The 49ers have an important matchup this coming Monday against the Arizona Cardinals, but unlike Jim Harbaugh and company, we can look ahead to some of the other matchups on the 49ers schedule. Given last night's Monday Night Football contest between a former 49ers opponent and a future 49ers opponent, now seems as good a time as any to consider that matchup.
The 49ers and Bears will meet up for Monday Night Football on November 19 in a game that will wrap up the 49ers NFC North schedule for the season. The last time these two faced off was a Thursday Night Football contest in 2010 that saw the 49ers emerge with a fairly ugly 10-6 victory.
This year's Bears are once again strong on defense (ranked No. 1 by Football Outsiders heading into this week), but are incredibly inconsistent on offense. In their Monday Night win over the Lions, Chicago should have by won by at least double. Aside from a late touchdown that got the Lions a backdoor cover, Detroit could not do much of anything on offense. They got some rushing yards from Mikel LeShoure, but I think that had as much to do with the Bears compensating a bit more in the passing game. That worked well for them as they completely shut down Calvin Johnson in the first half, and held him to a minimal impact in the second half.
Given the Bears defensive shutdown, the inconsistencies on offense were that much more glaring. Much like our 49ers at times, they did not need a fantastic showing from the offense, but that doesn't make it any less of a concern for their fans. The Cutler-Marshall connection is looking fairly solid for them, but Cutler can't seem to hit much of anything else.
The Bears now sit at 5-1 in the NFC North, sitting half a game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings. I think the Bears remain the team to beat in the North, and that Monday Night Football matchup could prove huge in the battle for a potential first round bye. We are not even halfway through the season, but second half storylines are already starting to shape up. Let's hope that matchup still has sizable playoff implications next month!