The Trey Lance vs. Justin Fields match-up may be the ultimate decider in the Bears’ season opener.
The Chicago Bears open up the season against the San Francisco 49ers who made it all the way to the NFC Title game a year ago. Top to bottom, the 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL. They have a strong offensive line, good receivers, a good rushing attack, and one of the best TEs in the game. On defense, they have good interior players, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, one of the best linebackers in the NFL and a strong secondary.
Everything the 49ers have is the opposite of what the Bears have and therefore the 49ers should dominate the Bears in the opener.
The 49ers have seven players in the Top-100 players in the NFL as voted on by their peers.
Those players are wide receiver Deebo Samuel (No. 19), tight end George Kittle (No. 22), defensive end Nick Bosa (No. 25), linebacker Fred Warner (No. 47), safety Jimmie Ward (No. 96), and fullback Kyle Juszczk (No. 100).
The Chicago Bears on the other hand have only three players in the NFL Top-100, including running back David Montgomery (No. 98), linebacker Roquan Smith (No. 84), and defensive end Robert Quinn (No. 48).
But the overall talent gap is immense across the roster. The 49ers have exactly what fans of the Chicago Bears want.
That being said, the Bears have one advantage right now that no one is talking about, at the quarterback position. Both Trey Lance and Justin Fields were drafted in the same NFL draft and both were supposed to sit out the year and develop within the system. The problem is Justin Fields ran away with the starting job in training camp and then when Andy Dalton struggled and then was injured became the starter.
So Fields has experience where Trey Lance has minimal. In the preseason Justin Fields showed immense promise and growth, whereas Trey Lance struggled. The 49ers are so confident in Trey Lance in fact, that they refused to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and instead came to a reduced contract agreement to keep him in San Francisco just in case Lance struggles this season in a season where the 49ers are expected to compete for a Super Bowl title.
So a deep dive into the reality of the NFL presents us with the “any given Sunday” conundrum. Basically, this is the NFL, both teams have professional football players, and the gap in talent between the top teams and the bottom teams isn’t the same as it is in college football. The Bears are fully capable of beating the 49ers at home and they’re capable of beating the 49ers based on how well Justin Fields plays over Trey Lance.
The best of teams have oftentimes been derailed by a lack of solid QB play. The Bears aren’t going to have that problem with Justin Fields. Justin Fields is on the verge of turning the corner and becoming a great QB. Fields has shown throughout training camp and the preseason that he has full command of the Bears’ offense because they’ve built that offense around him instead of trying to fit him into an offense that he can’t run.
While most media members were looking for perfection from Fields, what they kept reporting on was growth from Fields. That growth in turn showed up in the games. Without question, it will show up in week one against the 49ers.
So the Bears have a lot of potential on offense, with Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, Larry Borom, Teven Jenkins and Braxton Jones. The Bears don’t know what they have but they will be better on offense than they were a year ago because Mooney and Kmet will be better than they were a year ago within this offense. Those are proven commodities that shouldn’t be overlooked.
On the offensive line, the Bears faced a multitude of issues that led to their highest sack rate in the NFL. Starting with 4 different offensive tackles who started games for the Bears a year ago constituting a combined 36 games missed. Add to it that only 15 designed rollouts were called all year long, a non-existent screen game and very little play-action pass usage and you were basically telling the defensive line to rush to a single point and that will disrupt Matt Nagy’s entire scheme. That won’t be the case this year under Luke Getsy as the Bears have already shown
So the San Francisco 49ers have the proven talent advantage at almost every position group across the line, but one. The Trey Lance versus Justin Fields battle may be what ultimately decides the game between the Bears and the 49ers. The advantage is with San Francisco in overall talent, but an opportunistic Bears secondary could shift momentum with a couple of key turnovers that ultimately decide the game.
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