Aldon Smith began Monday's game in third place in the NFL's sack standing. He not only ended it in first place but put some distance between him and the next guy.
The 49ers outside linebacker had 5 1/2 sacks against the Bears and now has 15 on the season, one sack sack more than he had in 2011. The one-game total is the most ever in a Monday Night Football game and ranks second in franchise history. Fred Dean had six on Nov. 13, 1983.
"I think I have a thing for night games," said Smith, who also stood out in a Monday Night Football game against Pittsburgh last year. "I love playing at night, I love the lights."
That total also puts Smith a sack ahead of Denver's Von Miller for the league lead. Smith and Miller became friendly rivals in college - both are Big 12 products --and kept in touch last season when they were vying for the sack title among rookies. Smith edged Miller 14 to 11 Â½ last year. Miller, however, was named the league's defensive rookie of the year.
"I'll probably text him as soon as I leave here," Smith said with a smile.
Smith and right defensive end Justin Smith proved to be too much to handle for the Bears tandem of left tackle J'Marcus Webb and guard Chilo Rachal, who spent his first four seasons with the 49ers. Rachal was twice flagged for holding. He also was tackled in the end zone after recovering a fumble, giving the 49ers a safety.
The most painful sack for Campbell was delivered by Ahmad Brooks in the third quarter. The hit dislodged the ball and left Campbell on his hands and knees for several minutes. The former Raider left the game briefly but returned to throw a 13-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall five plays later
Jim Harbaugh was asked if there was an unwritten rule that an injured player -- in this case, Alex Smith -- doesn't lose his starting job while he's recovering. "We'll make that determination as we go," Harbaugh said. "But there's no rule."
Smith has not been cleared to play in a game after his concussion symptoms returned late last week. That the 49ers have a short week to prepare for the New Orleans Saints seems to give Kaepernick at least a slight edge to play on Sunday.
Smith was on the sideline Monday and served as an extra set of eyes for Kaepernick. "He was telling me to trust what I was seeing," Kaepernick said. "He thought I was seeing the field well. He was just giving me little reminders here and there."
Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who was forced from the game by concussions, said he thought the NFL was making strides in the treatment of the injury. Why does he think so? Because if this were 20 years ago, Smith likely would have played Monday after suffering a concussion last week, Young said.
"Big games and people on the cusp (of returning) -- they usually erred on the side of playing," Young, who is now an analyst for ESPN, said before the game. "I'd be the first one to run out there."
Young was named the league's MVP in 1992 and 1994. During Week 3 of the 1999 season, he was knocked out of a Monday Night Game by Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams and never played again. He said Smith's ordeal shows that the situation is "different now, and for the better, right?"
The 49ers are expected to announce Tuesday that the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which has been played in San Francisco in recent years, will be played at the team's new Santa Clara stadium upon completion. The $1.2 billion facility is scheduled to open in 2014. Before Monday, Kaepernick's last start at quarterback came in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a 20-13 win for Nevada over Boston College on Jan. 9, 2011.
-- Matt Barrows