I would be surprised if the Bears defense does not perform significantly better against the 49ers if the teams meet again. There were a number of factors that went into the Bears' poor performance that day. They did not know what to expect from Colin Kaepernick, who was starting his first game. And Kaepernick played out of his mind. Kaepernick is a fine young quarterback with a bright future, but he might not play another game at that level for a long time. The 49ers came up with a brilliant game plan and the Bears were completely caught off guard with some of the things the Niners were doing. The Bears' initial approach to covering tight end Vernon Davis was all wrong, and they paid a price for it. After they made some adjustments, he caught only one pass in the second half. The Bears struggled to get ball carriers on the ground in that game. That was out of character for them. The Bears are a sound team at taking angles and tackling. The defense was considerably better in the second half, though the game was out of reach by that point. After allowing 7.5 yards per play in the first half, the Bears allowed 4.9 in the second. And they held Kaepernick to 59 second half passing yards. What happened in that game is the defense started horribly and never was able to overcome it.
A lack of athleticism is not the Bears' problem. Among the Bears who I would say are among the top athletes in the NFL at their positions are Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Chris Conte and Devin Hester. The Bears have the athletes. And they have the football players, too. But they won't win a re-match with the 49ers unless they block the San Francisco defensive front much, much better than they did last time. That game could come down to the Bears offensive line.
What does the Lance Louis injury mean for his long term future? Does he get a modest deal until he can prove he comes back healthy? -- @catrader7, from Twitter
I will be surprised if Louis' knee injury changes the way the Bears feel about him. They like him a lot, and I think they still will want to lock him up long term. Players, especially linemen, come back from anterior cruciate tears all the time these days, usually without skipping a beat. Unless there is some sort of complication, I expect Louis will be re-signed and back in the starting lineup at some point next season.
Dan, what's your take on Edwin Williams? I thought he was better than expected when forced into service last season. I've been a bit surprised that Chilo Rachal was playing ahead of him. -- Mark Early, Arlington, Va.
I think Bears coaches are anxious to get a good look at Williams. The thing about him is he really hasn't had a chance to show exactly what he is. My feeling was that he might be best at center, but I'm not so sure anymore. Williams is not as athletic as Chris Spencer, and he's not as powerful as Chilo Rachal, but he has more power than Spencer and more athleticism than Rachal. So he is a blend, and he has a chance to develop into a decent starting guard as Lance Louis did.
I was wondering since the offensive line has suffered some significant injuries could/would Da Bears activate guard Chilo Rachal from the reserve/non-football injury list? -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
Rachal cannot be reactivated from the reserve/non-football injury list. There is no way he can suit up for the Bears this season.
How do the players feel about Chilo Rachal leaving the team so abruptly? And do you see him being on the roster next year? -- @Kieran Murphy92, from Twitter
Rachal burned a bridge when he walked out on the team last week. Different players may have different feelings about him. He was not a bad teammate during his time in Chicago. He worked hard and was pleasant to be around. But the bigger issue is how coaches feel about him. It would be pretty difficult for a player to regain the trust of his coaches after walking out on them. I'll be shocked if he resurfaces in Chicago.
Is it just me or are the Bears way more active with roster moves this year? -- Chris, North Haledon, N.J.
From the first game of the season through the 13th week of the season, the Bears actually were more active in 2011 than they have been this year. In 2011, they added 12 players to the active roster and 10 to the practice squad. In 2012, they have added eight players to the active roster and seven to the practice squad.
Does everyone, including that moron Tom Jackson, finally see just how valuable Jay Cutler is? -- @SirLomax, from Twitter
He is valuable, no question. But I think a lot of people are getting carried away with the Jay Cutler for MVP campaign. He's not the NFL MVP. He wouldn't even deserve to be a Pro Bowler at this point of the season. He would rank seventh among NFC quarterbacks in Pro Bowl-worthiness in my opinion, behind Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman. What you can say about Cutler is the Bears do seem to be a different team with him under center. He was awfully valuable against the Vikings. But he has not played like that consistently this year. And I don't believe the results would have been any different in San Francisco if Cutler had been under center instead of Jason Campbell.
Who are your league MVP front runners at this point? --@adge2159, from Twitter
I have Peyton Manning in the pole position. But really, the MVP will be determined over the next five games. I expect Manning will get most of his competition from two familiar names in the MVP discussion: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Between the three of them, they have won seven MVPs. Two other players who also could creep into the discussion, based on what they have done so far, are Adrian Peterson and J.J. Watt.
Any chance Bears would move up to get Manti Te'o or Tyler Eifert? -- @armyag3, from Twitter
As it stands now, the Bears would be drafting somewhere between 21 and 32. That means they likely would have to move way up in the first round to get a shot at Te'o. From what we know now, I think he's going to be a top 10 pick. I can't envision a scenario in which the Bears would make that kind of move. They need too many young players to give up multiple quality draft choices to get one player. As for Eifert, I think he could be chosen in the range in which the Bears would be picking. Selecting him might not require a trade-up.
What is your opinion of Eric Weems? To me, he seems to play on the hairy edge of being dirty, but has been solid as a replacement WR/KR. -- @Meryanttu, from Twitter
He is a good, solid special teams player who has helped fill the void left by Corey Graham's departure. I like the energy and determination that he brings to the kick and punt coverage units. He does tend to get a little out of control at times, though.
What do the initials GCS on the sleeves of the Bears' uniforms stand for? -- Rachel Huebner, Manitowoc, Wis.
The initials actually are GSH. And they stand for George Stanley Halas.
Adrian Peterson regularly finishes his runs by lowering his head, leading with his helmet, and spearing his would-be tackler, hardly an accidental maneuver. Several examples occurred against the Bears. Is spearing legal for a running back? -- Richard Palzer, Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Yes it is. Helmet contact by a runner who possesses the football is not a penalty. And neither is helmet contact by a defensive player against a runner who possesses the football.