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Bears vs 49ers preview: A winnable game? What’s that?

The 49ers and Bears are both teams trying to figure it all out before it’s too late.

Indianapolis Colts v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There aren’t many Chicago Bears fans that wouldn’t take Kyle Shanahan over Matt Nagy, but Shanahan is beginning to get a lot more scrutiny as the 49ers have started 2-4 this season.

Since the 49ers’ Super Bowl appearance nearly two years ago, the team has won eight games. Outside of that 2019 13-3 campaign, Shanahan’s team is just 18-36.

The San Francisco coach has earned a longer lease because of his playcalling and the downright terrible injury woes that the team has had, but there are beginning to be some cracks appearing in his otherwise solid job foundation.

The Bears, are, for all intents and purposes, a dumpster fire. Fans are all prepared to assist the coaching staff down the long hallway to Black Monday and help them pack.

After the last two weeks, the Bears welcome an opponent that appears to be at least on their level. But that doesn’t make this game any easier for them. Nick Bosa will challenge their offensive line and Deebo Samuel will challenge the Bears’ secondary.

Further evidence is that DraftKings Sportsbook has the Bears as 3.5 point underdogs, at home.

And we just know the Bears are prone to, well, Bears-ing.

San Francisco 49ers

SB Nation site: Niners Nation

Record: 2-4, third in the NFC West

Last week: 30-18 loss to the Colts on Sunday Night Football

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Game betting line (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook): San Francisco -3.5, O/U 39.5

Bears all-time record against: 34-31-1, including 0-3 postseason

Historical meetings: The last time these teams met with both having rookie signal callers was back in 2005, when Alex Smith was the first overall pick and Kyle Orton was pressed into action for Chicago.

However, Smith was hurt and didn’t play against Chicago (Trey Lance missed last week with a knee injury).

The Bears were 5-3 and the 49ers were 2-6 when they met at a windy Soldier Field.

Gusty winds meant it wasn’t a day for passing and really neither quarterback was prolific without the wind.

Cody Pickett started for San Francisco and completed one of his 13 attempts for 28 yards and an interception.

Kyle Orton was better, he completed eight of his 13 attempts for 68 yards and an interception.

Adrian Peterson (Bears version) scored a touchdown and rushed for 120 yards.

The highlight by far was Nathan Vasher’s 108 yard missed field goal return.

The Bears won 17-9.

Last meeting: Week 16 of 2018, the Bears went to San Francisco Santa Clara and met the 3-11 49ers.

Mitchell Trubisky went 25 for 29 for 241 yards and a touchdown to Anthony Miller, while Jordan Howard rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown as well.

The defense held the 49ers out of the endzone and they won 17-9.

Injury report: The Niners listed 10 players on their injury report Wednesday

Did not participate: LB Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion), DL Dee Ford (concussion), DL Maurice Hurst (calf), DT Javon Kinlaw (knee), C Alex Mack (not injury related), WR Deebo Samuel (calf), S Jaquiski Tartt (knee), T Trent Williams (elbow, ankle)

Limited participation: QB Trey Lance (knee), LB Marcell Harris (thumb)

Offense: The 49ers offense ranks 19th in points and 18th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks 20th and their rushing offense ranks 12th.

San Francisco has used two quarterbacks this season, rookie Trey Lance (52.1 pct cmp./354 yds/3 TD/1 INT), who may start if he’s healthy and Jimmy Garoppolo (64.8 pct cmp./1,106 yds/6 TD/1 INT).

Kyle Shanahan has committed to Garoppolo this week, but if Lance is healthy he could see the field in packages, a la Justin Fields earlier this season for Chicago.

While all-world TE George Kittle is still on injured reserve, whoever is playing will have some weapons to throw to. This includes Deebo Samuel (38 rec./648 yds./4 TD), the veteran Mohamad Sanu (11/113/0) and Brandon Ayiuk (9/96/1).

They also have FB Kyle Jusczyk (14/135/1).

Their ground game is getting production from Elijah Mitchell (63 att./296 yds/2 TD) and Trey Sermon (31/135/1).

Defense: The San Francisco defense ranks sixth in yards allowed but 21st in points allowed.

Their passing defense ranks ranks fifth, while their rushing defense ranks 20th.

Led by LBs Fred Warner (54 tkls/4 TFL/1 PD) and Azeez Al-Shaair (44 tkls/3 TFL/2 PD) as well as S Jimmie Ward (33 tkls/1 TFL/1 PD), the 49ers defense has playmakers at each level of the defense, but lacks turnovers. The only player on the 49ers with an interception is LB Dre Greenlaw.

Their defensive line has Nick Bosa (5 sks/8 TFL/13 QB hits), Dee Ford (3 sks/2 TFL/4 QB hits) and DT Kentavius Street (2 sk/3 TFL/2 QB hits).

Key match ups: The numbers say that the Bears will be able to run on San Francisco’s defense but that passing will be a struggle, which doesn’t really hurt Chicago since that plays into their offense’s strong suits.

Whoever is playing right tackle is going to have to take on Nick Bosa and that is a huge match up in order to give time for Justin Fields to actually, you know, complete passes.

CBs Josh Norman and Emmanuel Mosley against Bears receivers Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson will be big for the Bears passing game as well.

On defense, being without Khalil Mack and likely Robert Quinn will put a lot on Akiem Hicks, who was limited Wednesday with his groin injury and younger guys like Bilal Nichols (also limited Wednesday) and Trevis Gipson.

The Niners offense goes through their running game, so if they defense can slow that down, it will make it easier to rattle Jimmy G, who is really proving to be a pretty average quarterback.

Key stats

  • The Niners have one interception, 31st in the league
  • The Niners’ defense has four total turnovers, 30th in the league.
  • The Bears offense ranks 22nd with 10 turnovers
  • San Francisco has been better on the road than at home this season, with both their wins coming on the road
  • Both of these defenses rank top 10 in pass defense (San Fran fifth, Chicago eighth) and bottom 10 in rushing defense (San Fran 20th, Chicago 23rd)
  • Despite Chicago’s putrid offense and rookie quarterback turnovers, the Bears have a -2 takeaway difference, while San Francisco is actually worse, with -7
  • Four of the last five games in this series have been decided by eight or fewer points

Can the Bears get a win this week? Will the offense find any success passing the ball or is all going to have to come in the ground game?