The Packer factor in Angelo's exit

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The Packer factor in Angelo's exit

For Jerry Angelo, with a Chicago record of 95-81, to go from planning for the 2012 offseason, with re-signing priorities in place and free-agency targets identified, to sudden firing -- there would seem to be something more involved than what was talked about by George McCaskey and Ted Phillips on Tuesday.

One nagging thought is that Angelo didnt lose his job because of five straight losses. He lost it because of one in particular.

Besting the Green Bay Packers was a driving force for George Halas and it is clearly one for his grandson and current Bears chairman. It also has been suggested that this was a proximate cause of Angelos dismissal.

As recently as the hours before the Christmas game in Green Bay, the strongest indications were that Angelo was ticketed for a return for 2012. George McCaskey was in the corridors of Lambeau Field with his son and in a good mood before the game.

After seeing the Bears crushed (35-10 after three quarters) by the Packers -- again -- the mood was considerably darker. The decision to jettison Angelo rested with Phillips, but many people underestimated the epic importance of the Green Bay relationship to the McCaskeys above all else.

McCaskey cited the need for the Bears to lose no more ground to the Packers and Detroit Lions. But the Bears beat the Lions twice in 2010, lost badly in game one this season, then annihilated Detroit 37-13 on Nov. 13. The Lions didnt score a touchdown until 5 minutes remained in the game and the Bears were up 37-6.

That would be classed as gaining ground on the Lions.

But a blowout in Green Bay appeared to change all that.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.