Bears vs. 49ers: What to Watch 4

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San Francisco 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin celebrates as he heads toward the end zone on an 83-yard touchdown reception against the Giants on Nov. 12. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is the fallen Giants defender. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images).

Key matchup

Big plays usually are the culprit in losses to bad teams such as the 49ers. That was the case in 2015, when Blaine Gabbert had an unlikely 44-yard touchdown run with 1:42 left in regulation, then threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in overtime in a 26-20 victory against the Bears at Soldier Field.

Receiver Marquise Goodwin is the player the Bears will have to keep an eye on. The former NCAA sprinter/jumper and Olympic long jumper leads the NFL in yards per catch (21.4) on 27 receptions for 578 yards. He has an NFL-best four receptions of 50 yards or longer (83, 55, 51 and 50), plus a 48-yarder.


MORRISSEY: Mitch Trubisky had better get the chance to shine Sunday

Fundamental fixes: What Mitch Trubisky can learn from Jimmy Garoppolo

Bears cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara will be on the spot after uneven-at-best performances the last two games. Amukamara has five penalties this season, including four in the last three games: pass-interference calls against the Packers (29 yards) and Lions (34 yards) and two holding calls against the Eagles.


In the last five games, the Bears’ defense has fallen from sixth in yards allowed (303 per game) to 12th (328) and from eighth in yards allowed per play (4.9) to 14th (5.2). They allowed 420 yards last week to the Eagles, including 272 in the first half before the Eagles took their foot off the gas.

The likely return of linebacker Danny Trevathan figures to give the Bears a boost. Trevathan has missed the last three games with a calf injury. In his absence, the Bears allowed a then-season-high 160 rushing yards to the Packers in Week 10 and a season-high 176 rushing yards to the Eagles last week.

Key player

Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky is coming off a season-worst performance against the Eagles (17-for-33 for 147 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, 38.3 passer rating), but he’s taking a major drop in class here. The Eagles were eighth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per attempt; the 49ers are 25th. So this game figures to be a better barometer of Trubisky’s progress.


Arlington Heights native Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his first start for the 49ers, four weeks after joining them in a trade-deadline deal with the Patriots.

Garoppolo played well as a backup for Tom Brady with the Patriots (including two starts last season), but now he’s with a 1-10 team and still is learning the offense. That sure seems like an opportunity for the Bears’ defense.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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