Bears focus on winning on road against 49ers
Now that the Chicago Bears have clinched a postseason berth, they can focus on trying to pick up a road win Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and possibly improve their seeding in the NFC playoffs.
The Bears secured the NFC North title last Sunday with a 24-17 victory at home over the Green Bay Packers. They're still in the running for one of the top two seeds in the NFC, which would give them at least one extra home game if they're able to advance.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky wants the Bears (10-4) to prove that they can win on the road after a victory at home.
"It's kind of like coming off a bye or coming off a loss," Trubisky said. "It's how you're going to respond to it. We've clinched; there's certain ways you can go about this and we've just got to have a workman's attitude, come to work, continue to get better, stay rested and try to go 1-0 each week.
"It doesn't matter if it's the regular season, postseason. We've just got to continue to get better, stick together and want to do great things. It starts every single day, every single week."
Trubisky hasn't been as sharp on the road as at home this season. He owns a 97.2 passer rating at Soldier Field, but on the road his rating has been 87.6 He missed two road games with a shoulder injury and the Bears are 2-2 away from home in his starts.
The Bears' offense wants to show their mettle against the 49ers' defense on the road.
"You just have got to look at your opponent and continue to go out there, do your job and play football," Trubisky said. "So it doesn't matter if it's the regular season or the playoffs, we know that things will ramp up once we get there but I do believe we're ready and we've just got to have that mindset. We've got to keep getting better and be ready for it no matter what."
The Bears are 7-1 at home but 3-3 on the road, so they can prove a good deal by winning their final two games.
"The great teams find a way to win on the road and take that to the next step," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. "Our guys understand that. We're going to have two road games here in a row that are going to be challenging. I don't think there's any magic to it. Every game is a little bit different when you talk about games on the road."
Nagy thinks the 120.4 passer rating that Trubisky posted in the victory over Green Bay can go a long way toward boosting his confidence in a playoff game. A 12-yard touchdown pass to Trey Burton was one of Trubisky's best passes of the season, Nagy said.
"So, for him, I think it's going to be a matter of staying within the system, trusting his coaches, trusting his teammates, not trying to do too much but yet not holding back," Nagy said. "You saw in the game he's still using his legs. He made a great throw to (Adam) Shaheen on the ad-lib play, scrambled and made a great throw. So he's got all that in him.
"We're not there yet. But in a couple weeks when we get there, the guys are going to feel that there is another level to it. That's down the road. He's got to keep growing here in the next two games."
Despite two straight wins, a surprising recent history of success in December, a win against this same team last season, and the fact that they'll be playing at home, the 49ers (4-10) are the underdog this week against the Bears and their tenacious defense.
"They play sound, but they keep everything boxed in," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "They're very good in their front seven. They have the personnel to do it and the scheme to do it. With their edge setters, they have big guys inside who don't have to move at all because of how well they set the edge on the outside, which helps your linebackers not have to be in much space.
"And they play physical. They've always had a pass rush. They do different ways of it. They do have some pressures and stuff, but they rarely run pressures that makes their coverages vulnerable."
The 49ers won't have to face Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who won't play because of a foot injury. The hope is that he might be ready for a wild-card round playoff game.
Deon Bush will take Jackson's place in his first start since 2016.
"I've been here for three years so I know a lot more than I knew in the past," Bush said. "And I'm just going out there and just playing fast right now."
Updated December 19, 2018