Thursday's 60-second rant: Bears-Niners bash weighing heavy on brain

Posted Nov. 15, 2012 @ 2:39 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Like many readers of this rant, I suspect, I’m having a real hard time getting my head straight regarding this week’s upcoming Monday-nighter between the Bears and Niners — a pair of teams with concussed starting QBs considered to be questionable prime-time participants as I write this.

Based on what is being reported — and what I’m hearing from sources in both the Bay Area and right here in the Windy City — the 49ers’ Alex Smith probably has a better than 50-50 chance of suiting up for the game.

Meanwhile, the Bears’ Jay Cutler, who has been kept under wraps this week in a manner that would make the U.S. government’s Witness Protection Program envious, would appear to have a less than 50-50 chance of playing, especially considering the lengthy plane ride that could put him in a state even more altered than it already is.

However, there still is the possibility of a “Backup Bowl” featuring the Niners’ Colin Kaepernick, who actually looked pretty decent last week in relief of Smith against the Rams after he settled in a bit, against the Bears’ Jason Campbell, who I personally didn’t think looked nearly as bad as so many of my Chicago-based constituents seem to think.

Just last night, for instance, it took all the objectivity I could muster to get my pal Gus, the proprietor of Bobo’s Gyros just down the street from where I live, off the ledge in his grave concern over Campbell, whom he considered a major downgrade from Cutler after watching the ex-Redskin-Raider signalcaller literally tread water out of the bullpen in a losing effort to the Texans last Sunday night.

“He looked terrible!” shrieked Gus as he completed my carryout order. “WE are in trouble!”

Easy, Gus. While you might be right about the Bears being in real danger of dropping their second game in a row to a heavyweight playoff contender, it won’t be because of Campbell, who I predict will do a decent job if elected to run the Bears' offense Monday night.

A much bigger problem is the mental gymnastics that I’m guessing are driving the Bears’ defensive coaching staff batty as it ponders the divergent paths it will have to navigate matched up against either Smith or Kaepernick.

Prediction time: While I become more uncertain the more I think about a potential winner in this game, I have a strong feeling that Kaepernick will be utilized on Monday night even if he does not start in place of Smith — perhaps in what turns out to be a pivotal manner. There have been occasions this season when the Niners’ strategy of working Kaepernick into the mix in special spot situations has proven to be counterproductive.

But I’ve got to think Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, who once quarterbacked the Bears, has more than a few tricks up his sleeve for this game, and my gut tells me Kaepernick will somehow come into play.

One last thought: Perhaps an even bigger factor than the starting QBs worth pondering are both teams' normally strong run defenses that looked so run-of-the-mill last week. While the Rams’ duo of Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson was consistently knocking the Niners’ "D" back on its heels, particularly right up the middle, Houston’s Arian Foster was doing a number on a Bears "D" that will be facing the league’s most creative and multifaceted run game by far four nights hence.

In closing, here’s the most pertinent question: Who will have a more productive Monday night — Frank Gore or Matt Forté?

If it’s Gore, the Niners win. If it’s Forté, the Bears win.

Now that we’ve got that straight, I think I’ll polish off my leftover hot chicken wings from Bobo’s.

They're certain to clear my head in a heartbeat!