The score of the Pro Bowl 62-35 doesnt especially matter. Neither does the winner (the NFC).
But a few of the production numbers of participating Bears make for some interesting musing.
Julius Peppers had two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Charles Tillman was credited with three solo tackles and a pass deflection, although his appearances on any highlight reels will be as victim on TD catches, and Tim Jennings had four solo tackles. Henry Melton had a quiet game with a pass-block.
But the stats are less important than the statement that someone like Peppers was making. He turned 33 a little over a week ago and yet there he was with something looking suspiciously like effort. Same with Tillman, wholl be 32 next month.
Why this matters a little bit is because of the constant questioning surrounding the aging Bears defense.
Consider some other old Pro Bowl selections: San Francisco DE Justin Smith (busy in New Orleans rather than Hawaii) will be 34 in September. 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, good enough for last years Pro Bowl, will be 32 in July. Jared Allen is 31. Robert Mathis is 32.
The punch line is not hand-wringing shouldnt be over how long Peppers, Tillman, Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher (presuming a re-signing) can dotter around. Theyre not the problem.
Its whether the Bears can re-sign Jennings, Melton and Nick Roach, and whether Shea McClellin, Stephen Paea and even one of the starting third-round safeties (Chris Conte, Major Wright), and others, take a next huge step.
The 49ers are an elite defense with age because of a first-round home runs in Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis, but also a fourth-round nugget in safety Dashon Goldson, and a third-round hit on linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who was selected 16 picks after the Bears grabbed Wright to fill a significant safety need.
A reader was good enough to question an item last week regarding trade scenarios involving the Bears and wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The item was a whimsical look at what-ifs for the Bears, how they could have had Joe Montana once upon a time (every team could have) on up to a couple of Pro Bowl linemen who went elsewhere in past drafts.
The Bears might have had Boldin back in 2009 and 2010, sources confirmed, but were only willing to go as high as a No. 2 initially. The Cardinals wanted a No. 1 and more at one point, and ended up with a couple of lower picks from Baltimore instead. All of that was pre-Phil Emery, who did land a projected impact wideout with his first No. 2 when he grabbed Alshon Jeffery in that round last draft. Boldin and Jeffery were in the same paragraph but not in any transaction.
Sorry for any confusion, which lay in the prose, not the pros.