The 14th ranked (by DVOA) 49ers head to Chicago (24th) Sunday in hopes to match the Bears Season win total, sitting at 3. The 49ers are coming off an upset home loss to the Colts in a bad weather game. According to EDJ Sports, it seems fair to give Jimmy Garoppolo and/or his pass protection a fair share of the blame, as the game clearly swung in the Colts direction after a sack fumble in the 3rd quarter. The Bears are coming in to the contest fresh off (what would have easily been predicted as) a “butt-whopping”, to the reigning Super Bowl Champs, had the Bears not managed an upset win vs the Bucs roughly 12 months ago. The Bears come in trying to stay relevant in the NFC North, while the 49ers are hoping to at least not finish in last place in the best division in football (NFC West).
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 6-7 *2 Underdogs winning outright
Best Bets: 14-6, Up 958%
- Opening Line: San Francisco -4
- Current Line: San Francisco -3.5
- Over/Under: 39.5
- Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
- Start Time: 1:00 PM EST, SUN 10/31
- Last Meeting: Bears 14, 49ers 9 in Santa Clara, CA in 2018
The 49ers came into the 2021 season riding a wave of positive regression. From being #1 Yards per Points, #1 Fumble Recovery Luck to #4 as a 3rd Down rebound team, mathematical variance was in their cards. This is all not to mention, the injury luck that should have come their way (although there have been multiple studies that show Santa Clara may be the causal variable in the 49ers insane lack of luck in the injury department). Additionally, the 49ers made what seemed to be sound offseason moves (at least in free agency) adding multiple pass rushers that had legit pressure numbers. However, once again the 49ers have been stagnated, somewhat by the “injury bug”, and somewhat by a Head Coach’s lack of aggression throughout gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, Shannahan is a great schemer, especially of getting WRs open, but for as strong as he is in “x”s and “o”s, he still lacks the aggression on 4th down, that many young coaches are coming around to and using as a legit tactical advantage.
Nonetheless, this is still a team that was winning a Super Bowl for 3 Quarters less than 2 years ago. It’s still a team that has won 73% of their games with Jimmy Garoppolo and Shannahan together. They simply haven’t been able to stay healthy at key positions, and allow a very solid schemer in Shannahan to take over games like they did a couple years ago.
Interestingly, (or not) the game brings together the 30th and 29th ranked QBs by DYAR from last week. Garropolo at least had the “weather excuse” to play, whereas Justin Fields was simply bad. Although you’d hope Field’s best play is in front of him, there is a clear strategy to defend Fields: Blitz Him. Which the Bucs did, to much success. This is an issue we addressed a couple weeks ago, and dates back to his college playing years.
The good news for the Bears is two-fold. For one, the 49ers don’t blitz much, only 22.5% of the time, about league average according to Pro Football Reference. Second, Matt Nagy may not be coaching in this game. He contracted the Coronavirus, and his availability for the game is still up in the air. Saving the “subjective fan grievances”, and simply putting it: Nagy is objectively not a good coach, is something we noted a couple weeks ago. We profited from this when he turned over play-calling duties (again) to Bill Lazor, capitalizing on what we knew would be a better showing from the offense. With all that said, ASSUMING NAGY is NOT coaching, all objective advantages aside, there is reason to believe there may be significant subjective motivation on the Bears part in the form of “I told you we’re not bad, it was just our coach”. This has been an (oddly) well-documented phenomenon where certain teams get a boost when coaches are fired, etc. There is legitimate reason to believe the Bears may have the same motivation IF Nagy is truly out.
The only tactical worry is how good the 49ers defense is, and has been, vs. play-action (PA) passing. Fields has been considerably stronger when passing with run action before he lets it rip.
- The Bears are 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games.
- The 49ers are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games against the Bears.
- The UNDER is 5-2 in the 49ers’ last 7 games on the road.
Most folks know about the “West Coast team playing at 1: PM EST” advantage by now, and frankly, if it exists, it’s priced in already. Beyond that, and the home field advantage I feel strongly that you should play this game based on Nagy’s availability: if he is good to go, play San Francisco, if not Chicago. It sounds counterintuitive, but is a legitimate subjective betting play.
Prediction: Chicago 24, San Francisco 23