SAN FRANCISCO — It’s going to be Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell vs. San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick at Candlestick Park on Monday night.
According to an ESPN report on Monday morning, 49ers starter Alex Smith has been ruled out against the Bears. Despite practicing four days in a row on a limited basis and it being widely thought he’d start against the Bears, Smith hasn’t been cleared of his concussion.
While admitting Kaepernick poses some different challenges, the Bears have said all week leading up to “Monday Night Football” that their game plan doesn’t change based on who is in at quarterback for San Francisco.
“They’re still going to be a running football team and the pass will be secondary,” coach Lovie Smith said.
No one runs the ball like the 49ers in the NFL. They lead the league in rushing, averaging 170.2 yards per games, by using a variety of looks behind an offensive line that’s touted for its physical, in-your-face approach.
And, there’s running back Frank Gore.
“He’s one of the better running backs in the NFL, if you ask me — very underrated, doesn’t get a lot of pub but he does a lot of the dirty work for them,” linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “Just get a bunch of guys to the football. There’s going to be some missed tackles. That’s just the way the game goes. But if we get 11 guys to the football, wrap him up, we should be OK.”
The 6-4, 230-pound Kaepernick, though, adds to that running game.
While Smith is athletic enough to make things happen on the run, Kaepernick can turn two-yard gains into 10-yarders or longer. He ran for 66 yards, including an 18-yarder and seven-yard touchdown run, last week against the St. Louis Rams.
Smith, though, is one of the highest rated passers in the league. He has a 104.1 quarterback rating, completing 70 percent of his passes for more than 1,700 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
” Looking at film, the backup he’s running around a lot — tall, long legs, really likes to escape the pocket,” Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton said. “I think he’s gonna try to play the same game of not turning the ball over and not making mistakes.”
Urlacher said the Bears won’t overlook Kaepernick’s ability to throw.
“[When] he came out of college, he did a bunch of different things in the running game. But he throws it really well,” Urlacher said. ”He’s got a really good arm. He obviously scrambles well. He’s fast. They do some of that read-option stuff that Carolina did with Cam [Newton]. It’s just a different change-up with them. They do that stuff with Alex Smith as well because they’re both fast guys.”
As for the notion that Kaepernick always was going to start, Lovie Smith said recently that the Bears always were preparing to see both quarterbacks.
“Both guys have played some, so we’ve had a chance to see them both,” Smith said. “Both good athletes, good size. I don’t think they’ll change up their game plan based on who’s in there. They’re a running football team that can pass the ball, so that’s what we’re planning on seeing.”