Bears, 49ers seek positives in dismal season's final stretch
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) A winning record, a shot at the playoffs and just about all hope for something positive got squashed almost as soon as the season started.
The Chicago Bears have that in common with the San Francisco 49ers. But at least they have won since the season opener.
San Francisco will try to snap a franchise-record 10-game losing streak when it visits Chicago in a matchup between two of the NFL's worst teams on Sunday. The 49ers (1-10) have not won since they opened with a 28-0 win over Los Angeles, though it's not like the Bears (2-9) have fared much better.
''I think these guys have been fantastic in terms of their approach every day,'' San Francisco coach Chip Kelly said.
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries and poor play in general. They're simply looking for some signs of progress in the final stretch of a dismal season.
''You are only as good as your record says you are,'' Bears linebacker Willie Young said. ''We've been battling, from A to Z, we've been battling. I really feel that this year, with all of the young guys that we have, and even guys coming from winning organizations who are not familiar with dealing with adversity like such, I really think it's going to help and build us as a team in the future.''
Here are some things to know as the 49ers try to end their slide against the struggling Bears:
BARKLEY'S CHANCE: Chicago's Matt Barkley will try to build on a promising performance in last week's 27-21 loss to Tennessee .
He threw for a career-high 316 yards and his first three touchdowns as a pro with Jay Cutler sidelined by a right shoulder injury, and he led a fourth-quarter rally that came up short when Josh Bellamy dropped a pass in the end zone in the final minute.
Now, he's about to meet the coach who drafted him . The former Southern California quarterback was taken by Philadelphia in the fourth round in 2013 but wasn't seen as a good fit for Kelly's offense because he is not particularly mobile.
Barkley appeared in four games with the Eagles before getting traded in 2015 to Arizona, where he never played. He signed with Chicago in September and is a getting a chance with Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Connor Shaw all injured.
KAEPERNICK'S COMEBACK: Colin Kaepernick is starting to perform like it's 2012 again.
Benched midway through last year and limited by injuries during the offseason, he is once again showing the form that made him one of the most promising young quarterbacks. And it seems Kelly's system suits him.
''It gives you an opportunity to run a wide-open offense and there's a lot of clarity in the quarterbacks' mind, as far as what we want to do, how we're trying to get things done, which is very advantageous,'' he said.
Kaepernick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns against Miami last week . He also ran for 113 yards and nearly led a late tying driving before being tackled at the 2 as time expired, ending another solid performance for a player who has been coming on strong. He struggled in his first two starts after regaining the No. 1 spot from Blaine Gabbert. But it's been a different story the past four games.
Kaepernick has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 1,110 yards, eight TDs, two interceptions and a 96 rating. He has also rushed for 223 yards in that span, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.
HANG ON: Bears receivers will have to do a better job this week.
Chicago dropped 10 passes against Tennessee, an unacceptable number even without the suspended Alshon Jeffery and injured Kevin White and tight end Zach Miller. Marquess Wilson was among those with at least one drop, though he did set career highs with eight catches for 125 yards.
TURNOVERS: San Francisco is having trouble hanging onto the ball, and Chicago can't seem to take it away.
The 49ers are tied for fifth with 20 turnovers - three shy of the league lead. They had a tough time against the Dolphins, losing a fumble at the Miami 16 and having a deflected pass intercepted to give Miami the ball at the San Francisco 26.
The Bears have just eight takeaways. Only Jacksonville (seven) has fewer.
FLORIDA STAY: Rather than fly home between games at Miami and Chicago, the 49ers decided to stay in the Sunshine State. So they spent the week in Orlando practicing at the University of Central Florida. The coach there is Scott Frost, who worked on Kelly's staff at Oregon.
''It's not about packing up and coming to Orlando,'' Kelly said. ''It was about not going back. So, it saves you on travel and wear and tear.''
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