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Alex Smith, Jay Cutler suffer concussions a week before 49ers-Bears Monday Night Football

We break down the 49ers and Bears QB situations in light of concussions suffered by both Alex Smith and Jay Cutler.

Brian Bahr

The San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears square off on Monday Night Football in a week, and both teams could very well find themselves in a conundrum at the quarterback position. The 49ers lost QB Alex Smith to a concussion in the second quarter of their 24-24 tie with the Rams. The Bears lost QB Jay Cutler to a concussion in the second quarter as well of their 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans. They were two of several concussions suffered during Week 10 action.

Alex Smith suffered his concussion on a 4th and 1 quarterback sneak. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith is going through the league protocol for returning to the field. This will require Smith pass at least a pair of neurological tests, which include being asymptomatic at rest and after exertion. This is Smith's second concussion in the last two seasons. He suffered one against the Cowboys last season, but it was not diagnosed until after the game, and made known to the media until the following Wednesday practice participation report.

Lovie Smith reportedly is hopeful that Cutler will be back next week, but again, Cutler has to go through the same concussion protocol as Smith. Both teams do not have to issue injury reports until Thursday, so it will likely be a couple days before we hear more about either QB's status for next Monday.

If either is unable to go on Monday, Colin Kaepernick would start for the 49ers and/or Jason Campbell would start for the Chicago Bears. Both had their moments following the loss of the starter, but Kaepernick definitely looked better in the 49ers tie. Kaepernick completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards, while rushing eight times for 66 yards. Kaepernick seemed a bit jumpy early on, but calmed down to a certain extent as the game wore on.

This coming Monday's game is fairly pivotal in the NFC playoff battle. The 49ers sit at 6-2-1, while the Bears are 7-2 and currently controlling the second seed in the conference. The 49ers lucked out with the other three division winners losing. The 49ers gained a half game on all of them, which likely removes tie-breaking scenarios from being an issue. Nonetheless, taking down the Bears would be huge for the 49ers chances at securing a first round bye. Whether that happens with Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick remains to be seen, although the challenge presented by the Bears defense will be great no matter who is quarterback.