Thursday Snapshot: Bears vs. 49ers

The NFL experts chip in with everything you need to know just ahead of Thursday's prime time matchup between the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in Week 10.

Kickoff: 7:20 p.m. Central
Surface: Grass
Television: NFL Network – Bob Papa, Matt Millen
Series: 58th meeting. Bears lead 29-27-1 in the regular season. They've won the past three meetings and four of the last five, although all of the victories were at Soldier Field. The Niners have won all three postseason meetings.

Both teams entered the season with run-first offenses. Due to poor run blocking, Bears QB Jay Cutler has had to shoulder too much of the offensive load. That won't change this weekend with the 49ers far stronger defending the run (93.2 yards per game) with LB Patrick Willis leading the way than the pass (241.0) minus injured CB Nate Clements and spotty safety play. San Francisco is having its own offensive line issues, and the switch to QB Alex Smith and arrival of WR Michael Crabtree has transformed the offense into a far more vertical attack. Smith has proven to still be turnover-prone, and with the Bears allowing 4.2 yards per carry, 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye needs to put more emphasis on RB Frank Gore.

Smith has lost his last seven starts. ... This is the first time since 1994 the Bears have allowed 40 or more points twice in the same season.

S Josh Bullocks
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Al Afalava (shoulder) and Kevin Payne (back) are the only two strong safeties listed on the Bears' depth chart, but cornerback Charles Tillman says the secondary will be fine, even if those two can't play. ... Backup RB Garrett Wolfe will not play Thursday with what the Bears have said is a back injury, but which is believed to be a lacerated kidney that left him hospitalized after Sunday's game. He could miss two to four weeks. ... WR Devin Hester has 27 catches for 359 yards in the past four games with at least six catches and 81 yards each week. He's on pace for 82 catches and 1,096 yards for the season. ... WR Earl Bennett, who did not catch a pass last season as a rookie, has 17 catches for 227 yards in the past four games, and he's on pace for a 64-catch, 854-yard season. ... TE Greg Olsen has six TD catches in the past six games. ... Tillman (shoulder) was limited at Tuesday's practice but is expected to start Thursday. ... S Josh Bullocks will start at strong safety if both Afalava and Payne do not play.

49ers: WR Jason Hill, inactive for five of the 49ers' first seven games of the season, took advantage of his opportunity Sunday when he replaced struggling veteran Isaac Bruce. ... Smith threw three interceptions, two of which came on passes that were deflected. Only one of the picks came as a result of holding the ball too long, he said. ... CB Tarell Brown is expected to be a fixture in the 49ers' starting lineup for years after his promotion corresponded with the demotion of Clements against the Colts on Nov. 1. Brown had just signed a contract extension that awarded him a $2.5 million signing bonus and locked him up through the 2013 season. ... TE Vernon Davis leads the NFC among tight ends with 477 receiving yards. Dallas' Jason Witten is the only NFC tight end with more catches than Davis, who has 42 receptions and seven touchdowns. ... RB Michael Robinson will be the 49ers' backup at fullback and halfback, as well as an extra tight end. Robinson will be Gore's primary backup after rookie Glen Coffee has been ruled out of Thursday's game with a concussion. ... Bruce does not appear on the 49ers' injury report, but the club says Hill replaced him as the No. 3 wideout because Bruce rolled his ankle late in the first half against the Titans. ... DL Ricky Jean-Francois, a seventh-round pick, suited up for the first time last week against the Titans but did not get into the game. He is expected to be active again Thursday because veteran Demetric Evans is out another two games with a shoulder injury. ... C Cody Wallace, a fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft, has been inactive for all 24 games of his NFL career and does not figure to suit up for a game as long as starting C Eric Heitmann is available.

49ers 23, Bears 20.

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