49ers

49ers Week 2 primer: Niners set to open new home against Bears

It was a moral-boosting opening week for the San Francisco 49ers, as they overcame significant losses on their defense to beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-17. Despite the score being respectable, the game was never actually that close as the 49ers used four Dallas turnovers to help them build a 28-3 lead.

Week 2 will mark a historic moment in the franchise’s history as the team will take on the Chicago Bears in the inaugural game at Levi’s Stadium. The Monsters of the Midway are coming off a bad home loss to the Buffalo Bills and will look to spoil the Niners’ big night.

Recent History

The last time these two teams hooked up, it marked the beginning of the Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco. Subbing for an injured Alex Smith, Kaepernick dissected a strong Bears’ defense to the tune of 243 yards passing and two scores. Aldon Smith added 5.5 sacks as San Francisco demolished a Jay Culter-less Chicago team 32-7.

The rest of 2012 would see the 49ers ride an 11-4-1 record to a bye in the playoffs and a Super Bowl appearance, while the Bears went into a bit of a tailspin. They entered the game at 7-2, and would finish 10-6 and out of the playoffs all together.

Players to watch

Just how healthy is Michael Crabtree?

The receiver was listed as questionable on the injury report with a calf, but did play in the season opener. Despite the opportunity to perform in front of his hometown, Crabtree had little impact on the game with only two catches on four targets. He watched most of the second half from the sideline.

It will be interesting to see if the lopsided nature of the game caused the team to minimize Crabtree as a precaution, or the injury is a little more severe than originally thought. How much the offense turns to him in Week 2 is something to keep an eye one. 

While Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (who’s dealing with a hamstring) are beasts in the passing game, the difference for the Bears might be running back Matt Forte.

The 49ers were uncharacteristically pushed around by the Cowboys’ offensive line, and saw DeMarco Murray have a big day with 118 yards on the ground. 95 of those did come in the first half, as Dallas was forced to throw more after getting down early in the game.

If the Bears can get similar push upfront, we could see a heavy dose of Forte.

Game-changing factor

The main reason the Bills were able to upset the Bears in their own building in Week 1 was because of a dominating running game. The Bills used three running backs to gain 174 yards on 27 carries (6.4 per attempt) which helped set the tempo.

The 49ers will most likely do the same with their two-headed monster of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. The tandem carried the ball 23 times against Dallas and gained 116 yards. They did so without arguably their best run blocker, Alex Boone, in front of them.

Boone was still not ready to play after holding out during the preseason, but should be back in the fold in Week 2. If the 49ers can impose their will on the Bears’ defensive front, it will keep Chicago’s high powered offense off the field.

Stats to know

Vernon Davis is now alone in fourth place on the all-time touchdowns list for a tight end with 55. He trails Shannon Sharpe for third place by seven scores. 

Davis has been on the receiving end of 65 percent of Kaepernick’s touchdown passes over the last 17 regular season games. He’s caught 15 of the quarterback’s 23 scores through the air.

Bottom line

The Bears will bring an explosive offense to the table and it’s possible they can light up the scoreboard if the 49ers haven’t fixed their defensive issues. Whether or not cornerback Tramaine Brock (turf toe) plays could also have an impact on trying to slow down Chicago.

Still, the Niners look to have enough firepower of their own to keep up with anything the Bears can throw at them. Expect Cutler to make one or two more mistakes than Kaepernick in this one, as San Francisco gets a win to open up their new digs, which according to CBS is going for 12% below the season average for 49ers tickets.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a contributor to 49erswebzone.com and Ninerfans.com. He's been a guest on numerous podcasts and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY.
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