It's draft night, April 27th, 2017. The Bears, previously sitting at No. 3 overall in the first round order, have traded up to the second slot. Their selection the new (hopeful) face of the franchise in former North Carolina star Mitchell Trubisky. One of the biggest shocks in draft history. A trade move no one expected, not even the head coach in John Fox: although the selection could have been foreseen. However, this pick and trade even now wasn't viewed that in "face of the franchise" way initially.
The opinions that flowed in over the coming days following the aftermath of Ryan Pace mortgaging the future of his organization into Trubisky all primarily centered along the lines of ... why? Remember, hindsight is always 20-20.
A general round-up of the public sentiment concerned:
- Did the Bears trade for Trubisky make any logical sense?
- Did the Bears actually have to trade up to select Trubisky?
- The trade itself is nonsensical, even if Trubisky turns out be good or great.
Meanwhile, the immediate reaction was anything but kind either, particularly on social media. See for yourself by searching "49ers swindled Bears" or "John Lynch (the 49ers' general manager) fleeced Bears" on Twitter to see for yourself.
The 49ers social media team got in on the fun themselves when tweeting a picture of their selection at No. 3 in former Stanford standout Solomon Thomas (the player many assumed the Bears may have selected at No. 3 or were trading up for) about to sack Trubisky in last year's Sun Bowl. That kind of tweeting is either an impressive troll job, heavily implying they believed they got the better of Pace and the Bears, or both.
Nevertheless that kind of tweeting and quick sentiment has fed into the public perception both abroad (across the league) and at home (an antsy Chicago seeking any semblance of progress from the Bears).
About two months earlier, San Francisco acquired all-time Bears leading scorer Robbie Gould in free agency. Gould, ever since being released by Chicago in late 2016 for seemingly being on the tail end of career, has made a ho-hum 31 of 33 kicks in stints with the Giants and 49ers. For comparison's sake, his former replacement Connor Barth made a paltry 29 of 39 attempts - capped by an embarrassing last second miss against the Lions a few weeks ago before his merciful release.
Gould, to his credit, somehow isn't bitter as he returns to Chicago for the first time.
"I wish those guys nothing but the best. I have no animosity" the veteran maintained when asked about Pace and company cutting him last August. Why would he be angry? He's still playing at the high performance clip he has throughout his entire career, while the Bears languish at the position.
Six months after the hectic Trubisky trade and eight months after Gould's acquisition, Lynch went out and got the man he wanted under center right before the NFL's trade deadline. That man being Chicago native (Arlington Heights represent!) Jimmy Garoppolo: all for the small sum of a second-round pick this year. Surely, the Bears could've traded for the native son "Jimmy G." instead, right? Some would so believe.
A cataclysm of events and franchise decisions all piling up on each other in succession connecting these Bears under Pace to Lynch's 49ers for quite awhile for the time being. Who come to a head for the first time (and definitely not the last) this Sunday at Soldier Field.
Never could the Bears be more ripe for either an attack of extreme unprecedented hindsight, or for a rejuvenating boost in their current trusting of the process.
The Bears, who have lost three straight coming off of the bye week, have rumors swirling around their coach being on his last legs. Confidence in Trubisky, at least in the general public, seems to be reaching a new low for a quarterback with seven career starts. Bears players are at each other's throats in the midst of these struggles, leading to guys losing jobs. And, last but not least, former Bears have call-outs ready for this dysfunction, TMZ style.
These 3-8 Bears haven't yet reached the all-out catastrophe that was the end of the Marc Trestman era; which included a benching of Jay Cutler partly orchestrated by both Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer publicly criticizing the quarterback, death threats from embattled defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, and the usual antics from Brandon Marshall at most of his NFL stops.
But for a Bears organization about to miss the postseason for the seventh consecutive year that's going to need a new coach to successfully develop the investment that is Trubisky: the angst is getting there. You can see the bubbles in the boiling water.
With another largely meaningless Bears' December slate of games on the horizon, at least concerning postseason viability, no one individual contest is bigger for this organization than coming out emphatically against the 49ers. San Francisco, after all, is used as the symbol of all of Pace's recent discontent.
This is the 49ers team everyone will compare the Bears' rebuild to, who has committed "highway robbery" in Chicago of late as if it was taking candy from a baby. In many's eyes, this is the team with the quarterback the Bears should have. This is the team with the kicker the Bears should have never released.
You may make think this San Francisco-Chicago matchup a throwaway. You might see it as an unnecessary battle between two squads with a combined four wins. But it most certainly isn't. These Bears need a boost, and badly. These Bears need their quarterback and the team as a whole, to make some kind of statement with their play, even for morale's sake going forward in both the short and long-term.
As he works through rookie struggles, to his credit, the main man of Halas Hall in Trubisky sees Sunday as merely another game.
"I need a win in the worst way no matter what week it is," said Trubisky.
Anyone who has ever said a 3-8 football team's games didn't matter for the future was wholeheartedly lying. Sunday's "Hindsight Bowl" is a championship in its own right.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and contributor to the Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.