The Chicago Bears travel to Levi’s Stadium this weekend to play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. The game may become a battle of the reserves as both teams will be missing some key players.
For the Bears the most notable names are WR Brandon Marshall (ankle), who did not practice this week, and WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), who was limited in Friday practice. Both are listed as questionable, however I believe Marshall will play. Jeffery’s hamstring may be more of an issue and he was probably limited Friday to see if there were any setbacks with the hamstring. Jeffery was quoted after Friday practice, “I felt pretty good out there, but it ain’t a game. A game and practice is different”.
Brandon Marshall (6’4 – 230 lbs) and Alshon Jeffery (6’3 – 215 lbs) would be a match up problem for any defensive backs coordinator in the NFL, but if one, or both, end up not playing this weekend the Bears reserve list is scarce. NFL veterans Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan are the active backups although Morgan is being ruled as “doubtful” at the end of practice Friday. Both have plenty of NFL experience (Morgan with the 49ers for 4 years) but neither can have the impact that Marshall and Jeffery could have. Bears reserve WR Marques Wilson (6’4 – 185 lbs) could be active for Sunday.
What may be a bigger loss for the Chicago Bears could be C Roberto Garza (ankle) and OG Matt Slauson (ankle). Both have been ruled out for Sunday’s contest, and with the questionable injuries to Marshall and Jeffery that would mean the Bears would have looked to run the ball with Matt Forte but that could be a difficult task now. The 49ers gave up 118-rushing yards to Dallas Cowboys RB Demarco Murray and the run defense looks questionable without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith. Without their starting Center and Guard, the Bears could be weakened beyond recovery this weekend.
If the 49ers didn’t have enough injuries on the defensive side of the ball already, they certainly will have to dip into the reserves tank this weekend should CB Tremaine Brock (toe) and CB Chris Culliver (concussion) not be able to go. Both are listed as “questionable” and may be game time decisions. Rookie CB Jimmie Ward was not diagnosed with a concussion despite leaving the game vs the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. Perrish Cox and Dontae Johnson did a good job filling in for the starters last weekend, but that was when the 49ers were up 25-points. Should Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery be able to play it could be a real match up problem for the 49ers defensive backs that look pretty thin right now.
Both teams may be missing some players Sunday night, but I still believe the 49ers have more weapons and the ability to put up points on offense. The Bears have a gunslinger at quarterback in Jay Cutler who always has the potential for a big game either with lots of TDs or lots of INTs. With the lack of protection upfront, and possibly missing one or both main WR’s it could all add up to more than the Bears can overcome on Sunday Night. I see a blow out coming this weekend at Levi’s Stadium, 34-10, all 49ers.
Here is the entire injury report for both teams following Friday’s practice.