The Chicago Bears announced on Thursday that quarterback Jay Cutler will have surgery on his torn labrum. Head coach John Fox had previously said surgery would not be season-ending, but they could not find an alternative and he will go on injured reserve.
This is not breaking news, but confirmation of what had been reported the last few weeks. Matt Barkley started in place of Cutler last week, and will get the start this week against the San Francisco 49ers. His backup will be former San Jose State quarterback David Fales.
Barkley’s start last week was his first since 2013, and he put together some impressive numbers against the Tennessee Titans. He completed 28 of 54 passes for 316 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bears jumped out to a 7-0 lead after Barkley led the team on an 84-yard drive. The Titans then proceeded to score 27 unanswered points, taking a 20 point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Bears scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and actually had a goal-to-go situation on their final drive, but were denied.
The 49ers currently rank No. 29 in Football Outsiders’ total defense. FO ranks the 49ers No. 24 against the pass and No. 30 against the run. I imagine Jordan Howard will be plenty busy on Sunday, but I also suspect the 49ers will play a similar defense to what they did in Miami this past weekend. They were more willing to crowd the line and force the Dolphins to throw. Ryan Tannehill made them pay for that philosophy, but I would hope the 49ers are willing to give it another go against a quarterback like Matt Barkley.