Niners game plan
The onus is on the 49ers defense to keep the Bears offense in check. Chicago will start rookie Craig Krenzel, who made his NFL debut last week in the Bears' 19-7 loss to Tampa Bay. The 49ers' first priority will be to contain the Bears' running game. Thomas Jones is fifth in the NFC with 510 yards, with five touchdowns, on a 4.4-yard average. If the 49ers are able to keep Jones in check, they have to clean up some rough spots in their pass defense. The 49ers own the No. 13 overall defense, but they've allowed opposing quarterbacks to torch them for a passer rating of 102.5. The 49ers have to find a way to get some pressure on the quarterback to take the heat off a depleted secondary. They have recorded just 10 sacks in the first six games. Linebacker Julian Peterson, who is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles' tendon, still leads the team with just 2.5 sacks. Defensive end John Engelberger leads the 49ers with five quarterback pressures, while defensive tackle Bryant Young has four. Young does not have a sack this season. The 11th-year pro averaged more than eight sacks a season in his first seven years in the league. The last three years, he has averaged three sacks. Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson will have to get creative in finding a way to apply constant pressure to Krenzel. Linebacker Jamie Winborn, who might be the team's best pass rusher, should be coming on blitzes in passing situations. MATCHUPS TO WATCH: 49ers run defense, which should be bolstered by the return of MLB Derek Smith, vs. Bears RB Thomas Jones, who has rushed for 510 yards and five touchdowns to give Chicago a respectable running game; CBs Shawntae Spencer and Jimmy Williams, who have just five career starts between them, vs. WRs David Terrell and Bobby Wade, who have just 17 receptions apiece through the first six games; FB Fred Beasley, one of the keys to the run game with his dominating lead-blocking, vs. MLB Brian Urlacher, who has 56 tackles despite missing two games with a right hamstring injury. INJURY IMPACT: CB Ahmed Plummer is out for at least this week's game with a bulging disk in his neck. Plummer first experienced the pain this season on Oct. 17 against the N.Y. Jets. The condition kept him out of one game last season. QB Tim Rattay is expected to have a reduced time in practice this week because of a strained right forearm. Coach Dennis Erickson said he expects Rattay to start Sunday night's game. TE Eric Johnson benefited from the bye week to rest his cracked rib on his right side. Johnson is practicing this week for the first time since sustaining the injury Oct. 3 against St. Louis. DE Andre Carter's bad back is getting better, but he will miss his sixth straight game this week. Erickson said he expects Carter to return to action next week for the Nov. 7 game against Seattle. LB Derek Smith will return to the starting lineup after missing two games with torn ankle ligaments. LB Saleem Rasheed will not play after undergoing surgery last week on his right knee. DE Andrew Williams, who sustained a broken right lower leg in an Aug. 4 practice, is still about a month away from returning to action. C Jeremy Newberry underwent surgery to stabilize his right kneecap on Sept. 21 and is expected to miss most of the season. Erickson said he hopes Newberry will be ready to return to action in about a month.
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