The Chicago Bears welcome the San Francisco 49ers to Soldier Field in Week 1’s kickoff of the 2022 NFL season. It’s a game that represents a new era of Bears football with coach Matt Eberflus making his head coaching debut and quarterback Justin Fields beginning his first season as the unquestioned starter.
It’ll be a difficult challenge for the Bears on many fronts. The young and unproven offensive line headlined by rookie left tackle Braxton Jones will square off against one of the NFC’s top pass-rush units, while Chicago’s defense will be tested by all-world offensive weapon Deebo Samuel.
Not much is expected from the Bears in Week 1. They’re a seven-point home underdog, which suggests Las Vegas thinks they’re going to lose by 10 or more. Chicago appears in the bottom five of every 2022 NFL Power Ranking and near the top of the draft order in all 2023 NFL mock drafts.
Part of the reason why there are such low expectations around the Bears this year is the offseason plan implemented by general manager Ryan Poles. He didn’t add any big names in free agency that will directly help Fields, nor did he spend either of his two second-round picks on a wide receiver or offensive lineman. Most pundits believe Fields has been set up to fail, beginning Sunday against the Nick Bosa-led 49ers.
I haven’t agreed with that opinion since it began gaining popularity. Poles has added talent at wide receiver, and he’s made calculated moves along the offensive line. None of the players are household names, but they do have upside. Guys like wide receivers Byron Pringle and Dante Pettis and center Lucas are upgrades over what was rostered in 2021. (Note: Patrick isn’t expected to start Sunday as he continues his recovery from a thumb injury on his snapping hand.)
There’s no denying the Bears’ roster isn’t as talented as the 49ers. From top to bottom, San Francisco is the better team. But until I see 49ers quarterback Trey Lance look the part of a franchise NFL quarterback, my confidence in San Francisco is low. Fields, at this point, is the better quarterback. And I think he’s going to get just enough help from Darnell Mooney and the playmakers on defense like Eddie Jackson, Kyler Gordon, and Roquan Smith to pull off a win — albeit in a close game.
Yes, I think the Bears can and will win Sunday’s game. Yes, I think Justin Fields will announce his arrival to the league as a quarterback that needs to be taken seriously in 2022. And while I don’t think Chicago will play a perfect game by any measure, the outlook for the Bears after Week 1 will change for the better across the NFL.
Final Score: Chicago 23, San Francsco 16