Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand made it clear when Josh Beekman was inserted into the starting lineup at left guard at the start of the month that the Bears were not writing off the man he replaced, Frank Omiyale.
Sure enough, Omiyale resurfaced in Thursday’s loss at San Francisco, replacing Beekman at the two-minute warning while the Bears mounted a comeback effort that fell 12 yards short. Beekman struggled with 49ers defensive end Justin Smith at the beginning of the drive, and the switch was made.
“[Smith] was a big, strong guy. I was coming out battling him,” Beekman said. “They just wanted to get Frank in there, he’s a little bigger, against the guy. It almost worked.”
Beekman said as far as he knows he remains with the first team, and offensive coordinator Ron Turner should be able to address that issue later today. What the move back to Omiyale at the key point in the game does, though, is highlight the reason why the Bears set out in the offseason to find a bigger, more physical replacement for Beekman. That’s not to say Beekman didn’t do some things well in the game. About the only thing the offense did with any consistency was run some screen passes to running back Matt Forte to the left side, and Beekman and center Olin Kreutz did a nice job getting out on those plays and blocking.
“There were a couple good plays but you know there was a lot on the tape I needed to watch, learn from, just try to come out and get better,” Beekman said.
Asked about the move, coach Lovie Smith said: “We just liked Frank’s ability to pass block. We were in a different mindset there at the end of the game when we had to pass the ball. We like Frank a little bit more in that situation then.”
Omiyale might not be returning to the starting lineup this week, but he signed a four-year contract and he’s likely going to figure into the future of the line.
Check back later on today with highlights from the Jay Cutler press conference and more, including updates via Twitter.