The story line of the Bears-49ers championship game stirs nostalgic emotion. It recalls the days when football players got dirty, and reminds you how dull three yards and a cloud of dust really can be. It brings back the old. It stifles the new.

So much is expected of the big-shoulders Chicago defense vs. the high-tech San Francisco offense in today's NFC championship game at 4 p.m. at Candlestick Park (WDVM-TV-9) that Bears Coach Mike Ditka is wondering if his offense, i.e., Walter Payton, will ever get the ball.

"Maybe the network will want to black out that part," he said today.

He and Bill Walsh, the man who has brought the 49ers to the brink of a second Super Bowl in four seasons, believe the game will be won in those cliche-filled trenches.

"I just don't see either team washing the other away," Walsh said.

The 49ers, who ripped through their regular season 15-1 before beating the wild-card New York Giants, 21-10, last week, were expected to be here and are nine-point favorites. The Bears, 10-6 during the season before upsetting Washington, 23-19, for their first playoff victory since 1963, were not.

The Bears and the 49ers are fine, but we're missing old friends. This will be the first NFC championship game without either the Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys since 1979, when the Los Angeles Rams defeated Tampa Bay, 9-0.

It also may be one of the most tightly focused playoff games ever. If the league-leading Chicago defense can sack quarterback Joe Montana and ruin his day the way it did Joe Theismann's last week, the Bears probably will win.

But if Montana, the top-rated passer in the conference, and the well-balanced San Francisco offense can elude the blitz and find open receivers in their short passing game, then the 49ers probably will win.

The teams did not play this year, but they did in 1983, when the Bears won, 13-3. The 49ers blamed preparation, or lack thereof.

"There was too much confusion (in the offensive line)," said Bobb McKittrick, a 49ers assistant coach. "We won't have that this year."

The 49ers had a terrible time, rushing for only 72 yards and fumbling twice. Montana was intercepted twice and says it was the worst game he has ever played in the teeth of a blitz.

"I'm concerned," he said this week. "We had problems picking up that flop defense (the linebackers move to one side, and strong safety Todd Bell moves up as another linebacker). Hopefully, we can give our defense a little help this year."

It's possible, however, that the 49ers' pop-gun passing attack (the team's leading receiver was fullback Roger Craig) is the perfect counter for the Chicago defense.

"The fans get frustrated as well as the players," Montana said of the way the 49ers will have to play against the Bears. "They are used to seeing us running the ball right downfield. Now, it's going to be hit and miss, hit and miss."

But the 49ers have another problem. Their offense has been stalling late in the second quarter and idling through the rest of the game.

Last week, the 49ers scored 21 points in the first half and didn't look good offensively in a scoreless second half. They scored 17 of 19 points against the Rams in the first half of the last regular-season game. They did something similar in early victories against the Redskins and Giants.

When the Bears get the ball, expect another "gadget" play or two similar to last week's Payton-to-Pat Dunsmore touchdown pass.

"We need something to keep the secondary on their toes," said quarterback Steve Fuller. "After Walter threw that touchdown pass, it didn't scare them to death, but it made those guys sit back there a little longer and take a look."

Said Chicago tight end Emery Moorehead: "The philosophy of our offense is to get on the board early and control the tempo of the game by running the ball."

But Bears' Blitzes Meet 49ers' Passes NFC Championship Game Comes Down to Simple Matchup By Christine Brennan Washington Post Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 5 -- The story line of the Bears-49ers championship game stirs nostalgic emotion. It recalls the days when football players got dirty, and reminds you how dull three yards and a cloud of dust really can be. It brings back the old. It stifles the new.

So much is expected of the big-shoulders Chicago defense vs. the high-tech San Francisco offense in today's NFC championship game at 4 p.m. at Candlestick Park (WDVM-TV-9) that Bears Coach Mike Ditka is wondering if his offense, i.e., Walter Payton, will ever get the ball.

"Maybe the network will want to black out that part," he said today.

He and Bill Walsh, the man who has brought the 49ers to the brink of a second Super Bowl in four seasons, believe the game will be won in those cliche-filled trenches.

"I just don't see either team washing the other away," Walsh said.

The 49ers, who ripped through their regular season 15-1 before beating the wild-card New York Giants, 21-10, last week, were expected to be here and are nine-point favorites. The Bears, 10-6 during the season before upsetting Washington, 23-19, for their first playoff victory since 1963, were not.

The Bears and the 49ers are fine, but we're missing old friends. This will be the first NFC championship game without either the Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys since 1979, when the Los Angeles Rams defeated Tampa Bay, 9-0.

It also may be one of the most tightly focused playoff games ever. If the league-leading Chicago defense can sack quarterback Joe Montana and ruin his day the way it did Joe Theismann's last week, the Bears probably will win.

But if Montana, the top-rated passer in the conference, and the well-balanced San Francisco offense can elude the blitz and find open receivers in their short passing game, then the 49ers probably will win.

The teams did not play this year, but they did in 1983, when the Bears won, 13-3. The 49ers blamed preparation, or lack thereof.

"There was too much confusion (in the offensive line)," said Bobb McKittrick, a 49ers assistant coach. "We won't have that this year."

The 49ers had a terrible time, rushing for only 72 yards and fumbling twice. Montana was intercepted twice and says it was the worst game he has ever played in the teeth of a blitz.

"I'm concerned," he said this week. "We had problems picking up that flop defense (the linebackers move to one side, and strong safety Todd Bell moves up as another linebacker). Hopefully, we can give our defense a little help this year."

It's possible, however, that the 49ers' pop-gun passing attack (the team's leading receiver was fullback Roger Craig) is the perfect counter for the Chicago defense.

"The fans get frustrated as well as the players," Montana said of the way the 49ers will have to play against the Bears. "They are used to seeing us running the ball right downfield. Now, it's going to be hit and miss, hit and miss."

But the 49ers have another problem. Their offense has been stalling late in the second quarter and idling through the rest of the game.

Last week, the 49ers scored 21 points in the first half and didn't look good offensively in a scoreless second half. They scored 17 of 19 points against the Rams in the first half of the last regular-season game. They did something similar in early victories against the Redskins and Giants.

When the Bears get the ball, expect another "gadget" play or two similar to last week's Payton-to-Pat Dunsmore touchdown pass.

"We need something to keep the secondary on their toes," said quarterback Steve Fuller. "After Walter threw that touchdown pass, it didn't scare them to death, but it made those guys sit back there a little longer and take a look."

Said Chicago tight end Emery Moorehead: "The philosophy of our offense is to get on the board early and control the tempo of the game by running the ball."

But this flies right in the face of San Francisco offensive strategy, which is exactly the same. The 49ers outscored opponents, 124-29, in the first quarter.

Walsh expects to rely on maturity; 23 of his players wear 1982 Super Bowl rings.

The Bears? "We'll take chances," Ditka said. "If it works in our favor, it will put a lot of pressure on the other guys."

And if it doesn't? Don't ask.

The 49ers expect it will work. The Bears, after all, finally did emerge from the Black and Blue Division after a long hibernation.

"You take a beating some games," Montana said. "Some games, you don't. This one, we will." CAPTION: Picture 1, For the 49ers, Joe Montana handles the ball and Bill Walsh provides direction. UPI ; Picture 2, Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka is leanind toward using some trick plays in the NFC title game. "We'll take chances." (WP) this flies right in the face of San Francisco offensive strategy, which is exactly the same. The 49ers outscored opponents, 124-29, in the first quarter.

Walsh expects to rely on maturity; 23 of his players wear 1982 Super Bowl rings.

The Bears? "We'll take chances," Ditka said. "If it works in our favor, it will put a lot of pressure on the other guys."

And if it doesn't? Don't ask.

The 49ers expect it will work. The Bears, after all, finally did emerge from the Black and Blue Division after a long hibernation.

"You take a beating some games," Montana said. "Some games, you don't. This one, we will."Picture 1, For the 49ers, Joe Montana handles the ball and Bill Walsh provides direction. UPI; Picture 2, Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka is leanind toward using some trick plays in the NFC title game. "We'll take chances." By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post