What We Learned: Bears vs. 49ers

What did we learn about the Chicago Bears after a 10-6 defeat to Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park? Start with these five observations made straight from the press box.

1. Hester will always lack some key No. 1 characteristics
On pace for 85 receptions and 1,060 yards this season, credit Devin Hester for proving many of his naysayers wrong that he can't be a primary target in this league. However, we saw some reasons Thursday in San Francisco why he'll never be on par with the likes of Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Not only does his 5-11 and 189-pound frame limit him from from a physical point of view when it comes to his effectiveness in the red zone, but he lacks some of the instinctual characteristics that separate the truly great wideouts from the simply good ones.

You can make an argument that two of Jay Cutler's five interceptions were Hester's fault, as one time he slipped coming out of what was a lazily run pattern and then quit on another mid-stride when the umpire interrupted a crossing pattern.


DE Gaines Adams
Getty Images: Chris McGrath

2. No return whatsoever ever on the Adams investment thus far
Acquired from Tampa Bay about a month ago for a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Gaines Adams got a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago after disappointing for two and a half seasons with the Buccaneers. But four games into his Bears stint, either Adams is strictly a project for next year and protection for the likelihood of Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson both leaving as free agents, or he isn't much of a player and won't be any time soon. The former No. 4-overall selection has been credited with only two assisted tackles and one pass defensed with an orange C on his helmet, and all of that came in the defeat at Cincinnati back in Week 7.

Early word out of Tampa Bay is that the organization was ecstatic to get rid of Adams and turn him into a second rounder despite all the money invested in him, so general manager Jerry Angelo has to be questioned for targeting yet another player with impressive measurables but suspect ability.

3. Screen-pass success proves Forte can get it done with room to run
Matt Forte was only able to produce 41 yards on his 20 attempts against the 49ers, the fourth time in nine games he has averaged 2.2 yards per carry or less and the third time in five road contests. On the bright side, the second-year ball carrier was terrific catching passes out of the backfield, eight of them to be exact for a career-high 120 yards. He broke a couple of big plays on screen passes to the left, which were timed well by Cutler, adequately blocked downfield and saw Forte make a few nifty moves to get away from defenders.

Since Forte showed some shiftiness as a receiver out in space he should be able to do the same after taking a handoff, which is yet another indictment of an offensive line that continues to disappoint week after week.


DT Tommie Harris
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

4. Harris shouldn't need controversy to get himself fired up
Since Tommie Harris played his best game in recent memory, racking up three tackles and a sack in what was at times a dominating performance, one has to wonder what he has been waiting for all season long. The former Pro Bowler certainly had an extra dash of motivation heading to the City by the Bay after being a healthy scratch in Week 7 and getting ejected on the first series in Week 9, and you can make a convincing case that the Bears played so well defensively against the 49ers because Harris was leading the way up front. Since he lines up at the most important position in Lovie Smith's version of the Cover 2, the entire scheme fails when he's not a factor – or not on the field at all.

If this is what it takes to get Harris ready to play these days, benchings and fines and being ripped by media and and fans alike, he stands even less of a chance to collect the balance of his $40 million contract.

5. Start getting prepared for 2010 because the playoffs are long gone
Currently 4-5 and losers of four of five coming off of their bye week, the Bears stand very little chance of getting back in the postseason hunt and would be wise to begin getting the roster prepared for next season. Offensively, move Chris Williams to left tackle and see if he's the future there because Orlando Pace is playing with a fork in his back, and Devin Aromashodu deserves more of a look to determine if he can be the big receiver Cutler has lacked in the passing game. As for the defense, get rookie Jarron Gilbert on the field at both tackle and end to determine where he fits best, and figure out right now if free-agents-to-be like Ogunleye, Anderson, Jamar Williams, Danieal Manning and Josh Bullocks are worth keeping.

The Monsters of the Midway are only going to be favored in two of their remaining seven games, Week 13 vs. St. Louis and Week 17 at Detroit, so a losing record for 2009 seems inevitable at this point.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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