I had a chance to chat with the folks at Windy City Gridiron, and they were kind enough to answer five questions I had about the team. I ended up breaking down the questions with two about the Bears offense, two about the Bears defense and one about special teams. I thought I'd split them up into multiple posts focusing on the specific areas.
Niners Nation: Cutler/Campbell remains the big story for you guys. It appears like Cutler is doubtful for Monday (Fooch's note: Cutler has since been declared out). How comfortable are Bears fans with Campbell running the offense, and if Campbell starts, will the game-plan change?
Windy City Gridiron: I'm confident in Campbell, but as can be expected, most of us fans would rather have Cutler under center. A concussion is nothing to mess around with, so hopefully he sits Monday night out. As for the game plan, I doubt it changes much. Campbell is more cautious with the ball, so we may see him check down a bit more. He's not as athletic as Cutler, so the Bears may not roll him out much. No other player received more money to be a back up than Campbell, so he better play like a starter.
NN: How are Matt Forte and Michael Bush being utilized? Does it vary by game, or is it a specific system no matter the opponent? How has the Bears run game been in 2012?
WCG: Most Bears fans would tell you they aren't used enough. The playcalling from Mike Tice has been called into question all year, the Bears have been trying to establish the run, they just haven't had much consistent success. Poor first down execution has put them in too many 2nd and longs. Michael Bush has been the goal line and short yardage back, but he also gets a few series a game to spell Forte.
Campbell got a sizable one-year deal for $3.5 million to back up Jay Cutler. Campbell had spent the previous two seasons with the Oakland Raiders before departing after a broken collarbone cost him his job. He had some solid moments last season, but last week's 11 of 19 performance was his most prominent such appearance this season.
As WCG pointed out, Campbell is not quite the gun-slinger Jay Cutler is. The 49ers linebackers could be in for a long day of work in dealing with potential check-downs, while also holding the fort against the Bears rushing attack. I still think Michael Bush is a guy to keep a close eye on this Monday. Matt Forte is the leading rusher, but Bush brings the skill set that has troubled the 49ers in recent weeks.
Given that Jason Campbell is not quite the traditional big play threat at this point, it really does seem like this matchup, on both sides, will be settled inside the box. There will be plays out wide and deep, but I just have a hunch tight end to tight end and the first ten yards past the line will be a critical area on Monday.