The issue for too long has been why the Bears' offense shows up on game days looking like it wasn't coached during the week.
That's sure how it seemed again Monday night during a 32-7 loss at San Francisco.
A couple of weeks ago when the Bears' record was 7-1 the question was what would happen first, the offense getting better or the defense getting worse.
At 7-3 that's a silly question: The answer always is the Bears' bad offense gets worse.
On this night, backup quarterback Jason Campbell came in with 70 NFL starts and looked like this was his first. Niners backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick came in with zero NFL starts and looked like this was his 70th.
Each team started with an impressive defense, but in little more than a quarter, Kaepernick produced more points than the Bears had given up per entire game this season.
On the way to a 27-0 lead, the 49ers looked like their offense had a turbocharged engine under the hood; the Bears' looked like it was a tricycle pedalling uphill.
This isn't so much a reflection of the players as it is of their coaches.
The 49ers looked like they had an imaginative game plan, effective play-calling and superior execution.
The Bears, not so much.
It has been a problem in Chicago for most of most of our lifetimes. The Bears' offense rarely appears to know consistently which end of the football is up.
Ironically, these Bears and those 49ers both want to play the same kind of offense: a punishing running game mixed with an opportunistic passing game adding up to a balanced attack.
Historically the 49ers usually know how to reach that objective and the Bears rarely do. Like, San Francisco starts with an offensive line and the Bears don't.
This is more about one game. It's an ongoing story. The Bears have a franchise philosophy they haven't been able to shake and one that the 49ers don't want to adopt.
In Chicago they hire defensive-minded head coaches like Lovie Smith, and in San Francisco they hire offensive-minded coaches like Jim Harbaugh.
No wonder looking at their customary starting quarterbacks, the Bears have rendered dubious a Pro Bowl player like Jay Cutler and the 49ers have rendered efficient a dubious player like Alex Smith.
Offense has been an afterthought for the Bears since a spasm of ingenuity when they thrilled the nation with the T-formation. In San Francisco it has been ingenious since Bill Walsh introduced the West Coast offense to the nation in the 1980s.
That's why if the 49ers went 10 deep on the depth chart, their quarterback would seem more ready to play than the Bears' No. 1 or No. 2 would.
The relative offenses on "Monday Night Football" were functions of institutional mindsets.
The 49ers were aggressive because they were confident, because they were prepared, because they were coached up, because that's their franchise philosophy.
More often than not in San Francisco the past 30 years, they drafted, developed and designed toward solid offense.
Walsh's coaching disciples spread his gospel throughout the NFL to places like Green Bay, Denver and Tampa Bay. Seemingly everywhere but Chicago, where the Bears have been stuck on defensive-minded head coaches Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron and Lovie Smith.
At some point the Bears have to be embarrassed enough to change their approach to offense.
Bears fans can only hope it's sooner than later.