as the recently acquired Jimmy Garoppolo becomes the starter and makes his debut as a 49er in his home state. Garoppolo grew up in Arlington Heights and played at Eastern Illinois before being drafted by the Patriots in the second round.
Some Bears fans held out hope that the team might actually get Garappolo in an offseason trade but it didn’t come about.
Now two franchises that will be linked by their 2017 draft day trade will see their QB hopefuls start Sunday. In an ideal world both will work out for their respective franchises and be great quarterbacks for the next decade, but there is a long way to go.
San Francisco 49ers
SB Nation site: Niners Nation
Record: 1-10 (4th in NFC West)
Last week: 24-13 loss to the Seahawks
Bears all-time record against: 31-33-1
Historical match ups: The Bears and the 49ers had some good match ups back when both were among the best in the NFC. The Bears have actually never beaten the 49ers in the playoffs (0-3 all time in the postseason).
This will be the fourth consecutive season that the two teams have met.
Injury report: San Francisco listed eight players on their Wednesday injury report:
- QB C.J. Beathard did not participate due to hip and knee injuries
- T Trent Brown was limited by a shoulder injury
- S Adrian Colbert was limited by a thumb injury
- DE Elvis Dumervil did not practice but it was not injury related
- TE George Kittle was limited by an ankle injury
- S Eric Reid fully participated despite a knee injury
- T Joe Staley did not participate but it wasn’t injury related
- DE Solomon Thomas fully participated while working back from a knee injury
Last meeting: 26-6 win by the Bears almost exactly one year ago, in Week 13. Jordan Howard scored three touchdowns at a snowy Soldier Field as 49ers QBs Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert combined to go 5/15 for 39 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and were sacked six times.
Offense: The 49ers rank 21st in yards and 28th in points.
The passing game ranks first in the league in attempts but 17th in yards and has the third-fewest passing touchdowns in the league (even fewer than the Bears).
That could change with Garoppolo at the helm though. While he hasn’t played a ton, just 96 attempts and two starts in four seasons, he won both of those starts and threw six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Catching those passes will be RB Carlos Hyde (49 rec./295 yds./0 TDs), TE George Kittle (28/291/1) and WR Marquise Goodwin (27/578/1). For being a team without a ton of household names as offensive weapons, they still spread the ball around a lot.
Coach Kyle Shanahan spreads the ball around; eight players have caught the team’s nine TD passes and eight players have double-digit receptions.
The San Fran rushing attack ranks 23rd in yards and 27th in attempts and is the potent side of the offense for the 49ers, with nine rushing touchdowns which ranks 11th.
They are led by Hyde (157 att./639 yds./4 TDs) who is averaging 4.1 YPC and is spelled by Matt Breida (53/231/1) who is averaging a healthy 4.4 YPC.
Defense: The 49ers defense is struggling, coming in ranking 28th in both yards and points. They have the 26th ranked pass defense, having allowed opponents to pass for 20 TD passes but just seven interceptions for an opponent QB rating of 96.2.
The rushing defense ranks 30th in yards, allowing 10 rushing TDs but oddly just 3.9 YPC.
The defensive line for the 49ers does have some talent: Elvis Dumervil has 4.5 sacks, Solomon Thomas has 2.0 but also has 24 tackles and DeForest Buckner has 1.5 sacks and 35 tackles. Leger Douzable and Ronald Blair also each have 2 sacks.
LB Ray-Ray Armstrong has been a playmaker for them, recording 38 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 2 interceptions.
Eric Reid has two interceptions and a fumble recovery while Jaquiski Tartt, Rashard Robinson (also leads the team with 7 passes defensed) and Ahkello Witherspoon each have one interception. CB Dontae Johnson has six passes defensed but has no picks.
Key match ups: This is a favorable match up for a struggling Chicago offense, especially for Jordan Howard. He has a chance to have a big game, much like he did a year ago, although the weather should help in allowing the passing game to open up a little more.
Hopefully the offensive line can get a lot more push against San Fran than they did a week ago and are carrying a little bit of anger after getting embarrassed in Philly.
On defense the key is going to be to limiting the plays from Carlos Hyde and pressuring Jimmy Garoppolo into mistakes due to his relative lack of experience (although the numbers suggest he’s pretty poised).
The secondary can’t let Goodwin (21.4 YPR) get behind them because he is dangerous (plus who can forget two years ago when Torrey Smith was on the 49ers and beat them in OT?).
Garoppolo is really the x-factor for the 49ers and the Bears’ defense. If he’s as good as some believe he is and the Bears don’t have an answer for him then it could be a long day on the lakefront.
What to watch for: Garoppolo vs. Trubisky. Two young QBs giving their respective teams and fans hope for the future. Trubisky is coming off the worst performance in his young career and it would be great to see him take the issues he had last week with his mechanics and clean those up.
Let’s see what these guys are made of.
I’m also curious to see how the team as a whole responds to last week’s debacle. The players said many of the right things after being embarrassed but the Bears have been flat and mistake prone every single week since the bye week.
It could be a big test for how effective John Fox still is in getting the team to play for him. If the team sees the writing on the wall and starts phoning it in for a coach that won’t be back, it will only feed the fires of fans saying Fox has to go now.
Key stats: The 49ers have allowed the most rushing first downs in the league.
The Bears defense have more turnovers than San Francisco (15 to 13).
Hyde hasn’t scored a TD in five games.
The 49ers have scored one more offensive touchdown than the Bears have this season (18 to 17)
What do the Bears need to do to win Sunday? Do you think they can do it?