Get pumped that we’ve survived another offseason and the NFL season is finally here.
There is a lot to be excited about for the Chicago Bears, despite the lackluster expectations from the national media. Bears fans are excited to see Justin Fields work in a competent offense and new head coach Matt Eberflus has shown enough in the preseason to suggest that maybe they hired a good one.
The schedule is a little easier than last year’s, but it doesn’t start that way.
The 49ers are coming to Chicago with big expectations after an NFC Championship Game appearance last year. The jury is out on their quarterback, Trey Lance, the third overall pick a year ago, but the team obviously believes in him enough to hand him the keys.
Their offense, and the team overall, is loaded with stars. It’s a big early test to see if the Bears’ hard practices and HITS principles from their new head coach will lead to better results against the big dogs of the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers
SB Nation site: Niners Nation
Record: 10-7, third in the NFC West, lost NFC Championship Game to the Rams
Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX
Spread: San Francisco -7, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The total is at 40.
Bears all-time record against: 32-32-1 regular season, 0-3 playoffs
Historical meetings: The Bears and 49ers have played in week one three previous times. Two of those three were very ugly losses for the beloved. So let’s go all the way back to 1962 to look at a good result.
The Bears opened the ‘62 campaign by going out to San Francisco and running the ball 39 times and having Bill Wade throw just 13 times. Wade, by the way, completed five of those passes. Wow, 1960s football was different.
Anyway, Willie Gallimore rushed for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 8.2 yards per carry and RIck Caseres added 68 yards and a touchdown as well. Gallimore, living up to his Willie The Whisp nickname, scored on runs of 37 and 77 yards.
The Bears actually opened the scoring with a Rosey Taylor 43-yard pick six.
The Bears won 30-14.
Last meeting: Halloween last year. Week 8, the 2-4 49ers came to Soldier Field against the 3-4 Bears.
It was Justin Fields’ first 100-yard rushing game and overall one of his better games from last season, but San Francisco scored 18 fourth quarter points, including a five-yard run by Jimmy Garoppolo to retake the lead.
The 49ers won 33-22.
But the highlights were really:
The Bears play the 49ers on Sunday, can Justin Fields play well enough to beat them this time? pic.twitter.com/GaAd7iy53h— Next Man Up (@NextMansUp) September 6, 2022
Injury report: The 49ers listed seven players on their Wednesday injury report. Only three were limited or non-participants.
- LB Dre Greenlaw (elbow)
Did not participate
- TE George Kittle (groin)
- OL Daniel Brunskill (hamstring)
Offense: Last season the 49ers finished seventh in yards and 13th in points. Their rushing offense ranked seventh and passing offense ranked 12th.
This season they have second year QB Trey Lance (57.7 pct cmp/603 yds/5 TD/2 INT in 2021) at the helm instead of Jimmy G.
His weapons are plentiful and dangerous in different ways. Led by Deebo Samuel (77 rec/1,405 yds/6 TD), who is also a run threat (59 car/365 yds/8 TD), they also have Brandon Aiyuk (56/826/5), who finished the season strong. Oh, and don’t forget about George Kittle (71/910/6), who remains one of the three or four best tight ends in the league.
This game might be one of only two or three in the league on Sunday to feature two fullbacks, with Kyle Juszcyk (30/296/1 as a receiver and 8/22/1 on the ground) and Chicago’s Khari Blasingame.
In Kyle Shanahan’s run game, he has Eli Mitchell (207 att/963 yds/5 TD) returning, along with Jeff Wilson (79/294/2). They’ve added Tyrion Davis-Price from LSU through the draft.
Lance also has some running ability. He had 38 carries for 168 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
Defense: San Fran’s defense a season ago was one of the best in the league. They ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.
Their passing defense was sixth in yards allowed and their rushing defense was seventh.
The stars on this defense start up front with Nick Bosa (15.5 sks/21 TFL/32 QB hits/4 FF) and Arik Armstead (6 sks/11 QB hits) and followed closely by Fred Warner (137 tkls/7 TFL/1 FF/4 PD).
In the secondary, there’s Jimmie Ward (2 INT/6 PD/77 tkls) and Emmanuel Moseley (1 INT/11 PD/42 tkls).
In the draft they added OLB Drake Jackson out of USC.
Key match ups: This is a huge opening day test for the offensive line, especially Braxton Jones on Nick Bosa.
Justin Fields is going to be tested by DeMeco Ryans’ defense. The 49ers’ front four is going to test the Bears OL. Watch for the 49ers to bring Fred Warner up to the line of scrimmage for a tilted front look (Credit to Matt Bowen via Twitter).
On offense, Deebo, Kittle and Aiyuk are going to test the secondary of Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon and Lamar Jackson. The 49ers will want to see just how good of playing shape Roquan Smith is in early, too.
Kittle on Smith will be interesting, depending on Kittle’s health, obviously.
- The 49ers were 6-3 on the road last year, including a win at Soldier Field
- There haven’t been a lot of long streaks in these teams’ history. Since 2000, the 49ers dropped three in a row to Chicago from 2004-06, but since 2009, the series leans 5-3 to the 49ers, but neither team has won more than two straight (2009 and 2012 to the 49ers).
- The last five meetings have been decided by an average margin of eight points
- The Bears are 10-7 at home in week one since 1992.
- The 49ers are 9-6 on the road in week one since 1992.
- Under Kyle Shanahan (since 2017), the 49ers are 2-3 in week one.
- The last five Bears head coaches are 2-3 in their debut game.
Can the Bears pull off a week one upset? How are you feeling heading into the season? Are your expectations higher or lower than the national perception of the Bears?
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