Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/17/12
This Monday night showdown has all the makings of a classic old school defensive battle.  Both teams lost their starting quarterbacks to concussions this past Sunday and Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the game.  It will be tough for any quarterback, let alone a backup, to move the ball on Monday night as both teams boast top tier defenses. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was cleared to return to practice on Thursday.  He was a limited participant during practice, but is expected to be able to play Monday night.  The news is not as promising for the Chicago Bears as Jay Cutler was not cleared to practice and is not going to start Monday night.  Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has stressed the importance for any player to get reps in practice before returning from an injury. “As a general rule, we would like for guys to [practice] at least by Friday; get some type of practice work in. But for some of our guys that have been around a while, if we get to game day and they haven’t practiced and they feel like they can go, they’ll play,” Smith said. Since Cutler is unable to go on Monday the Bears will turn to veteran Jason Campbell to start under center.  Campbell has had plenty of NFL experience, but he needs time to get on the same page as the Chicago Bears receivers.  He will benefit greatly this week from taking all of the reps with the first team offense.  First team reps will allow Campbell and the receivers to get a better feel for each other, which was noticeably lacking against Houston.  He will need all the reps he can get though because the 49ers defense ranks 5th in the NFL in opponents pass yards per game. There is more to this game than the availability of the starting quarterbacks though. The Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will make his return from a hand injury Monday night in San Francisco.  Chicago has sorely missed Jeffery and his ability to use his size to beat man coverage and take attention away from Brandon Marshall.  Jeffery’s return could be the boost that the Bears need in order to overcome the loss of Cutler. The key for the San Francisco offense will be pounding Frank Gore early and often.  They might not be successful running the ball right away against the formidable defensive front of the Chicago Bears, but they will need to stay committed to the ground game if they hope to move the ball consistently.  A big back like Gore will wear out a defense as the game goes on and his running lanes will start to get bigger. Anyone who likes to see offenses light up scoreboards might be disappointed with this match-up, but that does not mean the game won’t be entertaining.  These are two of the top teams in the NFL and the field will be littered with superstars on both sides of the ball.  Since the Bears will be without Cutler they will struggle mightily to put up points and if Alex Smith is able to go for San Francisco then the 49ers should be able to get a win on their home field.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Top takeaways from NFL Championship Sunday

Six incredible stats from the Belichick/Brady era in Boston

You wont believe how much Super Bowl tickets cost

Tom Izzo issues statement clarifying Larry Nassar comment

Brady cracks joke about hiding his hand injury from media

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brady, Patriots are Super Bowl bound again

Is Nick Foles having elbow problems? Speculation persists

Rob Gronkowski suffers concussion in AFC championship game

Dolphins open to drafting QB in first round

Former Cavs coach David Blatt takes funny shot at his old team

Neck surgery will end playing career of Miami CB Malek Young

Behind the scenes: History of the Super Bowl in pictures

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

Top 10 X-factors for Conference Championship Games

Case Keenum deserves better than the also-ran description

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

Bears News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Behind the scenes: History of the Super Bowl in pictures

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker