Monday night in San Francisco, nothing went right for the Bears in their 32-7 loss against the 49ers.
Offensively the team struggled without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and the defense that has been so strong this season seemed to disappear against a team being led by an inexperienced quarterback.
The Bears will have a chance to redeem themselves this Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings travel to Chicago in an NFC North showdown.
Here is my list of five players to watch this Sunday:
After a string of somewhat solid performances from J’Marcus Webb, he reverted to his old ways Monday night against the 49ers.
Webb struggled mightily against Aldon Smith and the 49ers defense, struggling in run blocking and being beaten three times for sacks in the passing game.
He will not catch any breaks this Sunday as he will be lined up against All-Pro defensive end, Jared Allen. Allen destroyed Webb, last year in the last game of the season, sacking quarterback Josh McCown three and half times, falling just a half sack short of tying the NFL record set by Michael Strahan.
It is unknown whether or not Jay Cutler will be ready to return on Sunday, but regardless of who is back there, Webb will need to have one of his best games of the season for the Bears to have a shot at winning.
The big news coming out of practice on Thursday morning was the demotion of right tackle Gabe Carimi. Carimi had struggled mightily in the past few weeks, and Monday night’s debacle against the 49ers, in which he surrendered three sacks, may of just been the final straw.
Veteran Jonathan Scott, who was signed in early September, is expected to take Carimi’s place (h/t Chicago Sun-Times).
Scott is a six-year veteran and was the starting right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
Injuries have derailed the majority of his career, but he has great size (6’6″, 318 pounds) and above average athleticism. He has played both tackle positions in his career but has been a much better run blocker than pass blocker.
Given how poorly Carimi has played despite his potential, the move to put Scott in the starting lineup may be for inspirational purposes, but given his success in the past, he has the ability to solidify himself as the starter moving forward.
The safety position has always been an area of concern for the Bears since Lovie Smith’s arrival in 2004.
Major Wright had been making strides this season playing well against both the run and the pass, but appeared to take step back on Monday night.
He struggled in coverage against the bigger and more physical Vernon Davis; he missed tackles, and got called for a defensive holding penalty.
Sunday afternoon, the Vikings will pose a big test with the physical and tough to-bring-down Adrian Peterson and, if he is able to play, the fast and elusive Percy Harvin.
Wright will have to eliminate the mistakes that cost the defense on Monday night if they want the chance to slow down the Vikings offense.
Veteran cornerback Kelvin Hayden has seen his snaps continue to increase as the team’s nickelback, seemingly taking that spot away from D.J. Moore.
Hayden did not play his best game on Monday night, most notably giving up a long pass play to Kyle Williams.
The Vikings do not implement a lot of three receiver sets, but Hayden should once again find himself on the field for a solid number of snaps. Veterans Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson along with rookie Jarius Wright haven’t had the most statistically impressive seasons, but can still make an impact if they can get the ball in their hands.
The Vikings will likely try and spread out the defense in order to open up running lanes and Hayden may be relied upon to help stop the run in certain situations.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, rookie Shea McClellin will play Sunday after missing Monday night’s game with a concussion.
Before his concussion, McClellin was beginning to see more and more time on the field, particularly in pass situations. He has 2.5 sacks on the season but has proven his worth more with his ability to drop into coverage when needed. With a quarterback who can be elusive at times like Christian Ponder, he may find himself with more snaps while spying the quarterback.
He will need to prove he can contribute to stopping the run and with Adrian Peterson’s ability to run the football the Vikings may try to exploit McClellin’s struggles in the running game.
His spin move has been his best asset and if lined up at the left defensive end position, he should have an advantage over the slower moving Phil Loadholt.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.