Welcome back for another week of San Francisco 49ers football! Drama off the field will take a back seat for at least a few hours on Sunday as the 49ers travel to face the Chicago Bears in Week 13. The game airs on FOX, and kicks off at 10:00 a.m. PT. The announcers will be Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston, with Laura Okmin on the sideline. The 49ers got the Chris Myers, Ronde Barber pairing the last three games, so this is a change.
The 49ers are 3-8, coming off 19-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. One of the big discussions lately has been the home/road splits. The team is fairly mediocre at home, but then they are truly awful on the road. The defense in particular has struggled in a big way. This week's game against Chicago will be an interesting one because the Bears are not a particularly good team. They've won three of four, but their talent level is in question.
Could this potentially be similar to the New York Giants game? The 49ers road losses were Pittsburgh, Arizona, New York, St. Louis, and Seattle. The Rams and Giants are the two worst among those teams, although the Rams won thanks to better defense and Todd Gurley (and 49ers own offensive woes). The Bears have bad defensive talent, but a strong coaching staff. The 49ers are a touchdown underdog, but this really does seem like a game in which they could hand close. I was tempted to take the Bears at -7, but then I thought about the 49ers moderate level of success at the Giants. This game sort of rings familiar.
Speaking of the Bears coaching staff, that is the other big talking point. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has slightly significant history with the 49ers, coaching a great defense under Jim Harbaugh. Fangio is coaching a defense that has nothing near the talent the 49ers had, but it feels like he is coaching them above their talent level. The 49ers offense has shown some signs of improvement under Blaine Gabbert. The per game point total has not increased significantly, but execution is improving. The 49ers own offensive coaching staff can't seem to get out of its own way at times, but maybe a matchup against the Bears defense can provide some kind of opportunity.
On the other side of the ball, Adam Gase is the offensive coordinator for a Bears offense that is showing serious signs of life. Gase interviewed with the 49ers for their head coach position, and seemed on the verge of getting the job before the 49ers decided on Jim Tomsula. There has been plenty of discussion about what went down, but Gase is now with the Bears. The offense got off to a slow start in part because Jay Cutler dealt with an early season injury. But the unit has settled down, and is getting healthy again. Running backs Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford provide a strong 1-2 punch, and will be tough to deal with in the passing attack. Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett are both healthy enough at this point. It will be a strong test for a 49ers defense that has been really bad on the road.
This all comes as the 49ers have dealt with Paraag Marathe's re-assignment from his role as team president. Some will view this as insignificant, and not worth thinking about in the context of the game. However, given the questions still hanging around, I do wonder if it has an impact in some way. Jim Tomsula denied tension with Marathe, but I would not expect him to say there was tension. He talked about not dealing a lot with him in the analytics, but if there is anything to the stories that have been floating around, maybe he comes in coaching a little looser on Sunday. I have no idea what to expect, and we won't really know for certain since this is all behind the scenes. But it's one more little nuance to this game.
Nuts and bolts
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Game time: Sunday, December 6, 10:00 a.m. PT
TV channel: FOX
Online streaming: NFL Game Pass on replay
49ers Radio: 680-AM, 107.7 (Ted Robinson, Tim Ryan) | Full listings
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin
Spanish Radio: KTRB 860-AM (Jesus Zarate, Luis Landero)
Odds: 49ers +7
Matchup history: 32-30-1
Enemy blog: Windy City Gridiron
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49ers regular season schedule
Week 1: vs. Minnesota Vikings - 49ers 20, Vikings 3
Week 2: @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Steelers 43, 49ers 18
Week 3: @ Arizona Cardinals - Cardinals 47, 49ers 7
Week 4: vs. Green Bay Packers - Packers 17, 49ers 3
Week 5: @ New York Giants Giants 30, 49ers 27
Week 6: vs. Baltimore Ravens - 49ers 25, Ravens 20
Week 7: vs. Seattle Seahawks - Seahawks 20, 49ers 3
Week 8: @ St. Louis Rams - Rams 27, 49ers 6
Week 9: vs. Atlanta Falcons - 49ers 17, Falcons 16
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: @ Seattle Seahawks - Seahawks 29, 49ers 13
Week 12: vs. Arizona Cardinals - Cardinals 19, 49ers 13
Week 13: @ Chicago Bears - Sunday, December December 6, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 14: @ Cleveland Browns - Sunday, December 13, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 15: vs. Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, December 20, 5:30 p.m. NBC (SNF)
Week 16: @ Detroit Lions - Sunday, December 27, 10:00 a.m. FOX
Week 17: vs. St. Louis Rams - Sunday, January 3, 1:25 p.m. FOX