By Sam McPherson
The San Francisco 49ers are 1-10 this year, and the team is starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Fortunately for Garoppolo, almost everyone is healthy on the offensive depth chart this week, and the defense has put most of its major injuries behind it. Not counting players on the injured-reserve list currently, this is the healthiest the active roster has been all season heading into a game.
The Bears are just 3-8 themselves, with a rookie QB at the helm, and Chicago has lost four straight—including a 31-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. The Bears defense has been solid, but this week, Chicago’s secondary could be missing up to five players, and that means the 49ers might be able to take advantage with Garoppolo’s experience.
Offensive tackle Trent Brown questionable with shoulder injury
Trent Brown missed the Seattle game last Sunday with a shoulder injury, and this week in workouts, Brown was a limited participant on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The 49ers will want as much protection for Garoppolo as they can get, and this season overall, the S.F. offensive line has allowed 35 sacks to opposing defenses. The more time Garoppolo has against a Bears defense that has registered 30 sacks this year the better. Look for Brown to start the game and, hopefully, finish it despite the sore shoulder.
Minor issues in the secondary for the 49ers defense
Neither safety Adrian Colbert (thumb) nor cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle) are listed as starters for San Francisco, but both are questionable for Sunday. The good news is they are the only two members of the defense on the official injury report. The 49ers defense has struggled most of the season due to injuries and fatigue, but this matchup against Chicago is a good one for a healthier San Francisco defense.
Linebacker Reuben Foster was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November, so it’s great news for the 49ers to have both him and rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas healthy. The two top picks for the S.F. organization in last spring’s draft are now healthy after overcoming injuries earlier in their first NFL seasons. The Bears offense is ranked 29th in both points scored and yards gained, so the 49ers could be looking at a good defensive day on Sunday.
Chicago secondary is vulnerable, thanks to injuries
Garoppolo will face a decimated Bears defensive backfield, as Chicago has five members of the secondary listed on the injury report Friday. With S Adrian Amos (hamstring—doubtful), CB Deon Bush (ankle—questionable), CB Bryce Callahan (knee—questionable), S Deandre Houston-Carson (ankle—questionable) and CB Cre’von LeBlanc (illness—questionable) all dinged up, look for Garoppolo to throw downfield more than C.J. Beathard has been doing as the S.F. starter. The 49ers’ passing game could be primed for a season-best effort on Sunday.
- (OT) Trent Brown (Shoulder) — Limited Participation In Practice
- (S) Adrian Colbert (Thumb) — Limited Participation In Practice
- (CB) Ahkello Witherspoon (Ankle) — Limited Participation In Practice