49ERS GAME AT A GLANCE/h3>
Opponent: Chicago Bears
Time: 5:30 p.m. Line: 49ers by 6 1/2
Records: 49ers 6-2-1, Bears 7-2
TV/radio: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden), 680, 1320
MATCHUP TO WATCH
49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith vs. Bears left guard Chilo Rachal
The 49ers once had high hopes for Rachal, a second-round pick in 2008. But the big guard didn't realize his promise, and he was relegated to a backup role behind Adam Snyder last season in San Francisco. The 49ers did not attempt to re-sign him during free agency, and he landed in Chicago. One of Rachal's weaknesses was that he was slow off the line of scrimmage, something that Smith and his line partner, Aldon Smith, should be able to exploit. The 49ers' defensive line was shoved around at times last week against St. Louis and hopes to bounce back.
THREE KEYS TO GAME
Slow starts have hurt the 49ers in three games this season. If they can take an early lead, the team's defense and running game will be in a position of strength.
Alex Smith has been sacked 24 times, and he suffered a concussion last week. Some of those hits are Smith's doing. He must take more care in throwing the ball away and sliding properly when on the run.
This criticism hasn't been made recently, but the 49ers' defensive line must be more stout against the run than it was a week ago. Without starting quarterback Jay Cutler (concussion), the Bears will turn to their ground game.
Questionable: QB Alex Smith (concussion)
Probable: CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), RB Anthony Dixon (hamstring), S Dashon Goldson (ribs), LB Tavares Gooden (elbow, quadricep), C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle), RB Frank Gore (ribs, wrist), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
Out: QB Jay Cutler (concussion), DE Shea McClellin (concussion), DT Matt Toeaina (calf)
Probable: WR Alshon Jeffery (hand), DT Henry Melton (back)
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