After starting the season 3-1, the 49ers have lost four in a row, which includes a four-turnover performance by the rejuvenated Alex Smith.
Gore has missed a few games this season but still has the ability to run for 100-plus yards any given game. The Bears defense has been dismantled two of the last three weeks, so slowing down the running game will put the ball in Smith’s hands.
Smith regained his starting job over Shaun Hill and has shown glimpses as to why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, but also why he’s struggled his entire NFL career.
Disguising coverages and keeping a close eye on chatty tight end Vernon Davis is key for the Bears defense if it hopes to reverse its recent fortunes.
I don’t see why that positive play won’t continue against San Francisco, even if the offensive line plays poorly.
What impresses me most about the Bears' passing game is that the two top receivers, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, average 13 yards per reception.
Whether down the field or creating after the catch, this young crop of Bear receivers has played better than anyone expected them to thus far this season, with Hester on pace for 1,000-plus yards receiving.
Unless the game gets away from the Bears early, I don’t see any reason why we won’t get a heavy dose of Matt Forte up the gut.
This is a bit of a no-win for the Bears: If they lose this game, then people will say they’re just a bad team; but if they win this game, people will say big deal, it’s a team they’re supposed to beat.
The Bears have put themselves in a situation where they have to make drastic changes to their attitude and play perfect football the rest of the way if they have a prayer at making that last wild card spot.
Players to Watch
Last week Cutler was able to move the ball and post three touchdowns. Maybe if the defense can force some stops, Cutler and the Bears can make more progress on offense.
I know he’s new to the team, but with Tommie Harris continuing to do things detrimental to himself and the team, now would be a good time for Adams to make an impact.
After making an impact early, Knox has been relatively quiet the past few weeks. The young man from Abilene Christian needs a big game to avoid the proverbial “rookie wall.”
Key to the Game
Frank Gore has had an up and down career. The Bears need to make sure he has a down day this Thursday. Keeping Gore and the 49er offense off the field will take pressure off the battered Bear defense and help challenge their offense.