X-and-O Show: Bears vs. 49ers

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Thursday night's 10-6 disaster to the 49ers in Week 10 at Candlestick Park.

Bears on Defense: Stop for Loss
Third quarter. 2nd and 7 at the San Francisco 23-yard line. The 49ers line up in a power-I set with QB Alex Smith under center. FB Moran Norris and RB Frank Gore are stacked in the backfield. TE Vernon Davis is strong left with receivers Josh Morgan and Michael Crabtree on the opposite side. The Bears counter with a 4-3 defense. Eight men are in the box, including S Danieal Manning. Before the snap, Morgan motions inside and then back out.


DT Tommie Harris
Getty Images: Harry How

At the snap, Smith hands off to Gore running up the middle left. The offensive linemen all block left using a man-blocking scheme. The play is designed as a cutback, as Norris and Gore step left and then cut to the right side. Norris heads to the backside to block DE Adewale Ogunleye, who was unblocked at the line. At the same time, DT Tommie Harris uses a lightning-fast swim move to fly right past G David Baas. Harris is in the backfield almost immediately and drops Gore for a 3-yard loss.

Apparently, Harris's ejection from the previous game woke the former Pro Bowler out of his three-year slumber. He recorded his first sack of the season and played a large part in helping the defense hold the 49ers to just 216 total yards on the night. On this play, Harris showed a flash of the talent and athletic ability that made him an All-Pro in 2005 and earned him three Pro Bowl appearances. He is arguably the most crucial cog in this defense, so if his knee is finally healthy and he's able to play at a high level again, it will go a long way toward bringing this unit back to respectability.

Bears on Offense: First of Five
Second quarter. 3rd and goal at the San Francisco 1-yard line. The Bears line up in a goal-line set. QB Jay Cutler is under center with FB Jason McKie and RB Matt Forte stacked in the backfield. Tight ends Kellen Davis and Desmond Clark are positioned on the right edge of the line with Kevin Shaffer tackle-eligible on the left edge. The 49ers counter with their goal-line defense: five down linemen and four linebackers in the box.


QB Jay Cutler
AP Images: Marcio Jose Sanchez

At the snap, Cutler fakes an up-the-middle handoff to Forte. Shaffer stays in to block, and the backside is sealed off by the offensive line. Davis releases immediately, allowing LB Parys Haralson a free run into the backfield. Forte picks up Haralson, though, and drops the defender to the turf. McKie releases into the right flat, and Clark runs to the right back corner of the end zone. Davis releases from the line a second after Clark and runs a 5-yard hitch. Cutler, under no pressure, fires the ball to Davis. DT Aubrayo Franklin, who got no penetration and instead shuffled down the line of scrimmage, is standing right in the passing lane. He pulls in the interception and rumbles to the 10-yard line before being taken down.

Not only was Franklin between Cutler and Davis, but so were linebackers Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis. Had Franklin not caught the ball, one of the two linebackers would have. One has to wonder what Cutler saw when he threw the ball into triple coverage in the end zone on a third down from the 1-yard line. He now leads the league in red-zone turnovers. Apparently, he does not understand the value of getting points in the red zone. All three receiving options were covered on this play, yet instead of throwing it out of the back of the end zone and taking the three points, he forced the ball to a receiver that wasn't even close to being open. Had they gotten three points on this drive, the Bears would have had to only kick a field goal in the last minute of the game for the victory instead of needing a touchdown. In essence, this interception, one of the worst I have ever seen, cost Chicago the win. It's obvious now that Cutler will never be what everyone expects him to be unless he quits turning the ball over. Otherwise, this team will continue to lose and the Rex Grossman comparisons will get ever louder.


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Jeremy Stoltz is the editor-in-chief of The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.


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