Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.
3-2 49ers the best? To Ditka they are
Originally published Oct. 8, 1985
Perhaps it’s testimony to how far the unbeaten Bears have come in such a short time: Sunday’s game against the defending Super Bowl champions means more to the San Francisco 49ers than it does to the Bears.
Bear coach Mike Ditka paid the proper respect and heaped the requisite praise on the 49ers yesterday, saying, “San Francisco is still the best team in football.”
But, Ditka said, “This is not the end of the world. This is the sixth game of the season. We’re looking forward to it I’m sure as much as San Francisco. But it’s only a game.”
To be sure, it’s a game the Bears want to win badly, if for no better reason than to erase the memory of last year’s 23-0
embarrassment in the NFC championship game, also played at Candlestick Park.
5-1 at worst
But if the Bears lose, they will still be 5-1 and at least one game ahead of their nearest division rival. They also will remain 3-0 within the NFC Central.
If the 49ers lose, they will drop to 3-3. That will put them three games behind the unbeaten Rams in the NFC West, if the Rams beat winless Tampa Bay.
Maybe San Francisco’s sense of urgency is why the bookmakers have installed the 49ers as 3 1/2-point favorites. “I think we should be favored because we’re an undefeated team,” said Bear linebacker Otis Wilson. “Their record isn’t as good as ours.”
“We’re approaching to where the 49ers were a year or two ago when they were making their move,” said Ditka. “But I don’t think you are champion until you are. Period. And they are. They wear the crown, the mantle of success.”
Ditka admitted he views the San Francisco game as a “barometer” of how good the Bears have become. But in the next breath, he added, “Only until we play Dallas and Miami and all the other good teams.”
The most meaningful aspect could turn out to be what each team learns from the other in the event they meet again in the playoffs.
“That’s when the importance of this game will really be measured,” said Ditka. “If I were a betting man, I’d say there’s a very good chance of us meeting again. But I don’t bet.”
Meanwhile, Ditka appears to be tiring of the constant reminders that the 1963 Bear team that won the franchise’s last NFL championship lost its sixth game against the 49ers in San Francisco after a 5-0 start.
“I vaguely remember that game,” he said. “But 1963 was a long time ago. If we can keep playing football, we can make people think about 1985 instead of 1963.”
Ditka said he expects defensive linemen Richard Dent and Dan Hampton to play against the 49ers. Both were hurting the day after the Bears’ fifth victory, a 27-19 win in Tampa, Fla.
Hampton sprained an ankle and Dent suffered a hip pointer. Ditka also said quarterback Jim McMahon and tight end Emery Moorehead were both “sore” from the Bucs’ game.
McMahon took a vicious blind-side hit from linebacker Hugh Green midway through the final period when running back Walter Payton, normally an excellent blocker, missed his assignment.
“It looked like it could’ve been spearing,” said Ditka. “Those things are sometimes done out of frustration. Maybe Green was a little overzealous at that point.”
“It’s sore,” said McMahon when asked about his neck. “But no more than the regular Sunday feeling. It was a clean hit.”