Bears have rare chance for 'elite' D

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Bears have rare chance for 'elite' D

During the NFL Scouting Combine last month, former NFL safety and current National Football Post columnist Matt Bowen visited with CSNChicago.com in the wake of coach Lovie Smiths press session.

Bowen had heard Smith discuss (to a limited point) what the Bears wanted for next season. What he also heard, in between the lines of the requisite we want to get better everywhere, was a stronger emphasis on upgrading the pass rush beyond the everywhere group.

Bowens conclusion at the time was that a course of action should be to look in free agency for the impact wide receiver the offense craves, where the Bears would be getting a proven pro vs. a far less certain rookie who cant be projected to have top-shelf numbers this first year. Then the Bears should be all over an edge rusher in the draft, which has a number of them.

And Bowen is going one step further in NFP with a statement that the Bears should be after Houston Texans end Mario Williams as a chance to pair with Julius Peppers for a truly rare combination of elite rushers in a defense built on just that.

Beyond the obvious of simply pointing to a really good player and saying, get him, the Williams scenario is a shot at something the Bears havent come close to since Richard Dent was at one end and Dan Hampton at the other.

Dent himself once said that all elite defenses have three true pass-rush threats, whether specific individuals or in a combo pack (like with a Ray Lewis). Dent-Hampton-McMichael. Eller-Marshall-Page (Minnesota). Greene-Greenwood-White (Pittsburgh). Davis-Jordan-Aldridge (Green Bay). Jones-Martin-White (Dallas).

The Colonels Rule of Three can be argued, but not what Williams could mean opposite Peppers. As noted previously, Williams has never won anything with the under-achieving Texans. But with Peppers and Henry MeltonAmobi Okoye, the Bears have the building foundation for a very, very good defense. Very.

Forget about the age theme with the defense. Charles Woodson is older than Peppers, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman or Brian Urlacher. So is Ray Lewis.

The issue isnt whether the defense is too old. Its whether its good enough up front, which is why Smith rightly has pass rush as the high priority he does.

Getting Reggie White was a rare fortuitous chance that the Packers grabbed. So is a chance to pair Peppers with someone his equal or better as a pass rusher.

Whether if that someone is Williams or a first-round draft choice, a double-digit edge rusher added to what the Bears already have in place is arguably as much a golden opportunity as may come again in quite some time.

Bears offense finds groove in win over 49ers

Bears offense finds groove in win over 49ers

For nearly 30 minutes, the Bears offense was stuck in a snow globe.

Once Matt Barkley and the Bears (3-9) found their way out, the lowly San Francisco 49ers (1-11) had no answer as the Bears cruised to a 26-6 victory in blizzard conditions Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

It was a lackluster start for both offenses, who traded punts on four straight possessions to start the contest, and neither side completed a pass until 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick found tight end Vance McDonald nearly midway through the second quarter.

After back-to-back field goals by 49ers kicker Phil Dawson, the Bears offense finally found its footing.

Getting his second-career NFL start, Barkley (11-of-18, 192 yards, 97.5 QB rating) completed the Bears' first pass of the game with 1:38 remaining in the first half when he connected with wide receiver Deonte Thompson. After rattling off four completions, Barkley's pass to tight end Daniel Brown sailed through the back of the end zone, but the 49ers were called for pass interference. On the next play, Bears running back Jordan Howard (31 carries, 116 yards, 3 TDs) plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score to give Chicago a 7-6 lead over San Francisco going into the half.

The Bears rode that momentum coming out of the locker room as Barkley engineered a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive which was capped off by Howard's 2-yard rushing touchdown.

Following a three-and-out by the San Francisco offense, Barkley quickly marched the Bears down the field with consecutive throws to Josh Bellamy (4 receptions, 93 yards), and Howard finished the drive off by bulldozing his way through 49ers defenders for his third touchdown of the game.

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Decimated by injuries, the Bears defense played an inspired effort against the 49ers, limiting them to just 147 total yards. The Bears defense held Kaepernick to just 1-of-5 passing for 4 yards and sacked the 49ers quarterback five times before he was benched for Week 1 starter Blaine Gabbert. Akiem Hicks (2), Leonard Floyd (2), Eddie Goldman and Willie Young all had sacks for the Bears. Floyd added a safety of Gabbert late in fourth quarter.

The Bears set a 2016 season-high for points scored with 26 in Sunday's game.

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

The Bears try to get a third win in 2016 when they host the 49ers, and CSN has you covered.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Jim Miller and Chris Boden airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago