Bears vs. 49ers: What Chicago Must Do to Win Without Jay Cutler

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent INovember 19, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 12:  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 12, 2009 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 10-6.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears' Monday night road game against the San Francisco 49ers only got tougher with Jay Cutler out.

Per the Bears' official Twitter feed:

LM: #Bears have announced that QB Jason Campbell will start Monday night's game at San Francisco.

— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 16, 2012

That said, Chicago needs a response victory after getting stifled at home vs. the Houston Texans. San Francisco, though, fields just as stellar of a defense and the Niners are capable of totally blanking the Bears.

Here, we look at how Jason Campbell can manage this contest and get the Windy City back into the win column.


Run...A Lot

If there's any kind of weakness on the 49ers defense it's defending the run.

Now yes, San Francisco allows a mere 3.7 yards per rush and only 95.3 per game.

Still, the St. Louis Rams racked up 159 on the ground and the Seattle Seahawks piled on 136. Even better for Chicago, the New York Giants bowled a 149 against the 'Niners and the Minnesota Vikings steamrolled to 146.

Plus with a backup under center the best friend to Campbell is the ground game. The Bears average 4.4 per carry and 127 per game, so attacking with their strengths is required.

And it also helps to have arguably the best two-back tandem in pro football.

Not Forgetting Brandon Marshall

Allow Campbell to take shots downfield, period.

Most certainly do the Bears need to maintain a run-heavy approach and never abandon the ground game throughout. What that does, however, is set up the play-action pass.

Brandon Marshall possesses the overall skill set to beat man coverage, split a Cover 2 zone and out-muscle any double coverage. Chicago just needs to take the opportunity when it emphatically presents itself.

After displaying some predictability on first and/or second down, Marshall selling run-block then bolting downfield is capable of catching the 'Niners off guard. As a result, no matter what the plays' outcome, Chicago shows the willingness to stretch San Francisco out.

The idea here is to simply keep the 49ers honest, because the last thing any offense can do vs. this defense is remain one-dimensional.

Creating the High-Percentage Situations

Getting into more manageable down-and-distances first comes from running the ball on first down.

Then, second and/or third down aren't consistently medium or long situations which are obviously tougher to convert. The relevance of play-action pass becomes enhanced thereafter, because the worst-case scenario is field position.

In a nutshell, that means interceptions are better than fumbles. So if Campbell dials up Marshall or anyone downfield but an interception occurs, that changes the field position basically like a punt.

What happens from that is Chicago's defense not getting put in tough situations. San Francisco then plays a bit more conservative with a lesser-experienced quarterback and the Bears never lose the field position advantage.

After all, according to Chris Mortensen of

Alex Smith will not play tonight for 49ers, unable to get clearance from neurologist after suffering concussion last week, per sources.

— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 19, 2012

So, Chicago fields the more proven backup quarterback. Therefore, controlling the tempo by running the ball and occasionally using Marshall downfield, the Bears gain a distinct competitive edge.


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