Opening Sunday: 49ers at Bears Game Preview

| September 8th, 2022

For the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching at home…

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?





Chicago Bears.

What Do We Make of Week One?

Not much.

No one has ever seen a Luke Getsy-run offense.

No one has ever seen a Matt Eberflus program in action.

No one has ever seen Trey Lance play starting quarterback in the NFL.

No one actually knows what the football game being played Sunday at Soldier Field will look like. But here’s what we do know about these two teams: one (the road team) almost made the Super Bowl last season and the other (the home team) didn’t come close. And that seems to be the basis for the seven-point spread on the game.

But what a dramatic matchup for the opener. And the entirety of the football world, intelligently or not, will see the contest as Lance vs. Justin Fields.

Lance spent the entire 2021 season on the bench, after a few early cameos. The Niners are a popular preseason pick to make the Super Bowl but that will be wholly dependent on his performance. (And the team has a built-in insurance policy with the re-signing of Jimmy Garoppolo.) There are folks inside the building in San Francisco that aren’t sold on the young signal caller. Might that change after Sunday?

Fields had a terrible rookie season, primarily due to mismanagement from the whole of the Bears’ football operation. His mechanics have been altered. His confidence has grown. And his performance in the third preseason game was a line of optimism cocaine for a city of football addicts. The Nagy narrative has spared Fields any high-profile criticism for his rookie performance. Starting Sunday, the performances land solely on his (hopefully broad) shoulders.

Tweet of the Week (Kinda)

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Dannehy: Memories of Cade & Culpepper, Plus Thoughts on San Francisco

| September 7th, 2022

For Chicago Bears fans in their 30s, or early 40s, it might be hard not to compare Sunday’s quarterback showdown at Soldier Field with a similar contest 22 years ago. This one will hopefully end far better for the Bears in both the short and long term.

The San Francisco 49ers are led by a raw, second-year quarterback with tantalizing physical tools. They face a Bears team with a second-year quarterback who struggled as a rookie but was more highly thought of as a complete player. On Sept. 3, 2000, the Minnesota Vikings – a playoff team the year previous – started Daunte Culpepper, a raw, second-year quarterback with tantalizing physical tools. He faced Cade McNown, a second-year quarterback who struggled as a rookie but was more highly thought of as a complete player.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I watched this game as a college student at the ESPN Zone in Times Square. Most bars in NYC still didn’t have league-wide accessibility.]

That game ended up being perhaps McCown’s best as a professional. He completed 27 of 41 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception. He also ran for 87 yards on 10 attempts, adding another touchdown. The Bears managed 425 yards and 27 points, and the Gary Crowton offense looked like the future of the league.

But the Bears lost the game.

Culpepper struggled as a passer, completing just 13 of 23 passes for 190 yards and an interception. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass but ran for three scores and 73 yards. A 20-9 Bears lead disappeared in the second half but both teams exited Week One feeling good about their young passers. Ultimately, neither proved a long-term answer. McCown was benched eight weeks later and exited the NFL abruptly. Culpepper had a far more substantial career, but the Vikings continually fell short of lofty expectations.

What can we learn? Simply that one game does not make a season and certainly won’t define a career. But the quarterbacks will always be connected.

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