It's week one and the "San Francisco" 49ers are coming to Soldier Field to play some pigskin with our Beloved Bears. I got the opportunity to extract 5 answers from one of the competition's most trusted sources: fellow SBNation contributor Tyler Austin.
1. Presumably, this game will be the first start for Trey Lance, who has tons of talent, but I've been told he's only thrown approximately 12 footballs in his life. Do you think he's ready despite his limited experience, or will this be a good opportunity for the Chicago Bears to highlight their new emphasis on takeaways?
This is technically his third start in the NFL, just his first as the officially named starter of the San Francisco 49ers. The exact number of college throws lands at 318, plus 71 in his limited playing time last season, brings the career grand total to 389, which is not a lot. However, Lance seems to have done everything you'd want from a young, therefore, unpolished talent over his first year and change in the league.
He showed marked improvement from his first start against the Cardinals to his second against the Texans defense, who had only the week prior gave fits to Justin Herbert, and seemingly spent the entire off-season honing in his throwing motion and working with the team's receivers to build chemistry.
At this point, after so much superfluous outside chatter about Lance, and if he was the right pick, and how the Niners are destined to implode because of him, whether or not he is ready, I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am! Please, I would just like to see this kid play some football. He's an extremely gifted athlete with a cannon for an arm, and there will definitely be some bumps along the way, but right now, all I want to do is turn on this Sunday's game and see an extremely gifted athlete with a cannon for an arm run the 49ers offense! Is that so much to ask?
2. There's been a resurgence of gossip that Kyle Shanahan preferred other quarterbacks over Trey Lance but was pressured into going along with the selection by others in the 49ers organization, and/or (my favorite hypothesis) draft Twitter. Do you think there's any truth to that?
Having now watched the 49ers under Kyle Shanahan for five seasons, I really do not believe there's any way that that man could be pressured or bullied into doing a single thing that he doesn't want to do. I don't think you could pressure him into game planning for a player who's in the dog house. I don't think you could pressure him into keeping a player who he thinks should be cut.
I don't even think you could pressure him into ordering some fries for the table because you want some fries, but not an entire order, and you want other people to help you from wasting food, but Kyle's cutting back on fried foods, and you tell him he could just have a few, and he would still turn you down flat.
I mean, have you seen the video of him on the sideline when Mike Pettine wants him to call a run? It looks like when Darth Vader's about to choke out Admiral Ozzel for having a disturbing lack of faith. This happened in a game against the 0-6 Raiders, as the offensive coordinator for a coach with whom he had issues, and later gave a 32 point presentation to as to why he would be stepping down from his position.
Do you think he'd allow anyone to tell him who to draft, especially at the game's most important position for the side of the ball that most years doesn't even have a designated coordinator because he calls the plays and that he's so particular about how it runs that he'd rather just leave it vacant?
Yeah, me neither.
3. The Bears have a cool new offense courtesy of Luke Getsy. I can't help but recall that in his time in Green Bay, Getsy did not have a ton of success against the 49ers defense. Assuming Getsy will run something similar to recent Packers schemes, do you think SF is a bad opponent for the Bears to roll out their fancy new offense against? It probably wasn't the offense, right? Maybe Aaron Rodgers was just high on ayahuasca?
This is an interesting point. The Niners have put together a great deal of success shutting down Rodgers and his offense in recent years and, most recently, in a road win that seemed to snap that franchise's psyche in half. However, it's not just specific to them.
The 49ers defense, and in particular, their defensive line, have been designed to terrorize any quarterback standing before them. It has top end talent, it has versatile pieces which can play inside and out, it has the depth to send wave after wave of fresh legs, and it has a leader who manages to kick these guys into gears they didn't even know they had. On top of that, they deploy some of the most creative and confounding stunts known to man, consistently putting this stable of mad dogs in the best position to eat.
Hold on one second… *looks at Bears' starting offensive line*
Honestly, I'm a little worried for Justin Fields.
4. What new 49ers are you most excited to watch play week one?
Top of the list has to be Charvarious Ward. The 49ers never put much importance on the secondary. Even when they signed Richard Sherman, he was coming off a torn Achilles' tendon on a team-friendly contract. Since then they've mostly run out an undrafted free agent as the number two and a whole score of players that looked unfit for the position. A defensive line isn't always going to get home or generate pressure, and if you don't have guys who can cover in the modern NFL, you will lose ball games.
Seemingly, they learned this lesson when they went out and spent real free agent dollars to lock down a true number one shutdown corner, and based on reports from training camp, he was worth every penny. He's a perfect fit for the system that DeMeco Ryans wants to run, and brings a nasty, physical side with him. I'm anxious to see what a player of that caliber can do for an already stellar unit.
Let's throw an honorable mention here to Danny Gray. You might best know him as the player that smoked the entire Packers defense on Trey Lance's 76 yard bomb back in the first preseason game. The Niners spent a third-round pick on him to fill a void that the offense couldn't utilize under Jimmy G: The Deep Threat. His speed has looked absolutely off the charts and paired with a QB who can throw the ball a mile, I'd say you could imagine the possibilities, but they've already shown us.
5. Do you remember that time Justin Fields scrambled on 4th and 1 for a 21-yard touchdown run?
Sure! Do you remember Deebo Samuel taking a tunnel screen 83 yards to the goal line on 3rd & 20, thus swinging the momentum of the game and entire Niners' season in one fell swoop? Because I remember!
There you have it. Tons of wisdom about this week's opponent and a weird reference to a forgettable jaunt from 49ers receiver "Deebo Samuel" (you probably know him as the slow Velus Jones Jr.). Looks like it will be a good matchup for our Beloved!
Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook have you covered for this game and all the week's NFL action.