Grossman, Bears ready for homework

The last time the Bears met the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason, quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh and Peter Tom Willis were dueling against Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Bears QB Rex Grossman was only 10 years old when the high-powered 49ers went on to beat the Bears 21-7 in the 1991 American Bowl in Berlin, Germany. A lot has changed -- including quite a few Bears quarterbacks -- since that time.

Now future of the franchise, Grossman will start his second preseason game of the season, and first at home, when the Bears host the 49ers today at 7:30 p.m.

Grossman was 4-for-5 passing for 23 yards in limited action in the team's preseason opening victory over the Rams on Aug. 12.

"I feel extremely comfortable, a lot more comfortable than I thought I would at this point," Grossman said. "Just from the fact that looking at that big playbook in February it was like, 'Whoa, I've got a lot of work to do.' Now I feel really comfortable with where I'm at and I couldn't be more excited with where I'm at."

The Bears actually made the playoffs during that '91 season. Grossman can only hope that's a good sign for him and the team. But the Bears have made only two playoff appearances since that season.

Grossman has done a nice job grasping offensive coordinator Terry Shea's new system. He played a quarter in the win over the Rams, but could see a more time tonight against the 49ers. Backup Jonathan Quinn has missed the last few practices with a sore left shoulder and is unlikely to see much time, if any. Rookie Craig Krenzel, the team's third QB, will get ample time, while Shea said he'd like to give rookie Ryan Dinwiddie one series.

"Everyone has a nice sense of what we're doing on offense," Grossman said. "Everyone is comfortable with everything. Our whole offense has been installed. And we've had a chance to review a lot of plays and we feel real comfortable with where we're at right now offensively."

The game will be Lovie Smith's first at Soldier Field as the Bears' new coach. It will also be a return for defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, a member of the 1985 Super Bowl team.

"I think for players, it's going to be a big thrill, because there's a lot of history, a lot of tradition with this club," Rivera said. "When you get there and feel the excitement of the fans -- especially the Chicago fans -- I think it's really going to carry some of these young players.

"This is a young football team that has to understand and learn. The more they do that the better we'll be as a football team."

San Francisco at Bears
* When: 7:30 p.m. today.
* TV/Radio: WCIU-TV (Ch. 26)/WBBM-AM (780).


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