49ers game plan

Game plan, matchups to watch and injury impact for the 49ers in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears:

GAME PLAN VS. BEARS

The 49ers have not been a good road team this season, getting outscored 125-34 in those games. They have to avoid getting down early against the Bears, who have won four consecutive games despite scoring 21 points or more just once during that stretch. The 49ers must make Chicago work for everything it gets. That means they must play sound defense and not give up any big plays. Offensively, Cody Pickett will start again. He must not throw any interceptions because the 49ers have a difficult time scoring points on offense and they certainly can't afford to give the other team's offense any easy points. The 49ers will see a lot of eight-men-in-the-box defensive formations because the passing attack has been so poor. Pickett showed an ability to get the ball down the field, but his receivers and offensive line have to do their jobs, too. The 49ers had an opportunity for two big plays last week against the Giants. Tight end Trent Smith dropped one deep pass, while another long gain was wiped out due to a holding penalty. The 49ers have to win this game on special teams and defense and just hope the offense can do enough to win. Running back Frank Gore might get some more action because of his ability to hit the hole hard, as opposed to Kevan Barlow, who is more apt to dance, which allows a fast defense to converge on him. Outside linebacker Julian Peterson looks to be returning to form after sustaining a torn Achilles 13 months ago. He will need a big game as a pass rusher, and the 49ers have to force rookie quarterback Kyle Orton into some turnovers.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--- 49ers FB Fred Beasley, who struggled mightily with his blocking last week because of a thumb injury, vs. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher, the team's biggest playmaker and sack leader with six.

--- RT Kwame Harris, who has shown a tendency to commit false-start penalties against speed rushers, vs. DE Adewale Ogunleye, who will undoubtedly see plenty of double-team blocking.

--- CB Bruce Thornton, who appears to have a chance to unseat Ahmed Plummer as the full-time starter, vs. Muhsin Muhammad, the Bears' leading receiver with 37 receptions for 471 yards and two touchdowns.

INJURY IMPACT

QB Alex Smith (right knee) is likely to miss two more games with a sprain he sustained Oct. 23 against the Redskins. ... Backup Ken Dorsey will not start after sustaining a left ankle sprain Oct. 30 against the Buccaneers. Dorsey is well enough to play but coach Mike Nolan said he is going with Cody Pickett because Dorsey is not quite 100 percent. ... Center Jeremy Newberry is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game and will not play. He has played every game this season with his severe right knee problem, but this will be the week he takes a rest. Newberry requires painkilling injections in his knee and both shoulders in order to play in games. ... LB Saleem Rasheed is expected to miss a couple more weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage. ... CB Ahmed Plummer (left ankle) is available to play in Sunday's game, but the 49ers will start second-year player Bruce Thornton instead at left cornerback. ... Eric Heitmann (neck stinger), the team's regular right guard, is expected to play, and he probably will be the replacement for Newberry to start at center. ... RBs Kevan Barlow (left thigh) and Frank Gore (right foot) are expected to play despite missing practice earlier this week with their injuries. ... WR Derrick Hamilton is still on physically unable to perform after sustaining a torn ACL in the off-season. He is not expected to play this season. ... LT Jonas Jennings (right shoulder), LB Jeff Ulbrich (left biceps), CB Mike Rumph (foot), TE Eric Johnson (foot) and WR Rashaun Woods (thumb) are on injured reserve.


Niners Digest Top Stories