When the Bears take on the 49ers on Sunday, keep an eye out for the following matchups:
Bears LB Leonard Floyd vs 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey
Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd was hampered by injuries in his first two seasons, limited to 22 games through his first two years. This year, Floyd has stayed healthy enough to remain on the field through the first 14 games of the year and proven what an asset he is week in and week out. Floyd’s biggest strength lies in his versatility to drop back in pass coverage when he’s not rushing the passer. The 2016 first-round pick has as many passes deflected (4), as he does sacks this season. Floyd is coming off his best pass rushing effort of the season. He recorded two sacks and three total quarterback hits against the Packers last week.
In the 49ers he’ll face an offense that he performed well against last time he faced it. In a 2016 game, Floyd tallied two sacks including a safety against San Francisco. They have a new look now, including rookie offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. The 49ers selected McGlinchey in this past year’s draft ninth overall, one spot after the Bears picked linebacker Roquan Smith. The rookie tackle has looked to be a solid investment so far, starting each game. While McGlinchey has looked as though he could be a staple up front for San Francisco for years to come, the offensive line has struggled as a whole protecting the quarterback. The 49ers’ 3.1 sacks allowed per game is tied for seventh most in the league.
Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky vs 49ers DE DeForest Buckner
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said he thinks the Bears haven’t even played their best football yet. That could spell a long day for the 49ers on Sunday. Trubisky is coming off a stellar bounce-back performance in Chicago’s win over the Packers in which he completed 20 passes for 235 yards and threw for two touchdowns. It was the type of showing that the Bears are hoping to see more of as the they move toward the playoffs. Trubisky faced the 49ers last year and had a solid outing, completing 80 percent of his passes and throwing for a touchdown.
This year, as the Bears travel out west to take on San Francisco, their biggest concern should be 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner. Despite being out of the playoff picture, Buckner may be playing with an extra chip on his shoulder this Sunday. The third-year defensive player was left off of the NFC Pro Bowl roster despite putting up some more-than-worthy numbers so far. Buckner has 11 sacks this season and 60 tackles — one of just four players with at least 60 tackles and 6.5 sacks this year. Buckner is coming off one of his best games, a win over the Seahawks in which he tallied a team-high 11 tackles, four tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.
Bears CB Prince Amukamara vs 49ers TE George Kittle
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara has done it all this season. The veteran member of the Bears secondary has racked up 61 tackles, 11 passes deflected, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown. On a Chicago defense that has diced teams up, Amukamara has been the Swiss Army knife, etching his name all over the stat sheet. Amukamara was at it again last week, contributing four tackles and a pass deflection as the Bears defense once again led the way to victory against the Packers and held quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a 59.5 passer rating.
Amukamara will face another challenge in San Francisco in 49ers tight end George Kittle, who was recently named a to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Kittle is having a breakout season in his first full year as a starter. The second-year tight end has 72 catches for 1,154 yards this season and has found the end zone four times this year. His total yards rank second among tight ends in the league, and he’s already set the new 49ers record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end. Kittle’s 6-4, 250-pound frame makes him a tough matchup for opposing secondaries, but if Amukamara can continue to be a nuisance downfield -- his 11 passes deflected are tied for 12th most in the league among cornerbacks -- then the Bears secondary should be able to contain the 49ers’ aerial attack.