By Jeff Joniak-
(CBS) The Bears face the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday night after a rough season-opening loss to the Bills. Here are a few thoughts on the mind heading into the game.
Bears receiver Josh Morgan was 16 years old as a sophomore at H.D. Woodson High in Washington D.C. when the attacks of 9/11 occurred 13 years ago today. Morgan’s mother and godmother both worked in the Pentagon.
“I couldn’t get in contact with either one of them for hours,” Morgan said. “About six o’clock that evening, she called me and said, ‘I’m fine, I’m drinking my wine, calming my nerves.’”
Morgan says he was truly humbled by the event and that it put life in perspective.
“She could have never called me back,” Morgan said. “It makes you appreciate life that much more. You truly appreciate them, you truly love them, and you live every day to the fullest.”
9/11 isn’t the only tragedy Morgan and his family have lived through. He was a student on campus during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, and his mother was working on the same floor of the Washington Navy Yard building where a mass shooting took the lives of 12 people a year ago this coming Tuesday.
Morgan says he needs no more scares like those in his life.
“I promise you I don’t,” he said. “We need all the laughter and happiness we can get.”
Morgan is working through a groin injury in advance of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers.
When 9/11 occurred, Bears safety Ryan Mundy was a 16-year-old sophomore at Woodland Hills High just outside of Pittsburgh, which was just a couple of hours away from Shanksville, Pa., where the hijacked Flight 93 went down.
“I was in AP U.S. history class, and my teacher had all the American flags in his room,” Mundy said. “A very deep historian, (he) came in, and was crying. His eyes were blood-shot red, and he said it’s a very sad day for America.”
Mundy had an opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York shortly before joining the Bears in the spring.
“I’m still at a loss for words,” he said. “To live through that and still look at those images and have those feelings conjure up in my stomach and remember exactly what I was doing, exactly where I was at or what was going on throughout that week — it makes you reflect and be appreciative of our armed forces and everyone out there who serve our country day in and day out.”
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs predicts the read option will have a short shelf life in the NFL. The reason: injured quarterbacks. If it were up to him, one defensive player would be assigned to hit the quarterback on every single read-option snap. The toll it would take presumably would force teams to stop exposing their quarterbacks. The rules protect quarterbacks from hits, so defensive players must proceed with caution and not leave it up for referee interpretation.
Pocket quarterbacks are not getting injured as much, with the evidence found in consecutive game streaks. Eli Manning (152), Phillip Rivers (129), Joe Flacco (97), Tom Brady (81), Matt Ryan (68) and Drew Brees (65) are examples of signal-callers who have shown durability. Of course, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler were injured just last season, so there’s always danger.
Fourth and short
First-year offensive lineman Michael Ola has a refreshing appreciation for his job and last Sunday’s snaps in place of injured guard Matt Slauson.
“It was awesome,” Ola said. “I practiced and I prepared to be in the game, and they were counting on me that if something did happen that the guy going in there could carry the load.”
Ola said what really helps him is that he doesn’t look at the names of the stars he’s blocking.
“When I wasn’t in this league, I glorified guys out here,” he said.
He doesn’t anymore. He can’t.
I’ll have more with Ola in Sunday’s pregame version of Joniak’s Journal at 5:40P p.m. on WBBM’s “Countdown to Kickoff” from Santa Clara.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.