For the first time this year, San Francisco has more players listed on their injury report then their opponent. Every player is healthy enough to play though, while Chicago will be missing a few players, including their starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Outside of Cutler though, the major players will be on the field, which should lead to a competitive contest.
Alex Smith Will Play
The 49ers do not have a single player with an serious injury, however, they are starting to see the minors ones start to add up. Frank Gore and Tavares Gooden are both walking around with multiple injuries and more names are starting to find themselves on the injury report each week. Nobody on the football field is 100% this late in the season, and the entire team is still healthy enough to suit up so there is really no concern, but it is certainly something to watch moving forward. Chicago is a very physical opponent that will apply some hits on the 49ers players, so it will be important for the 49ers to leave the game just as healthy as they entered. Just last week San Francisco saw the ill effects of an injury taking down a starter, and will hope that they injury bug that has avoided this team does not rear its ugly head now that they are in the second half of the season. The fact that Alex Smith is listed as questionable is more strategic then anything else. It also is just the way it works, as doctors will continue to monitor him until right before the game. But Smith will be under center when the game starts.
Jay Cutler Not Playing Means Balance
Without Jay Cutler playing, the Bears may actually have a better chance at winning the game. Cutler is the starter, and the talent level is not even close between him and back up Jason Campbell. However, Cutler is a risk taker, and loves him some Brandon Marshall. In a game that figures to be a defensive struggle, the risk taking Cutler is someone that could hurt his team as much as help it. Marshall enters the game with 67 receptions, while the player with the second highest total is Earl Bennett who has 17, meaning Cutler does not really look anywhere else when dropping back, which allows the defense to focus solely on Marshall.
With Campbell running the show, the offensive game plan will be more focused on the run and when they are asked to pass the secondary will have to remain honest as Campbell may look to other options. Then again he may also follow Cutler’s lead and focus on Marshall, but either way the defense will need to control the line of scrimmage and keep Marshall under control long enough for the offense to put points on the board. There is no reason to underestimate the abilities of Jason Campbell who lost his starting job due to an injury, and after coming off a tie, San Francisco has even more motivation to remain focused.
San Francisco 49ers
*Linebacker: Tavares Gooden—Elbow, quadricep
*Running Back: Frank Gore—Ribs, wrist
*Wide Receiver: Mario Mannigham—Shoulder
*Defensive Tackle/Fullback: Will Tukuafu—Wrist
*Linebacker: Patrick Willis—Shoulder
*Cornerback: Chris Culliver—Shoulder
*Running Back: Anthony Dixon—Hamstring
*Safety: Dashon Goldson—Ribs
*Center: Jonathon Goodwin—Ankle
*Quarterback: Alex Smith—Concussion
*Wide Receiver: Alshon Jeffery—Hand
*Defensive Tackle: Henry Melton—Back
*Linebacker: Brian Urlacher—Not injury related
*Quarterback: Jay Cutler—Concussion
*Defensive End: Shea McClellin—Concussion
*Defensive Tackle: Matt Toeaina—Calf
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.