Maiocco's key matchups: Bears vs. 49ers
Bears vs. 49ers
The 49ers (1-0) face the Chicago Bears (0-1) on Sunday Night Football. Insider Matt Maiocco isolates the three biggest individual matchups to watch in this Week 2 showdown. Check 'em out...
Martellus Bennett vs. Patrick Willis
Martellus Bennett caught eight passes from quarterback Jay Cutler for 70 yards and a touchdown. With wide receivers Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) limited, the Bears could look to target Bennett more than usual to take advantage of his 5-inch advantage over Willis. But the 49ers All-Pro linebacker -- whose coverage skills are underrated -- is coming off a strong opener in which he limited Jason Witten to two catches and picked off a pass in the end zone.
Jeremiah Ratliff vs. Mike Iupati
Iupati enters his contract year, and appears to be in line to become one of the highest-paid guards in the NFL, but he's out to a slow start. Ratliff, a 10-year veteran formerly known as Jay, has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons, but looked like his young self in the opening week loss to the Buffalo Bills. Iupati must re-establish himself as a force in the run game, but Ratliff has the athleticism and experience to give Iupati problems in the passing game.
Jermon Bushrod vs. Justin Smith
It's a storied trench rivalry that dates back to the quintessential play of Smith’s 14-year career, when he bull-rushed Bushrod back into quarterback Drew Brees on a pivotal third-down play in the 2011 playoffs. Smith has 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks in the last two head-to-head matchups against Bushrod and is coming off a strong opener in which he brought down quarterback Tony Romo twice.