Game snapshot: 49ers vs. Bears
KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Craig Krenzel will make his first career start for Chicago, and it comes in primetime. The Bears have a solid defense, but the unit has been forced to be on the field far too long in most games. The Bears will go to RB Thomas Jones early, but Krenzel will have to make some plays downfield to keep the 49ers defense honest. San Francisco has allowed an opposing passer rating of 102.5. The secondary is beat up despite coming off a bye week, and CB Ahmed Plummer will not play. The 49ers have just three takeaways, while the offense has turned the ball over nine times. QB Tim Rattay has been battling a strained right forearm, but TE Eric Johnson's cracked rib is improved following the bye week. Still, the key is RB Kevan Barlow, whose inconsistent production has prevented the 49ers from putting together enough sustained drives. FAST FACTS: 49ers: Only seven players have started every game at the same position. … Niners held 31-16 lead in second half before losing in overtime in last visit to Chicago in 2001. Bears: Five losses have been by an average of 6.8 points. ... Defense has allowed nine touchdowns in 24 red-zone possessions (37.5 percent). PERSONNEL NEWS 49ERS --- QB Tim Rattay did not practice this week and it looks questionable for him playing Sunday night against the Bears because of a muscle strain in his right forearm. It is altogether possible that Rattay's availability will be determined during warm-ups Sunday. --- CB Joselio Hanson, a first-year player from Texas Tech, will see significant playing time as the 49ers' third cornerback. He will enter the game when the 49ers go with five defensive backs. Hanson spent his rookie season last year on San Francisco's practice squad. --- QB Ken Dorsey participated in all the first-team reps during practice and is preparing to start Sunday. Dorsey has started two games this season. He has completed 46 of 79 passes (58.2 percent) for 469 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. --- CB Ahmed Plummer will not play Sunday and could be out of action for a while with a bulging disk in his neck. Coach Dennis Erickson said he does not believe Plummer is out for the season, but his neck will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. --- CB Jimmy Williams, who has two career starts in his four-year NFL career, will start at left cornerback in place of Plummer. --- TE Eric Johnson practiced this week, as his cracked rib on his right side is feeling a lot better. Johnson did not practice the weeks leading up to the 49ers' last two games. He is second in the NFL with 45 receptions, and leads all tight ends with 484 yards receiving. BEARS --- C Olin Kreutz (elbow) was removed from the injury report after practicing on Thursday. --- OG Ruben Brown (knee) was removed from the injury report after practicing on Thursday. --- DE Adewale Ogunleye (lower-right leg) is listed as questionable, but he has not practiced all week and doesn't seem to have any intention of playing on Sunday. That appears to be getting on the nerves of coach Lovie Smith, who doesn't wish to spend much time discussing the situation. --- OG Rex Tucker spent a second straight day taking snaps with the first team at right guard, leading to speculation that he will play in his first regular-season game in more than two years after a series of three serious injuries. --- MLB Brian Urlacher was held out of practice on Thursday to rest his hamstring but he is expected to play on Sunday night. INSIDE THE CAMPS 49ERS The 49ers have eschewed free agency and tried to replenish their roster through the draft. However, only two former first-round picks of the 49ers will be starting Sunday. One - defensive tackle Bryant Young - is starting for the 49ers, while cornerback R.W. McQuarters will start for the Bears. The 49ers have had 10 first-round draft picks since they selected Young with the No. 7 overall pick in the 1994 draft. Receiver J.J. Stokes ('95), quarterback Jim Druckenmiller ('97) and defensive tackle Reggie McGrew ('99) are no longer in the league. McQuarters was traded to the Bears in June 2000 for a seventh-round draft pick. Meanwhile, linebacker Julian Peterson (2000), cornerback Ahmed Plummer (2000), defensive end Andre Carter ('01) and cornerback Mike Rumph ('02) are out with injuries; tackle Kwame Harris ('03) has yet to regain his starting job after sustaining injuries earlier in the season; and rookie Rashaun Woods is the team's No. 5 wide receiver. Plummer is the latest No. 1 pick to go down. He has a bulging disc in his neck and will not play this week's game. The 49ers can only hope they don't lose Plummer for an extended period of time. Plummer, who missed three games in the first four seasons of his career, was sidelined for a game late last season with the same neck problem. "I'm very concerned," Plummer said. "Any time you have an injury to your neck, you have to definitely be wise. You have to think of the bigger picture." Harris was the starting left tackle to begin the season, but he has yet to return to the starting lineup after missing a couple weeks with sprains to his left ankle and knee. He will play his third consecutive game Sunday night as a backup to Kyle Kosier. Harris said he is dealing with the pressures of being a No. 1 pick a lot better this season than he did as a rookie. "I'm putting on the blinders, you know?" Harris said. "I'm not really paying attention to all the extraneous stuff." BEARS Rookie defensive tackle Tommie Harris has had to deal with more obstacles than he imagined in his young pro career, and he's overcoming most of them. The Bears' leading tackler among their defensive linemen has discovered that not all of his enemies wear facemasks and shoulder pads. Some wear striped shirts and whistles while others dress in suits and work in the league office. Harris is $5,000 poorer this week but presumably wiser after being fined for knocking Bucs quarterback Brian Griese on his butt Sunday after a first-quarter play was whistled dead. Harris had jumped offside but either failed to hear or acknowledge the whistle and continued unimpeded to the quarterback and finished the play as he has been taught. The play cost the Bears 15 yards on the field and Harris a lot more in the wallet when notification came via FedEx on Wednesday. "They gave me the 15-yard penalty; that told me that I was disciplined for my actions," said Harris, who leads the Bears with 2 1/2 sacks and the linemen with 30 tackles. "Then I get another message on Wednesday - Federal Express. The penalty was embarrassing, but the fine hurts. That hurts a lot. The penalty you can make up for; you've got more plays. But the fine, they're not going to listen. You get an appeal and that stuff, but they're just going to keep fining. I like to keep my money. I'm not a big-time spender. I can go help my family with what they're taking away." Harris was also fined $2,500 for a minor role in a multi-player, petty skirmish with the Vikings earlier in the season. He takes exception to what he considers prejudicial treatment by the league against defensive players, whom he feels are always identified as culprits, even though offensive linemen commit more dangerous acts when they cut defensive linemen with blocks below the waist. He claims the Bucs retaliated against him in that fashion after he dropped Griese, when he was engaged by one lineman and blocked low by another. "I almost got my leg blown out where the guard (Cosey Coleman) held me up intentionally and the tackle (Derrick Deese) came out," Harris said. "It was good my cleats popped out of the ground because he could have taken my knee out." Normally when Harris gets double-teamed these days it's a testament to his playing ability, not an attempt at revenge. "He's a great player," Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "People see that on film. He's so quick. You've got to try to slow him down somehow, and they're putting two guys on him, which helps us out as linebackers." Having started six games and played four preseason games, Harris is nearing the point where a lot of rookies run out of gas. He claims he feels fine and isn't concerned about hitting the wall. "Hopefully I'll jump over the wall," Harris said. "I hear a lot of guys talking about hitting the wall, but I feel all right now. I'm doing the proper treatment to take care of my body and hopefully it will last me the rest of the season."
Niners Digest Top Stories
Week 2: Fantasy Football Deep SleepersFantasy Football Expert Jack Delaney reveals some under-the-radar players that could help you gain an edge in your Week 2 matchup.
2016 Expert Sleepers, Busts & BreakoutsThe best high-stakes Fantasy Football Experts and world's highest-ranked fantasy players have contributed to what we call Preseason Pro. A collection of hand-picked fantasy…
Top 10 NFL Celebration FailsRevisiting some of the worst celebration fails in NFL history.
Scout NFL Network08/24/2016
10 greatest one-handed catches in NFL historyCheck out the most jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring one-handed catches of all-time in the NFL. Find out who comes in after Odell Beckham's catch against the Dallas Cowboys.