The last time a San(ta) (Clara) Francisco 49ers quarterback made his debut against the Chicago Bears, the stat line wasn't too kind to Chicago's defense. 243 yards and two touchdowns at first glance doesn't seem special, but those meager numbers don't do the performance justice. That thoroughly was Colin Kaepernick dicing up an over-the-hill Brian Urlacher Bears unit on "Monday Night Football".
Five years later, on a much less grand stage, (Arlington Heights) Chicago native Jimmy Garoppolo makes his own starting debut for San(ta) (Clara) Francisco against his childhood team. Robbie Gould, Chicago's all-time leading scorer, also makes his return as the opposing kicker at Soldier Field for the first time. Solomon Thomas, the edge player the Bears could have drafted, comes to show the organization what they're missing out on. Narratives galore!
Logically, the Bears have more talent on their roster over this particular 49ers squad. And, in a match-up between two teams with four wins, they should be favored. But no one knows their actual state of mind. Is this a team that's thrown in the towel, knowing John Fox is on his last legs? Have rampant injuries on defense, even with the return of Danny Trevathan, taken too much of a blow to morale?
All I know is that I won't be able to stomach the rational takes if a quarterback (Jimmy G.) that gestated behind Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for four years outplays Trubisky - a quarterback going into his 21st non-college start. Oh, what am I saying? That's definitely not going to happen, right?
Your WCG staff picks for Bears-49ers:
It seems every early December of late, these two now irrelevant franchises are meeting in a "draft position" bowl. But with Garoppolo getting a home town start against Trubisky - the new favorite son of Chicago - I actually think this will be one of the sexier match-ups of Week 13. In a shootout, I think a better Bears squad comes out on top on the strength of a career (if that says much at this stage) Trubisky outing. Hindsight be damned.
Bears 31 49ers 27
Lester Wiltfong Jr.
Right now, Garoppolo is a better quarterback than Trubisky. He may not have a full mastery of the 49ers offense, but he'll be able to have his way against a depleted Bears defense. Trubisky will bounce back after last week's stinker, but I don't trust the Bears' coaching staff to put together a competent game plan.
49ers 30 Bears 24
I think the Bears are in full on spiral here. Fox is on his way out in the worst kept secret in the league and the players aren't really showing up recently. Garoppolo is ready to bust out and show that he's got the goods. The Bears should be able to get the run going but overall I think that San(ta) Fran (Clara) is ready to show some hope for 2018. Gould is also going to hit some big field goals and stare over at Jeff Rodgers and Ryan Pace in the box upstairs.
49ers 31, Bears 17
I don't think the problem is Trubisky, but he's also not going to overcome the limitations by himself. I think the Bears are going to beat themselves and the 49ers will happen to be on the field when it happens.
49ers 24 Bears 13
The Bears should win this game, but every time we say that, they lose. On offense, the Bears looked completely lost against the Eagles last week. They'll get back on-track this week. And by on-track, I mean 17 points. The Bears are decimated by injuries on defense and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will be eager to play with his new toy (Jimmy G.). The Bears won't be able to stop the pass nor will they be able to score. I think they lose a close one at home to a team that they are absolutely more talented than.
49ers 20 Bears 17
Compared to other games against the Niners, this will be...
- Better than the meaningfully bad: our three playoff losses to San(ta) Fran (Clara)
- Better than the horrifically bad: 41-0 in '87, 26-0 in '89, 52-14 in '91, Jay Cutler's five interception game in 2009, or even the Blaine Gabbert blown game in 2015
- Better than the comically bad: the T.O. 20-catch game, when our offense didn't cross midfield
- Better than most other losses to the 49ers (Most. We'll come back to this.)
- Worse than the rip-roaring 41-10 win in '06
- Worse than the Brandon Marshall three touchdown game in '14
- Worse than the ass-kicking we gave them in '85
- Not nearly as much fun as the Mike Brown game in 2001
- Worse than most other wins over the 49ers
I see three possible templates for how this one will feel.
1. The new 49ers QB unleashes his yet un-scouted fury on us like Kaepernick did in 2012.
2. A "who wants to not win less" Bears victory, like in 2016.
3. A "whoa, that was a weird-ass game" Bears OR Niners victory, like the 2005 wind plus Nathan Vasher field goal game.
Honestly, I'm going to take a low-scoring combination of scenarios No. 1 and No. 3.
I have no faith.
49ers 13 Bears 7
This is either the "why the hell is anybody watching this game" game, the "HOPE!!!" game, or the "We care, okay?!" (cue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1g9PFtSCKw) game (with a nod to "I have no faith" from Jack).
I wager it'll be more "Why the hell," less "HOPE," and much less "We have a trade winner" because that's damn silly.
Actual answer, the Bears have given zero reason to have faith in them to beat the Tim Beckman, Bill Cubit and Lovie Smith-led Illini, much less an actual NFL team. The 49ers most certainly are not the Eagles, but the Bears are still their own biggest enemy and until they can play a game without beating themselves, I can't in any good faith pick them to beat an actual NFL team.
49ers 17 Bears 14
There are no if's, and's or but's about it: the 49ers have sucked this year.
Sure, Garoppolo will be making his first start with the team this week, but is that really going to magically make them a great team? Of course it won't. The Bears have been bad as well, but they've at least managed to beat a few playoff-caliber teams and stay competitive in a handful of their losses. The biggest factor that will play into a Chicago victory, in my opinion, is their run game. San Francisco has been run against more than any other defense in the NFL. And for good reason, too. This puts Jordan Howard in a perfect position to bounce back from his poor outing against the Eagles.
Bears 20 49ers 17
Playing the Bears right now is a chance for offensive coordinators to look like geniuses. Garoppolo is solid but average. So he'll naturally look like a god against Chicago and then go back to struggling against the rest of the league.
49ers 20 Bears 16
In overtime ...
Bears 2 49ers 0
WCG Contributors: Jeff Berckes; Patti Curl; Kev H; Sam Householder;Jacob Infante; Andrew Link; Ken Mitchell; Steven Schweickert; Jack Silverstein; EJ Snyder; Lester Wiltfong, Jr.; Robert Zeglinski; Like us onFacebook.