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Opponent breakdown: 49ers


After an exciting holiday victory last week, the Bears (5-6) return to action on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (3-8) at Soldier Field. Here's a breakdown of Chicago's Week 13 opponent:

What's new: For the 49ers, nearly everything is new. Since the Bears faced them in Week 2 of the 2014 season, the San Francisco franchise has undergone essentially a complete overhaul, keeping only their red and gold uniforms. Coach Jim Harbaugh is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, running back Frank Gore is in Indianapolis, quarterback Colin Kaepernick is on injured reserve, a bunch of key defenders are at home retired and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is actually in Chicago with the Bears. In their place are new head coach Jim Tomsula and quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the "faces" of the new-look Niners, who have struggled after winning their season opener.

What's old: At age 35, Anquan Boldin would seem to be past his prime. Yet there he is, leading the 49ers in both receptions and yards by a considerable amount. Still one of the league's premier possession receivers, the 13-year veteran has 44 catches for 558 yards on the year, with 28 of those going for first downs. Boldin doesn't have premier speed anymore, but he regularly gets open because of his strong route running. He's also got some of the strongest hands around, allowing him to make plays in traffic.

Last time out: Gabbert threw for 318 yards, but the 49ers offense could only reach the end zone once in their Week 12 home game against Arizona. That proved to be problematic against the explosive Cardinals offense. The teams were tied for much of the game, but Arizona finally went ahead with about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, then held on for a 19-13 win. San Francisco had possession for just over 22 minutes, compared to 37 minutes the Cardinals had it.


Sunday will be the 64th all-time meeting between the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. Web writer Eli Kaberon picks the 10 best games from the longtime series.

Series history:** The 49ers have been frequent foes of the Bears over the years. From 1950 through 1966, both teams were in the NFL's West Division, meaning they played twice a year. Even after that, they've been common foes, both in the regular season and playoffs. Since their first meeting back in 1950, the teams have met 63 times, with the 49ers holding a 32-30-1 edge in the all-time series. Chicago won the last game, 28-20, to spoil the opening of the Niners' new stadium in 2014.

Injury report: San Francisco's leading rusher, Carlos Hyde, has missed four consecutive games because of a stress fracture in his left foot. The setback has removed one of the only game changing players from the 49ers offense, and it is unknown if Hyde will suit up again this season. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks also missed the game against Arizona, as he has yet to pass the concussion protocol test after taking a hit to his head in Week 11.

Schemes and tendencies: Under Harbaugh, San Francisco was one of the NFL's top rushing powers. From 2011 to 2014, the 49ers ranked top eight in rushing yards per game each season. This year, with a new coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback and running back, than ranking has dropped to 20th, 97.1 yards per game. The 49ers have been especially bad running to the right. Through 11 games, the team has run 78 plays behind their right guard, right tackle or an extra tight end of the right side of the line. Those plays average just 2.68 yards per carry, among the worst in the entire NFL.

Did you know: Bears head coach John Fox is 4-0 lifetime against the 49ers, having been at the helm for two other teams to defeat San Francisco. He beat the 49ers in 2004, 2007 and 2010 as the coach of the Carolina Panthers. Last season, as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Fox led his team to a 42-17 win over San Francisco. His counterpart on Sunday, Tomsula, has never faced the Bears as a head coach.

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