For two teams that aren't in the same division, haven't met in the playoffs since 1994 and are nearly 2,000 miles apart, the 49ers and Bears are pretty intertwined.
For one, they've played each other every year - either in the regular season, preseason or both - since 2003. Put another way: Since 2003, the 49ers have played NFC West rival Seattle 10 times. After Thursday, they'll have played the Bears eight times over the same span.
Then there's the off-the-field stuff. The Bears leveled tampering charges against the 49ers last year over perceived overtures to Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs. The allegations led to the Bears and 49ers switching third-round picks and the 49ers losing their fifth rounder. The Bears selected Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett in the third round with what would have been the 49ers' pick.
There are also plenty of familiar faces in the Bears locker room. Chicago signed former 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd - he of the lovely braids and alligator arms - in the offseason. This will be the 49ers' first meeting with Lloyd since he departed San Francisco early in 2006. More mixed blood: Anthony Adams spent his first four seasons in San Francisco, Bears DE Dan Bazuin is good friends with Joe Staley from their days at Central Michigan, CB Tarell Brown was Nathan Vasher's understudy at Texas, CB Walt Harris is an ex-Bear and, of course, 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary used to play a little linebacker in the Windy City
And there's one more tie. Quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan was signed by the Bears in February 2007. At the time, however, O'Sullivan's agent made Chicago GM Jerry Angelo promise that if there was no room for O'Sullivan on the roster, they would release him by the start of training camp. Despite the fact that O'Sullivan was the offensive Co-MVP of NFL Europa that spring, Angelo and the Bears kept their word and released him on July 6. A week later, he was signed by the Lions and was introduced to Mike Martz. The rest is history ...
-- Matt Barrows