49ers loss a 'wakeup call' that says Bears asleep, overconfident

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49ers loss a 'wakeup call' that says Bears asleep, overconfident

SAN FRANCISCO The hardest part of a blowout loss is sorting out what it says about the defeated, first in the game itself and then about the bigger 16-game picture.

The 32-7 debacle the Bears (7-3) put on against the San Francisco 49ers was one of those. The only problem the Bears gave the 49ers (7-3-1) was a quarterback controversy, whether Colin Kaepernick is in fact a better quarterback going forward than Alex Smith.

One veteran leaving Candlestick Park said, Thats a different team than Ive been watching.

Which one? I asked.

Both, he said.

If there is a positive, it is that this time a year ago the Bears were 7-3 and losing their quarterback. This year they are 7-3 and getting him back, presuming that Jay Cutler is sufficiently recovered from his concussion condition, which is never a given with head injuries.

And if there is a big-picture negative it is that the Bears had just run off five straight wins last year to reach that 7-3 point. Their offensive line had come together and allowed a total of five sacks over that stretch.

This year the line is in tatters, allowing six sacks in Monday nights game alone. The team has lost two straight and now faces a span of three division games in four weeks, and the next four opponents are all 6-4 or better.

Over-confident

One player called the game a wakeup call. The only people or teams that need wakeup calls are ones that are asleep. The Bears were.

The Bears were not ready to play a game that was strategically the most important they have played all season, with a little more gravity than the Packers game in Green Bay because it comes with six games to offset it instead of the 14 remaining after game two.

One member of the defense said the unit anticipated first-time starter Kaepernick to throw a couple to us. That pointed to a letdown once it was learned earlier in the weekend that Smith, who does not turn the ball over, was a scratch because of lingering concussion effects.

Even coach Lovie Smith conceded that we were lucky to be down only 20-0 at the half.

Fatal flaws?

Virtually every member of every unit contributed to the outcome. But at the 10-game mark of the season, an offensive line should not be as humiliated as tackles Gabe Carimi and JMarcus Webb were by the San Francisco pass rush.

The problem is that there are no quick fixes, with journeyman veteran Jonathan Scott the only rostered option. The guard spot already was tweaked with Chilo Rachal replacing Chris Spencer at left guard. Rachal committed two holding penalties and was crushed in the pass rush along with the rest of the front.

The reason why the concerns are more than simple over-reaction is that while the line held the Houston Texans without a sack last week, even the Bears own defensive linemen were railing privately at the deplorable state of Soldier Field turf. It may not have been home-field advantage but it was an O-line advantage. Without that, the Bears offensive line was, as Comcast colleague and former Bear Hunter Hillenmeyer said on our PostGame Live show, a bunch of wet paper.

Brandon Marshall has been a linchpin of the offense this season, which was fine when the defense was carrying the offense. On Monday the 49ers cracked Marshall.

San Francisco double-teamed Marshall often and hard, and as the first half wore on, Marshalls frustration was amply apparent. He got into physical confrontations with 49ers defensive backs after plays were over and at one point Marshall appeared to be going off on Matt Forte or another player along the sideline. Center and offensive co-captain Roberto Garza stepped in it appeared that wide receiver Earl Bennett also mediated.

Tempers flare on sidelines and on the field. But Marshalls loss of composure started when the game was still salvageable. Worse, the 49ers basically defied the Bears to find someone else to beat them.

The Bears couldnt.

If they cant, the Bears will not be playing more than 16 games. Again.

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon plays catch but timeline for return still uncertain

Carlos Rodon played catch in front of Don Cooper on Monday afternoon but only added to the intrigue surrounding his health when he declined to talk to the media.

On the 10-day disabled list with a biceps strain, the White Sox said Rodon continues to make progress in his rehab program. Cooper said the third-year pitcher felt and looked fine as he played catch in left field. But neither he nor manager Rick Renteria offered many more details on when Rodon may return or even when he could throw off a mound.

"He looked like he played catch good," Cooper said. "His throwing program is progressing. He felt fine. He threw the ball fine. That's kind of where we are at. He threw fine and move on to the next."

Rodon is in town for several days to be observed by the White Sox. On Friday, general manager Rick Hahn described the visit as a "routine follow-up visit." But other than making sure they're cautious with Rodon, the club hasn't been able to offer a specific timetable for their prized pitcher.

"I can't tell you in detail what the program is," Renteria said. "I know it involves throwing and making sure he's getting treatments and making sure it's taken care of, the issue he had with his biceps. We know it's getting better."

But the improvement hasn't made the situation any easier to deal with. When they started him on a delayed program this spring, the White Sox had Rodon pegged for 33 starts and 200 innings. As of now, there's no certainty when he'll make his first turn and the calendar is nearing May.

"He's frustrated," Cooper said. "He wants to get through this, through all of it. We are just there to try to make sure he's doing things right and there's progression.

"Well, I mean we've already taken a lot of caution. He's important to us now and in the future. We wouldn't rush with him or anybody."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can Bulls bounce back against Celtics?

In the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, CSN's David Kaplan is joined by the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh and the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns to discuss the Bulls falling to a 2-2 series tie with the Celtics.

The guys predict how the first-round playoff series will end and talk about how Isaiah Canaan will fare as the starting point guard in Game 5.

Then, the panel discusses whether Matt Davidson should be in the White Sox lineup more and who will still be playing on the South Side when the White Sox rebuild is done.

Finally, the panel discusses a couple of contract extensions for Pat Fitzgerald and Chris Collins at Northwestern.

Take a listen to the episode below: