The Chicago Bears and San Francsico 49ers aren’t all that different. Sure, the 49ers are beginning the 2022 season with playoff expectations while the Bears are consistently ranked among the NFL’s worst clubs. But both teams’ short- and long-term futures rest squarely on the right arms of 2021 first-round quarterbacks, Justin Fields and Trey Lance.
The offseason chatter around the Bears focused on general manager Ryan Poles’ apparent failure to put Fields in a position to succeed in his second season. Lance, meanwhile, will throw passes to All-Pro targets like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle while having the NFL’s best offensive tackle, Trent Williams, blocking his blindside. But it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies for Lance, who unlike Fields, has an established veteran in Jimmy Garoppolo behind him on the depth chart.
The 49ers brought Garoppolo back on a reduced contract after trade speculation dominated the last several months. Perhaps, San Francisco couldn’t find a deal they liked. But there’s also a chance that Lance hasn’t impressed enough for coach Kyle Shanahan to fully commit to the former No. 3 overall pick.
In Sunday’s season opener at Soldier Field, the Bears defense can turn up the heat on Lance (and Shanahan) if they fool the young quarterback into errant throws and turnovers. The good news for Lance is his first game is on the road; no boo-birds. The bad news? Jimmy G.
“We all know how it’ll go,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “I also know if Jimmy wasn’t here and Trey did bad how it would go. So we understand that. The fact that he has this successful quarterback behind him, that’s obvious how that narrative will be and understandably so.”