Bears-49ers Breakdown

With a good chance to extend their winning streak to five games, the Bears face a 49ers squad with offensive weapons, but is there anyone to get them the ball?

BEARS GAME PLAN
The Bears want to control the game with their No. 3 defense against a 49ers offense that is struggling with former fourth-string QB Cody Pickett starting.

``We're going to try to make him beat us," said MLB Brian Urlacher. "If we can stop the run, we'll put more pressure on in to try and make plays in the passing game and have a chance to blitz him and do some different things."

The Bears are concerned that the 49ers' defense, which also ranks near the bottom statistically, is much better than their numbers indicate. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner is especially leery of the Niners defensive line and linebackers Julian Peterson and Derek Smith.

With the Bears still struggling to throw the ball, this is another game that the defense might have to win. Offensively, the Bears have lived by the ground game, but RB Thomas Jones (ribs) is still hurting, and the 49ers have been solid against the run. Still Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson put up 137 yards on 20 carries in the second half against the Saints.

``We got three guys who can make guys miss and break a tackle," said center Olin Kreutz. "Obviously we have to block and they have to run where they are suppose to be running. ...when running backs are good, it makes it easy for any team.''

BEARS MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • Bears RT John St. Clair, who is starting his first game at that position and his second of the season, vs. 49ers DLE Bryant Young, who is second in the NFL with eight sacks.

    "He's playing at a tremendous level, using his hands extremely well, he's playing at an all-pro level he really is in all phases," Turner said of Young.

  • Bears QB Kyle Orton, who is second to last among starters with a passer rating of 62.9 and has the lowest yards per pass at 5.27, vs. a 49ers defense that is dead last in passing yards allowed and average gain allowed per pass play.

    "It'd be nice to make some plays in the passing game, we've had some opportunities we haven't hit them and we're going to have to keep working on them," Turner said.

    49ERS GAME PLAN
    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, 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 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.

    The Bears rush defense is ranked seventh in the league, but did have trouble in the first half against the Saints.

    "This defense is about gap responsibility," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who let his team know how he felt in a fiery halftime speech. "When teams are hurting us it's because we are not playing our gaps and responsibilities. I think the big thing we have to do is come out and play our base fundamentals and it'll take care of itself."

    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.

    "Being that he's a rookie quarterback you know they're going to do some things to protect him a little bit," said former Bear Tony Parrish.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH

  • 49ers FB Fred Beasley, who struggled mightily with his blocking 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.

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