Bears at 49ers -- Week 11
Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco (grass, outdoors)
When: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spread: 49ers by 6
Forecast: Partly cloudy, high 50s
Records: Bears (7-2, 1-1 in NFC North); 49ers (6-2-1, 2-0-1 in NFC West)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 12, 2009: 49ers 10, Bears 6; Oct. 29, 2006: Bears 41, 49ers 10. San Francisco has won the last seven at home against the Bears. Series record: 49ers lead 30-27-1.
What matters: Chicago currently sits as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture, with San Francisco just behind. A win for San Francisco would vault the 49ers ahead of the Bears for the coveted first-round bye, at least for the time being. Both teams win with defense: the 49ers rank No. 3 in total yards per game (292.1) and the Bears are No. 5 (296.8). They are the league's top two scoring defenses with both teams holding their opponents to under 15 points per game. It all adds up to what should be a close, low-scoring game.
Who matters: The quarterbacks. San Francisco officially listed QB Alex Smith as questionable (concussion) on its injury report Saturday, but he took part in practice throughout the week on a limited basis and he is expected to start on Monday. With Smith slowed due to the concussion, backup Colin Kaepernick saw an increase in his reps and could see an increased role against the Bears. At this point, Smith still gives the 49ers their best chance to win, but Kaepernick's continued development brings up questions about the team's future at the position. Chicago's QB situation is clear: Jason Campbell will start in place of Jay Cutler, who also suffered a concussion last week. Campbell hasn't started a game since Week 6 last year for the Raiders, when he left with a broken collarbone that effectively ended his time in Oakland.
Key matchups: K David Akers vs. the yips. Akers hasn't been terrible, but he's certainly not kicking at the level he did in 2011 when he set the NFL record with 44 FGs and was named first-team All Pro. Akers had a chance to win the game against St. Louis in OT, but his 41-yard attempt missed wide left. … RB Frank Gore vs. Bears D. The 49ers running game ranks No. 1 in the NFL, but it hasn't seen a defense quite like Chicago, which ranks No. 4 in the league against the rush. It'll be imperative for Gore to get going early to take pressure off Smith (or Kaepernick).
Injuries of note: Other than Smith's concussion, CB Chris Culliver (shoulder) was the only player limited in practice this week. He was listed as probable. Also listed as probable: RB Anthony Dixon (hamstring), S Dashon Goldson (ribs), LB Tavares Gooden (elbow, quadricep), C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle), RB Frank Gore (ribs, wrist), G Mike Iupati (quadricep), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist) and LB Patrick Willis (shoulder).
Connections: Bears LB Blake Costanzo and LB Chilo Rachal were on the 49ers last year. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was the Bears' first-round pick in 1987 and played for the team for seven seasons.
Stat you should know: Gore leads all active players with 677 yards on Monday Night Football and the 49ers could tie Dallas for the most wins (43) all time on Monday Night Football with a win.
Bulletin board quote: "He's just kind of there to just not … don't mess up the game." --Bears DT Henry Melton on 49ers QB Alex Smith
Looking ahead: The 49ers will travel to New Orleans next week and remain on the road the following week for a rematch against St. Louis.
Prediction: 49ers 17, Bears 13