The last Super Bowl-winning team in Chicago Bears history was the last team of the proud franchise to win in San Francisco.
Since Mike Ditka’s Bears won 26-10 on Oct. 13, 1985, Chicago has lost seven consecutive games at Candlestick Park.
History aside, this year’s Bears team, led by coach Lovie Smith, enters Monday’s matchup in the Bay Area confident about ending the seven-game road slide to the 49ers.
Chicago’s starting quarterback Jay Cutler has not returned to practice this week, but Smith is encouraged by the strides being taken behind the scenes.
“He’s getting better which is a good thing,” Smith said in his conference call with 49ers beat writers on Thursday.
If Cutler is unable to play, the Bears are comfortable with backup signal-caller Jason Campbell.
“We felt like we needed to improve our backup quarterback position in the offseason,” Smith said. “We felt really good about convincing Jason to come out here and be Jay’s backup. We’ve been with him awhile and I just love the way he prepares off the field. He’s a pro.”
Smith not only feels like Campbell is starter-caliber, but added, “We feel very comfortable with him leading us.”
As for preparing for San Francisco’s starting quarterback Alex Smith, the Bears head coach has his team preparing for both 49ers quarterbacks, backup Colin Kaepernick included.
“We’re going to prepare for the quarterback position for the 49ers,” Lovie Smith explained. “Whether it’s (Alex) Smith or Colin, there’s a difference between the two of them, but the 49ers are a running football team we have to start with that… It won’t change much with who the quarterback is going to be.”
While the Bears coach doesn’t see much variance between 49ers quarterbacks, he knows there’s only one Frank Gore.
“I see a special running back,” Smith said of the runner with 753 yards on the season. “It’s not like it’s all of a sudden happen this year, he’s been a good player in this league for a long time.”
Similar praise for Gore also came from Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. The Sacramento native discussed the quality players on the 49ers offense, but made a point to stress his respect for San Francisco’s all-time leading rusher.
“They attack,” Briggs said of the 49ers’ top-ranked rushing attack (averaging 170.2 yards per game). “They understand their running system. Frank Gore, he finds holes. Kendall Hunter, is very quick, he gets to the second level very fast.”
Briggs let it be known he respects the entire offense.
“All quality players over there,” he said. “We know what we’re dealing with, a great 49ers team.”
Briggs also expect “Monday Night Football” to be a matchup of two of the league’s toughest defenses. He also knows only one of them will walk away content after the game.
“It’s an opportunity, definitely a big opportunity,” the 10-year veteran said. “Two NFC teams and we’re all fighting for the postseason, not only that but home-field advantage.
“We know that the 49ers have a great defense. They know we have a great defense. Obviously it’s going to be one of those weeks where one of the defenses is going to outplay the other.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter
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