The San Francisco 49ers have entered a dead period, with four weeks left until the team reports for training camp. Since we know the schedule, and most 90-man rosters are just about set, now seems like a good time to start previewing each of the 49ers opponents heading into training camp. With the help of the other 31 SB Nation blogs, we’ve come up with preview content breaking down where things stand for each team on a variety of issues. We’ve got a template looking at key additions and departures, big storylines and under-the-radar storylines heading into camp, and injuries to consider.
We’re going to run down the schedule, but I will be saving the divisional opponents for the end. We started with the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, and today we move on to the 49ers Week 13 opponent, the Chicago Bears. The 49ers travel to Chicago for the second straight season. The 49ers beat the Bears last season in an ugly but wild finish. The teams exchanged scores until the Bears were leading 20-13 late in the fourth quarter. Blaine Gabbert tied it up with a 44-yard touchdown run, and then completed a game-winning 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith to win it in overtime.
The Bears welcome Kevin White back after he missed his rookie season with a shin injury. He could be a huge addition for Jay Cutler and the offense. Of course, they also lost offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who was hired to be the Miami Dolphins head coach. Gase did some solid work with Cutler in 2015, and I’m curious to see how the offense works with former QB coach Dowell Loggains calling plays.
Here is what our friends at Windy City Gridiron had to say about their Chicago Bears head into training camp.
Notable free agent additions: ILB Danny Trevathan, ILB Jerell Freeman, DL Akiem Hicks, RT Bobby Massie
Notable free agent departures: RB Matt Forte
Trades: TE Martellus Bennett
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
1st Round OLB Leonard Floyd will at the very least be in on passing downs to rush the passer. His coverage skills could be put to use as well.
2nd Round OL Cody Whitehair is in line to start at left guard.
3rd Round DL Jonathan Bullard will be in the defensive line rotation.
5th Round RB Jordan Howard will be part of the Bears’ backfield by committee. The power element he adds could give him the edge on short yardage and goal line situations.
Biggest offseason addition: The two free agent inside linebackers will help get the Bears defense back to being respectable. Trevathan and Freeman are so much better (like really, really, better) than last year’s duo of Shea McClellin and Christian Jones.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: There are a lot of story lines to pick from, but I think most fans are excited to see 2015 first round draft pick Kevin White finally healthy. He missed all of last season with a shin injury, and if he’s all he’s cracked up to be, he will add a huge playmaker to the offense.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: So many to choose from, like the revamped front seven gelling, the running back by committee taking shape, the safety position figuring itself out, Jay Cutler meshing with new offensive coordinator, but a more obscure storyline could be 7th round pick Daniel Braverman. He’s a smallish and shifty slot receiver that Bears’ fans are already rooting for. If he has a good camp then follows it up was a decent preseason, some fans will have their new favorite player.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Fourth wide out Marquess Wilson broke his foot again and may end up on the PUP list. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is recovering from offseason knee surgery, but he should be 100% for training camp.