Alright, the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears are squaring off this weekend, and it’s time for some predictions from Windy City Gridiron and Niners Nation. I exchanged a handful of questions with WCG’s Jeff Berckes, and predictions mark the final part of it. You can check out my five questions and answers with Jeff here.
Both teams are playing for pride, but a sizable chunk of both team’s fanbases are hoping for a loss to boost draft positioning. The 1-10 49ers sit at No. 2, while the 2-9 Bears are at No. 3, tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This game has potentially huge implications at the top of the draft, and that makes it a little more interesting than your usual game between two bad teams.
Jeff and discussed who we think would win, and also our thoughts on the fan bases and how they feel about a potential win or loss.
I'll predict the 49ers win a close one. I think Colin Kaepernick is a tough matchup for the Bears defense without their inside linebackers to control the middle of the field. I saw plenty of the bad Kap last year that got him benched, but I also remember his debut against the Bears where he ran like crazy. If he's playing inspired football, there's no way the Matt Barkley machine can win a shoot out. As much as I love the emergence of Jordan Howard, he's not likely to beat eight- or nine-man boxes if Barkley can't push the ball down the field. Howard's two flop games were with Brian Hoyer where teams dared the Bears to beat them deep. If I were SF, I'd stack the box and collect interceptions from Barkley.
I think the fan base is always split on this. When I watch the game, I cheer for a win - that's just reflex and it's in your gut and your heart. But, after the game, my brain will be pleased with a loss because I rationally know that there's more value at the top of the draft - even if it's just for a trade - and that this season is lost. But I'm not rational on Sundays in the fall...
I think we see the 49ers win this one. I would prefer the loss to help draft order, but the 49ers are playing a little better lately, and as Jeff is aware, the Bears are a baaaaaad football team right now. Colin Kaepernick and Carlos Hyde have both put up solid numbers this season, and I could see the 49ers offense having a big performance against the Bears beaten-up defense.
I agree with Jeff in regard to heart vs. head. When the 49ers make a big play, I still get excited in a good way. But I recall last week against Miami as they were pushing the comeback, I was feeling all sorts of conflicted during that final drive. I was enjoying the drive, but draft position crept into my head. I don’t think I would be thinking about this five or six weeks ago, but with prime position staring the 49ers in the face, it’s hard to not think about draft position and what losses mean.