Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers (-5, 35.5)
Monday's night's marquee matchup between the host San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears hardly lacked for storylines, pitting a pair of legitimate Super Bowl contenders featuring two of the top defenses in the league. However, it's the off-field news that has dominated the headlines leading into the encounter between the division leaders of the NFC West and North. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Jay Cutler were each knocked out of last week's game with concussions, and on Thursday came the news that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was undergoing a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat.
Harbaugh, according to the team, was expected back at the team's facility Friday. ESPN reported that he made a brief appearance at practice Thursday and was sent home upon the recommendation of team doctors. Smith was given the green-light to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday but didn't receive medical clearance Monday morning to play. Cutler did not practice this week and will give way to backup Jason Campbell.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: 49ers -5, O/U 35.5.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-50s with under partly cloudy skies. Winds will blow out of the south at 9 mph.
ABOUT THE BEARS (7-2): Last season, Cutler had directed the Bears to five straight wins and a 7-3 record before suffering a broken thumb. The Bears went on to lose five straight with untested Caleb Hanie and retread Josh McCown under center. That's the main reason Chicago upgraded its backup plan by signing Campbell. The former Oakland Raiders QB was 11-for-19 for 94 yards in the second half of last week's 13-6 home loss to Houston. Running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush may get a heavier workload against a defense that has suddenly been more vulnerable against the run, allowing a pair of 100-yard rushers. Brandon Marshall has 51 catches and six touchdowns in the last six games, and Chicago will again lean on a defense that has a league-high 19 interceptions, including seven for TDs.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (6-2-1): San Francisco would be in a tie with Chicago for the second-best record in the NFC had David Akers converted a 41-yard field goal in overtime in last week's 24-24 tie with St. Louis. The 49ers also benefited from two penalties in OT that prevented the Rams from winning. One big positive for the Niners was the play of second-year QB Colin Kaepernick after Smith was forced to leave the game with blurred vision. Kaepernick guided San Francisco to 17 fourth-quarter points, completing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and running for 66 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Frank Gore just missed his fourth 100-yard game, rushing for 97 yards and a TD, and Michael Crabtree had five catches for 70 yards and his third scoring reception in two games.
* Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
* 49ers are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. NFC foes.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Under is 5-0-1 in 49ers’ last six vs. a team with a winning record.
1. San Francisco and Chicago rank 1-2 in the league in fewest points allowed with 14.1 and 14.8, respectively.
2. Campbell, a first-round pick of Washington in 2005, has made 70 career starts. He has thrown for 74 TDs and 50 interceptions.
3. The teams last met in San Francisco in November 2009, with the 49ers intercepting Cutler five times in a 10-6 victory. The 49ers have also won all three postseason meetings.