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updated: 11/20/2012 12:15 AM

The magic goes missing for Marshall

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  • Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall catches a 13-yard touchdown pass over San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver during Monday's third quarter in San Francisco.

    Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall catches a 13-yard touchdown pass over San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver during Monday's third quarter in San Francisco.
    Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Marshall has demonstrated all season how strong his rapport is with Jay Cutler.

He also worked well with Jason Campbell in the second half last week after Cutler was injured, catching 6 passes for 86 yards in the second half, but there was no magic Monday night.

Marshall entered Week 11 second in the NFL with 67 receptions and third with 904 receiving yards. He did not catch a pass in the first half and finished with a season-worst 2 catches for 21 yards, but he had a 13-yard TD grab in the third quarter.

"It's hard to get it to him when you don't have a lot of time," Bears coach Lovie Smith said, citing the lack of protection for Campbell.

"We all let the team down at one time or another," Marshall said. "We're just not making enough plays. They played two (safeties) deep and tried to take me out. I have to do a better job of beating double-teams."

Thinking man's game:

Coach Lovie Smith wouldn't commit to having starting quarterback Jay Cutler back Sunday at home against the Vikings, but he sounded encouraged.

"He was feeling better," Smith said. "He got a little better as the week went on. We left him home, but he was looking good."

Niners quarterback Alex Smith, who practiced on a limited basis all week after also suffering a concussion last week, was inactive. Bay Area reporters had assumed for much of the week he would start.

Lovie Smith said players, coaches and staff are all more aware of the dangers of head injuries than they were in the past.

"I think they have to be, as much as it's talked about, and rightfully so," Smith said. "We know a lot more about concussions now. There's still a lot we don't know about concussions, but we know a lot more. I think guys are just more conscious about their health in general and not just for concussions. Their knees, all parts of their body. I think we have a more educated player now."

Quick kick:

The Bears bring free agents in to Halas Hall every week of the season to keep tabs on what talent is available.

Last week four punters were in, which seemed coincidental given Adam Podlesh's recent slump.

"When you are bringing guys in, there is a reason," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "You want to know for the emergency list, No. 1, (but) it's a performance-based business. Everybody knows that you need to perform at a high level and, if you don't, you have to as a coach, you have to as a team, explore other options that are out there. You have to know who is available if we do make a change."

Podlesh's 46.8-yard gross average Monday night tied his best of the season and his 43.0-yard net was second best.

Jeffery back, but briefly:

Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was active for the first time since Week 5 when he suffered a broken hand against the Jaguars.

At the time he was second on the team with 14 catches for 164 yards.

"He was really playing good football for us when he went down," coach Lovie Smith said during the week. "Another big, big target, another guy for Jason (Campbell) to throw to if it comes that."

Jeffery caught Campbell's first completion Monday night for a 9-yard gain and finished with 2 catches for 15 yards but left the game late in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.

By the numbers:

In the previous three games, Devin Hester had just 5 catches for 28 yards and Earl Bennett had 8 receptions 78 yards. Monday night Hester caught 3 passes but for just 23 yards. Bennett had 1 catch for 6 yards. ... Running back Matt Forte had more than 50 receptions in each of his first four season, but he had just 22 catches in the first nine games. Against the 49ers he caught 3 passes but for only 4 yards.

Out and in:

Aside from Jay Cutler and Shea McClellin, the Bears' other inactives were wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, cornerback D.J. Moore, guard Edwin Williams, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.

Moore had 4 interceptions in each of the past two seasons but has lost the nickel back job to Kelvin Hayden. With McClellin out, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was active for the first time since Oct. 22. Okoye has also played some snaps at defensive end.

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