Without defensive TD's, Bears 'O' cant tally points of its own

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Without defensive TD's, Bears 'O' cant tally points of its own

SAN FRANCISCO The San Francisco defense was barely allowing two touchdowns (14.1 points) per game, No. 1 in the NFL, and the Bears were down by 17 early in the second quarter with the offense falling to a new low. The Bears ran 23 plays for a net 35 yards, minus-one passing after Jason Campbell was sacked three times in the first 18 plays.

The third-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall was the only touchdown scored by the Bears since the fourth quarter of the Tennessee game eight quarters.

The game was effectively over at halftime with the Bears down 20-0 and the Bears totaling just three first downs while giving up 22 yards in sacks vs. 21 yards on Campbells four completions.

But the problems extended far, far beyond Campbell, who was making his first start in more than a calendar year. Not that he would invoke it, but at least he had an excuse. The rest of what is suddenly one of the most inept offenses in the NFC has none.

QUARTERBACK: F

It was arguably for this exact game more than this one if Jay Cutler is not sufficiently over his concussion symptoms by the start of practices this week that the Bears invested 3.5 million in a one-year deal for Campbell. That investment is suspect at this early moment.

Campbell was inaccurate and failed to get rid of the ball on time to take hits in the first half, one for a sack and one for an interception. That was just the beginning of a horrendous night for a veteran who looked like anything but. He was a woeful 4-for-8 for 21 yards and a passer rating of 16.7 in the first half when the game had some chance of salvage

Campbell threw a second interception in the third quarter, overthrowing Earl Bennett late in a route.

Campbell finished 14-of-22, a rating of 52.7 and 107 yards, which netted to just 58 after the 49 yards on sacks were assessed. He had little enough time too frequently but his play when there was time was far from what the Bears need in this most difficult stretch of their 2012 schedule.

RUNNING BACK: D

The game plan was to run Matt Forte and the Bears did, 11 times in the first half but for only 32 net yards, no carry longer than eight yards. Michael Bush accounted for just nine yards on his five carries but did produce the Bears longest pass completion (18 yards). Forte had three catches for a total of four yards.

Neither back contributed effectively to pass protection, although the hemorrhaging in Campbells protection would have needed more than 11 players on offense.

RECEIVERS: F

Brandon Marshall appeared to lose composure on more than one occasion, demanding the ball before the snap despite tight double coverage, and having a couple of frustration incidents in the first half, but zero catches. When he did catch one for a TD, when the Bears were down 27-0 late in the third quarter, he was in the face of the 49ers DB.

Getting Alshon Jeffery back from his broken hand was supposed to help. But Jeffery was targeted only twice in the first half, both for catches and injured a knee in the second, leaving the game. Devin Hester ran poor routes and receivers gave Campbell little help in situations where he needed lots of it. Hester tied for team-high with three catches but had a long of nine yards.

No Bears receiver had a catch of longer than 13 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE: F-

The breakdowns were virtually everywhere and on play after play. JMarcus Webb failed to handle an Aldon Smith bull rush leading to a first-possession sack and was manhandled by Smith for another in the second quarter.

Smith combined with Justin Smith on a stunt and pushed Chilo Rachal back into Campbell for a third sack in the first half. When Smith flipped over to his left side, he overran Gabe Carimi. Both Carimi and Webb were completely beaten on the sackstrip by basic outside edge rushes by Smith and OLB Ahmad Brooks.

That continued in the second half, with moments ranging from bizarre to surreal. Carimi was knocked over backwards on an A-Smith bull rush while Webb was being caved in by J-Smith for a shared sack. A play later Carimi whiffed completely for another A-Smith sack and strip in the end zone. Rachal was called for intentional grounding trying to grab it and throw it out of the end zone. That was reviewed and the call was reversed to a safety.

Rachal was called for holding to stunt a first-half drive and was flagged again in the fourth quarter behind the play on a Campbell scramble.

COACHING: F

The 49ers schemed to take away Marshall and the Bears had no answer and were unable to protect Campbell repeatedly on the edges or when San Francisco used interior-line stunts.

Play calling did not adjust to the Bears inability to pass-protect for longer than three seconds and players, both backs and receivers, seemed unprepared for hot situations.

The fact that Forte totaled four yards on three pass receptions raises questions about play design or play calling.

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

For the third time since the event was created, the Blackhawks will participate in the Winter Classic, facing the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2, 2017.

To build some hype for the Central Division showdown, which will feature two teams that find themselves battling for the top seed in the Western Conference, Ryan Hartman and Trevor van Riemsdyk of the Blackhawks squared off with Joel Edmundson and Robby Fabbri of the Blues in EA Sports' NHL 17.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Edmunson and Fabbri jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the finish would be determined in 3-on-3 overtime.

Check out who came out on top in the video below:

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”