The San Francisco 49ers visit the Chicago Bears in Week 13 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 31
Coverage by: David Neumann
Matchup: San Francisco 49ers offense vs. Chicago Bears defense
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo on play action — It took an injury to rookie C.J. Beathard to get there, but 49ers fans will finally see Garoppolo take the field as a starter this week against the Bears. With limited playing time to this point in his career, it’s difficult to draw too many meaningful conclusions from the data right now. One thing to keep an eye on early, however, will be Garoppolo’s performance with play action. During his brief stint as New England’s starter last season, Garoppolo had the NFL’s best passer rating without play action (133.6), but the fourth-worst with it (61.8). Kyle Shanahan has called for play action on just shy of one-quarter of San Francisco’s passing attempts this season (23.4 percent, 11th most) despite playing from behind most of the time, so Garoppolo should have plenty of opportunity to prove that to be nothing more than small-sample-size theater.
- WR Marquise Goodwin vs. CB Kyle Fuller — With injuries taking their toll on San Francisco’s receiving corps, Goodwin has become the team’s No. 1 wideout. While his numbers in recent weeks haven’t been gaudy, he’s performed well when given the opportunity, earning 81.2 and 76.0 overall grades in his last two games, while hauling in 5-of-8 targets for 161 yards and a score. Goodwin does most of his damage on deep passes (those traveling 20 yards or more in the air), where 140 of those yards have come. Fuller has been targeted heavily on deep passes this season, but he’s largely held up well. On 16 deep targets (fourth most among cornerbacks), he’s allowed a passer rating of just 56.3 into his coverage, surrendering zero touchdowns on six receptions while picking off one pass and breaking up three others.
- G Brandon Fusco vs. DI Akiem Hicks — Running the ball could prove problematic for the 49ers this week against a Bears defense that ranks third in PFF’s run-defense grading and is giving up just 2.26 yards after contact per carry, the league’s second-best mark. To find success on the ground, San Francisco will need to start by finding a way to control Hicks up front. Hicks has been one of the NFL’s best run stuffers this season, leading all defenders with 25 run tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage that prevented a first down. Fusco, who has the best run-block grade among 49ers offensive linemen (78.5), will be the man predominantly tasked with blocking Hicks on Sunday.
PFFELO Ranking: 26
Coverage by: Lorin Cox
Matchup: Chicago Bears offense vs. San Francisco 49ers defense
- TE Daniel Brown vs. S Eric Reid – Over the last three weeks, Brown has played the most snaps of any Bears tight end (100). During that span, he has been the team’s third-most targeted player (11), but his six catches is only the fifth-most on the Bears. 52.6-percent of his snaps this year have seen him lined up at a wide receiver position, and eight of his 12 total targets this season have come from the slot. Reid has been targeted 26 times this season, and 13 of them have come in coverage against tight ends. His only touchdown allowed this season came against a tight end, but that was also the case for his two interceptions. His 70.4 overall grade ranks 63rd among safeties.
- G Kyle Long vs. DI DeForest Buckner – Long is the middle of his lowest-graded season at 73.8 overall. He’s given up two sacks, one hit and eight hurries on 213 pass-blocking snaps, already allowing one more total pressure than he did in 2016. He’s also been flagged five times this year after being only flagged once over the same number of snaps (431) last year. Buckner is the 49ers leading pass-rusher this season with two sacks, 16 hits and 21 hurries on 366 pass-rushing snaps. He also leads his defense with 26 total stops, which is tied for the fourth-most among all defensive tackles. Buckner’s six missed tackles, though, are the most at his position.
- WR Kendall Wright vs. CB K’Waun Williams – Wright is the Bears’ highest-graded receiver this season at 73.2 overall, which ranks 55th at his position. 72 percent of his routes this season have come out of the slot, although only 26 of his 46 targets have come from there. Bears quarterbacks have a 96.7 passer rating when targeting Wright, the highest of the team’s receivers. Williams is the fourth-lowest graded cornerback in the NFL this season at 39.4 overall. He’s allowed catches on 37 of his 47 targets this year for a completion percentage of 78.7 that is the third-worst at his position.