Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bears matchups to watch Sunday, 5:30 p.m., at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
49ers LT Justin Smith vs. Bears LT Jermon Bushrod
Tale of the tape
Smith (94): 6 foot 4, 285 pounds, 14th season, Missouri
Bushrod (74): 6 foot 5, 320 pounds, eighth season, Towson
Smith is healthy after being limited by a shoulder injury for all of last season that required offseason surgery. And with pass-rusher Aldon Smith serving a nine-game suspension, the 49ers will lean on Justin Smith to provide more pass rush. Smith recorded two sacks in the 49ers’ season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
“He’s been a major component of our pass rush since we’ve been here,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Smith. “He needs to continue to be, and he was (against Dallas).”
Bushrod enters his second season with the Bears after spending the first six years of his career with the New Orleans Saints. Bushrod had a positive grade in the Bears’ Week 1 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he did yield a hit on quarterback Jay Cutler and three hurries. He is coming off a season in which he ranked 55th of 76 qualifying tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
The quintessential play of Smith’s 14-year career came against Bushrod in a 2011 playoff game against the Saints. Smith was unaffected by an attempted chip block from a running back and bull-rushed Bushrod back into quarterback Drew Brees. Smith reached his right arm over Bushrod to grab Brees’ jersey as he was throwing to force an incompletion on a third-down play. In the past two head-to-head meetings, Smith has 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks against Bushrod.