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Joe Staley Eyes Strong Finish to 2016 Season

ORLANDO, Fla. – "Mo" Joe Staley has a mission for the final five games of the 2016 regular season.

Finish strong.

The San Francisco 49ers five-time Pro Bowl tackle detailed his mindset while speaking with reports following the team's second practice at the University of Central Florida before Sunday's road game against the Chicago Bears.

"It's kind of no consolation this late in the season," Staley began, "but I do feel like we're building toward something at the end of the year - try to finish the season on a strong note."

A win in Chicago could go a long way in Staley's mind.

"We've got to get out of this slump right now and get back to winning football, winning ways, just feel what it feels like to win again," the offensive lineman said. "Build on one (win), and build on two (wins) and carry that momentum into the offseason instead of, you know, end the season terribly and then going off and wiping that off from our mind and go (out) with some positive mojo."

The 49ers (1-10) could snap a franchise-record 10-game slide with another road win against the Bears (2-9). Coincidentally, Week 13 of the 2015 regular season saw these two teams match up at Soldier Field. Torrey Smith's 71-yard, walk-off touchdown catch in overtime clinched the road team's victory.

Both teams, however, will look different in this return match.

Chicago, like San Francisco, has been decimated by injuries this season. The Bears are on their third, three-game losing streak of the season and will start Matt Barkley at quarterback for a second straight week.

Offensively, the 49ers must limit the Bears pass-rush. Chicago has produced 24 sacks this season, which ranks tied for 15th in the NFL. San Francisco has allowed 28 sacks on the year, tied for seventh most in the league. San Francisco, on the other hand, currently features the league's fourth-best rushing attack, 126.5 yards per game.

Chip Kelly, like Staley, was very complimentary of the Bears pass-rushers and defensive front they'll soon to play.

"I think that their two outside players, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young are real long, tall, athletic and big," the 49ers coach said. "I think their front is very stout. Their two defensive linemen are very big inside, all three defensive linemen if they stay in base is big inside.

"They've lost a couple linebackers just like we've lost a couple linebackers. So I think it starts with their front, and I think their front's really kind of done a really good job of controlling the line of scrimmage in the games that they've played."

Staley recalled the challenge of facing Young in the 2015 matchup. Young recorded 1.5 sacks that day. Staley allowed 2.5 sacks against the Bears and called it one of his worst performances of the year. Staley remembered Young as a long-armed pass-rusher, who can beat you around the edge and run through you with a “heavy-head” bull-rush.

"He's really good," Staley said of Young. "Last year, was the first time I played him 1-on-1 for a whole game. He was a situational, third-down pass-rusher when he was with the (Detroit) Lions, and he worked me last year. … He consistently beat me around the edge. I'm really looking forward to this game."

Despite San Francisco's current record, Staley points to individual matchups as a source of motivation. He watched the 2015 Bears game tape twice already this week.

"Regardless of what our record is," Staley began, "Individually, 1-on-1, I'm really looking forward to that matchup, testing myself again."

And if the matchup goes in Staley's favor, it could very well lead to a much-needed victory to start the "Mojo" mission.

Staley said practices at UCF have been energetic and beneficial. Perhaps it propels the 49ers to finishing off their 10-game road trip on the right note.

"It's like how you formulate memories," Staley said. "If it's a terrible trip, and you end on a great memory, you remember it as a good trip. That's kind of the way the brain is wired. I think that's a real thing."

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