San Francisco hosted Seattle last week and couldn’t really compete as they fell 24-13. Rookie QB CJ Beathard managed a poor 5.3 yards per attempt despite two-thirds of the Legion of Boom missing, while Carlos Hyde struggled, with just 2.9 yards per carry. Russell Wilson tossed two TDs and ran for one more against a defense that wore down in the face of just five third down conversions by the offense. However, they did get a look at Jimmy Garoppolo late on after Beathard got hurt. The ex-Patriot ran for a first down and completed both his passes, one of which went for a late TD to Louis Murphy.
Chicago were dominated all day by Philadelphia in Week 12, eventually losing 31-3. Chicago managed just 16 plays in the first half as they failed to convert a single third down, meanwhile the Eagles moved at will, taking a 24-0 lead into half-time. Mitchell Trubisky was far from impressive, though the odds were stacked against him. He managed just 147 yards on 33 attempts, throwing two interceptions, while getting no help on the ground. Jordan Howard managed just six yards.
After much anticipation, the 49ers announced that Jimmy Garoppolo will be starting this week. CJ Beathard’s injury opened the door, and Garoppolo smashed through it in just three plays.
He was meant to be the future in New England, but now he is the future in San Francisco and his performance will be as scrutinized as anyone in the league on Sunday. There are high expectations after his play for the Patriots last year, and how he adjusts to Kyle Shanahan’s system and the lack of talent around him will go a long way to identifying if he is the guy for the 49ers next year or not.
Running the ball
Both these teams will want to run the ball. Chicago’s inability to last week really hurt Trubisky, and the 49ers will have to keep a balance for a quarterback who only arrived a month ago. Neither of these QBs will be playing with a full playbook, which makes success on the ground a must.
Both of these teams are playing for very little right now. They aren’t going to grab a wildcard, and in Chicago there is a lame duck aura around John Fox. Can the players maintain motivation and put in strong performances?
Matchup to Watch: Reuben Foster vs Jordan Howard
These are two young, hungry, and impressive players. With Chicago’s offensive line trying to control a talented 49ers defensive line, it will be up to Howard to win some one-on-ones with Foster, who has been as impressive as San Francisco had hoped he would be in his rookie year.
Fantasy Tip: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo
With Matt Ryan going against Minnesota’s defense, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott struggling, and Matthew Stafford facing the Ravens, it’s not a terrible idea to stream Garoppolo here. The Bears defense has worn down this season and is vulnerable, the only question is if he gets enough attempts in a tight game to get to 250 yards. If he does that with a couple of TDs it will be well worth the risk.
Betting Tip: Stay away
The line is Chicago (-3), basically making it a wash, but both these teams are so flawed and inconsistent that it would be foolish to wager on either.
Prediction: 49ers 20 – 13 Bears
Garoppolo is an NFL quarterback and right now Mitchell Trubisky isn’t, or at best is not being allowed to be. The Bears’ lack of receivers and John Fox’s brutal lack of creativity is really limiting Chicago’s offense. This should be a 49ers win, and the first step to a better 2018.
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