Four additional thoughts as we head towards San Francisco:
- If Alshon Jeffery does not play Sunday night, and all evidence seems to be pointing in that direction, attention shifts to two individuals: Martellus Bennett and Santonio Holmes. Bennett looked like one of the better tight end receiving threats in the league in week one and his rapport with Cutler seems to have grown precipitously in their second off-season together. Holmes came to Chicago to rejuvenate a self-sabotaged career and never will have a better opportunity to showcase that rejuvenation than in prime time against one of the better teams in the league.
- Matt Maiocco at CSN Bay Area breaks down the matchup between Bennett and Niners linebacker Patrick Willis:
Tale of the tape
Willis (52): 6 foot 1, 240 pounds, eighth season, Mississippi
Bennett (83): 6 foot 6, 265 pounds, seventh season, Texas A&M
Willis returned to the mike linebacker position this season, taking over NaVorro Bowman’s old role. He found himself in coverage against Dallas tight end Jason Witten in the season opener.
Willis came through with a big day, holding Witten to just two catches for 14 yards and providing a big play with an interception in the end zone.
“I feel like we did a decent job, but I always feel like we can be better,” Willis said. “I always feel like I can be better.
“There were times I could’ve played a little tighter. Every week is a challenge, and I won’t tell you something I wake up looking forward to every day is going out there and covering, but we do what needs to be done.”
- From Rich Campbell’s piece in the Tribune, regarding Cutler (Not a huge cause for optimism):
Visiting the 49ers in the inaugural game at their new Levi’s Stadium was going to be difficult enough without injuries to five first-stringers on offense. The Bears, then, are counting on Cutler to be a stabilizing presence amid the personnel uncertainty.
“Just be on my game,” Cutler said.
“And just keep … everyone moving because ultimately those guys are going to mess up from time to time,” he said. “We’re going to line up wrong. So it’s just staying calm, keep an eye on the play clock and make sure we stay in rhythm.”
- Bears need a big performance on special teams Sunday night. Get something from the return. Limit return options for the Niners. Make every field goal. Pin them deep a few times. A shaky performance from the third phase will hamstring any chance the Bears have of pulling the upset.