>>Bears Host 49ers Sunday
Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first start for the 49ers and the third of his career when he and his teammates visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
It is familiar territory for Garoppolo, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Ill., and played at Rolling Meadows High School before earning a scholarship to play at Eastern Illinois.
The 49ers acquired him from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick on Halloween, and Garoppolo spent the past month on the sideline learning the offense under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan.
An injury to fellow signal-caller C.J. Beathard last week opened the door for Shanahan to make the change at starter. Garoppolo came off the bench after Beathard got hurt, and he completed both of his pass attempts for 18 yards and a touchdown.
Chicago (3-8) also has pinned its future hopes on a young quarterback with a big arm and little experience. Mitchell Trubisky will make his eighth start as he looks to rebound from a career-worst 38.3 passer rating in a 31-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Trubisky, 23, has passed for 1,135 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions since the Bears selected him No. 2 overall in the 2017 draft. San Francisco initially owned the No. 2 pick but accepted a generous package of additional draft picks from Chicago in exchange for moving one spot down to No. 3.
Including his time in New England behind future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo has thrown 96 NFL passes without an interception.
Chicago needs a victory to avoid, at least for the moment, its fourth consecutive losing season.
>>Packers Look To Right The Ship Against Bucs Sunday
Heading into Sunday's game at Lambeau Field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers are limping to the finish line.
The Packers were 4-1 before Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. They've won just one of their last six games with Brett Hundley orchestrating the offense and are clinging to scant playoff hopes at 5-6.
With third-year quarterback Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers won two of their first three games before enduring a five-game losing streak.
The Buccaneers hope to get a lift with the return of Winston, who missed the past three games with an injured right (throwing) shoulder, though they did go 2-1 with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Winston and his productive group of pass catchers will get an inviting matchup against Green Bay's beleaguered pass defense. While Hundley has struggled during Green Bay's slump, its secondary hasn't been any better, with opposing quarterbacks averaging 304 passing yards the past five games. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger set seasons highs for completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns and led a last-second scoring drive to beat the Packers 31-28 on Sunday night.
Tampa Bay's defense hasn't been any better, mostly because it can't get off the field other than by forcing turnovers. Last year, the Buccaneers had the NFL's best third-down defense. This year, it owns the worst.
Injuries have chewed up both teams. While Winston could return, Tampa Bay put two of its top offensive linemen, right tackle Demar Dotson and center Ali Marpet, on injured reserve Wednesday.
Moreover, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring), receiver DeSean Jackson (foot) and running back Doug Martin (concussion) were among six players who did not practice.
For the Packers, two top defensive players who missed the Pittsburgh game, defensive tackle Kenny Clark (ankle) and outside linebacker Clay Matthews (groin), returned to practice, as did running back Aaron Jones (knee). Cornerback Kevin King, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury for months, did not practice. At 6-foot-3, he'd provide size against 6-5 Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans.
Rodgers remains on injured reserve for the Packers, though he could return to practice on Saturday. If the Packers can beat the Buccaneers on Sunday and the Browns next week to stay in the playoff chase, Rodgers could return to face Carolina on Dec. 17.
>>Bears Demps Returns To Practice
Chicago Bears safety Quintin Demps has practiced for the first time since breaking his left arm in late September.
His return to practice on Thursday opened a 21-day window for the Bears to decide whether to activate him from injured reserve or have him miss the remainder of the season. Demps started the first three games. He was injured against Pittsburgh on Sept. 24.
Demps says it "felt great" to practice, though he doesn't think he will be ready to play against San Francisco on Sunday. Injuries have left the Bears short-handed at safety.
Chicago re-signed safety Chris Prosinski while waiving linebacker Howard Jones on Thursday. Prosinski played for the Bears from 2015-16, appearing in 29 games and making six starts.
>>Packers Trying To Recoup Ex-TE Bennet's Bonuses
Just when you thought the Martellus Bennett saga had come to an end with the Patriots placing the tight end on injured reserve with shoulder and hamstring injuries, the Packers are going after the money. According to a report from ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, the Packers have filed paperwork in an attempt to collect a portion of Bennett's signing bonus.
Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million deal (that contained $6.3 million guaranteed) with the Packers this offseason. He began publicly musing about retirement after 2017 once Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured on a hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and the Packers' offense dropped off.
Eventually he told the Packers he wanted to have season-ending surgery for a shoulder injury. Rather than shutting him down, the Packers released him and claimed that he had previously failed to report the injury.
He had only 24 catches and 233 yards in seven games with Green Bay.
The Patriots claimed Bennett off waivers, and then he played for them a few days later.