The Chicago Bears will be a bit short-handed when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. We've talked plenty about the potential absences of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (still no word on their questionable status). However, while those two are likely game-time decisions, we know for certain that the Bears will be without starting center Roberto Garza, and starting left guard Matt Slauson.
I asked our Bears blog what they thought about these injuries, and they had this to say:
Losing Garza isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world, as the aging center was capably backed up by Brian de la Puente. Slauson was replaced byMichael Ola, who is more of a question mark ...
I think de la Puente can come in and pass protect about as well as Garza did. He did start for the Saints, after all. He's arguably a better run blocker than Garza, too, so hopefully they can get some push in short yardage situations and not throw the ball on 3rd and 1 as much.
Michael Ola will likely see a lot of work at left guard in place of Matt Slauson. That's more of a concern because he is more green, and could be susceptible to just not having the lifetime reps that some of these other guys do. Generally speaking, I expect pass protection to hold up ok, as long as they stand up strong early.
Jeff Deeney from Pro Football Focus posted some grades for the two backups. Ola played 53 snaps to Slauson's 21, while de la Puente played 45 to Garza's 29.:
#Bears will be w/o two of their best OL in LG Slauson and C Garza, however Ola (+4.3) and de la Puente (+3.7) fared well last week. #49ers— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) September 13, 2014
PFF graded out Ola and de la Puente positively against the run, with a 1.1 and 2.8 respectively. The run is one area of concern for the 49ers defense following a poor performance in Week 1 against DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys.