49ers week 13 preview and pick: San Francisco at Chicago Bears

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Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first start as a 49er this Sunday at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

The tale of Jimmy Garoppolo will add another chapter this week as the San Francisco 49ers travel to Chicago to face the Bears.

Garoppolo entered the game for QB C.J. Beathard after C.J. suffered a knee injury in the waning moments of the game against the Seahwaks. Garoppolo looked impressive in a small sample size as he led the 49ers to a late-game scoring drive. That drive, just like Garoppolo’s tenure in New England, has been characterized by high performance in small sample sizes. Sunday marks the beginning of finding out if Garoppolo is capable of being the Niners quarterback of the future.

The Chicago Bears present an opportune opponent for Garoppolo to begin his tenure as the San Francisco starting quarterback The Bears are an average defense, with an average pass rush, and aren’t intimidating in any regards. With the porous play of the 49ers offensive line, there is no guarantee that Garoppolo will have the requisite time to find receivers downfield. However, facing the Bears presents Garoppolo with an opportunity to showcase his skill-set under the watchful eyes of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

San Francisco will their second win on the season as they travel to Soldier Field at 10:00 a.m. PT and can be seen on the CBS Network.

Essentials to win the game
For the Niners, they will win or lose up front. The offensive line has had up and down showings throughout the year, and as of late, has been playing poorly. The return of RT Trent Brown should bolster the line’s performance, which would bode well for Garoppolo. In the event Brown is unable to play, Garoppolo’s mettle and escapability will be put to the test throughout the day.

Kyle Shanahan can get his big guys in rhythm by establishing the run early. If the Niners are able to have success on early downs, Shanahan will be able to utilize his penchant for play-action passing to exploit Chicago’s secondary.

Defensively, San Francisco has to corral Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and force Chicago rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky to outduel the 49ers. There is some angst in the Bears locker room. On Monday, WRs Tre McBride and Josh Bellamy were overheard yelling at one another in the Bears training facility. When the dust settled, McBride was released by Chicago Tuesday afternoon. The argument can be an indicator of internal discord within their ranks.

Possible downfalls to avoid
San Francisco must protect Jimmy Garoppolo at all costs. Against the Seahwaks, QB C.J. Beathard was knocked out of the game and his status is unclear moving forward. Any injury to Garoppolo will stunt 49er brass from properly assessing what they have in him, and would further befuddle any attempt to adequately assess their organizational plans moving forward.

Player spotlight
This is easy – Jimmy Garoppolo. Much has been said about his skill-set, poise, and the potential capacity to lead a franchise. In spots, Garoppolo has been impressive.

While in New England, Garoppolo led the Patriots to a sound victory against a stout Arizona Cardinals, when he filled in for a suspended Tom Brady. In the preseason, Garoppolo dazzled crowds, just as he did in spot duty against Seattle. On Sunday, all eyes will be squarely on San Francisco’s newest asset. Emerging healthy at the QB position is just as important, if not more, than emerging victorious.

Game Projection
This game is going to be decent. San Francisco and Chicago enter the week with pedestrian offenses, but that was before Jimmy Garoppolo got the starting nod. Don’t sleep, San Francisco and Chicago will trot out their quarterbacks of the future. Tutelage from the game’s greatest coach and quarterback in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady should help provide a foundation for the development of Garoppolo’s career.

With Garoppolo under center, San Francisco will provide glimpses of what their offense has the capacity of becoming. RBs Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida will keep the Niners on schedule and ahead of the chains against the Bears. Carlos Hyde will rush for over 100 yards and a touchdown, as Matt Breida contributes 60 rushing yards.

Garoppolo will connect with WR Marquise Goodwin for a deep score. Goodwin will finish the day with 85 receiving yards and a touchdown and Garoppolo will finish 245 passing yards 2 touchdowns and 1 interception on the day.

Mitchell Trubisky will face an injury riddled defense that plays with great effort. If Trubisky is not careful, the San Francisco defense can make his day miserable. The 49ers, led by rookie LB Reuben Foster, will corral and thwart the efforts of Bears RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, making the Bears one dimensional. Cohen and Howard will combine for 90 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns. The Bears are going to lose this game because Trubisky will be forced to throw more than what the Bears would like. Trubisky will pass for 295 yards, a touch-down, and 3 INTs on the day.

The Niners currently sit as a 3.5 point underdog and are 5-6 against the spread for the year. San Francisco will move their record to 6-6 on the year as the Niners open the Garoppolo era with a 24-17 win over the Bears.

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