Week 1 Preview: Chicago Bears vs San Francisco 49ers

Two stars of the 2021 NFL Draft face off in an NFC clash between the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears this week. Quarterbacks Trey Lance and Justin Fields take the field for teams that finished the 2020 season on opposite ends of the standings; the 49ers fought their way deep into the playoffs before narrowly losing a closely contested NFC Championship game, and the Bears missed the postseason completely by finishing 6-11. Consequently, the Bears find themselves enormous 6.5-point home underdogs in their home opener.

The Bears had a tough season last year under rookie quarterback Fields, who took a sack on a brutal 11.8% of his dropbacks and threw 10 interceptions to only seven touchdown passes. An offseason devoid of significant free agent additions hasn't inspired much optimism in Bears fans, particularly given the departure of wide receiver Allen Robinson II, last year's leading receiver and one of the team's lone bright spots on offense. The Bears are hoping the minor, strategic signings of Riley Reiff and Alex Leatherwood can make a world of difference for last year's porous offensive line, but Fields will have to make massive individual strides in his development if the Bears are going to improve on last year's 27th ranking in points scored.
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Trey Lance finds himself in a much more favorable position than his fellow 2021 draft pick. He takes over an offense that ranked 13th in scoring under quarterback Jimmy Garroppolo last year and features All-Pros at receiver, tackle, and tight end with Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, and George Kittle. The 49ers hope Lance can bring an element of mobility that could propel their already potent rushing attack to another level. The team ranked seventh last year in rushing yards, and Lance accounted for an amazing 1100 yards on the ground in his last full season as a starter with North Dakota State.

Lance's achievements at small school North Dakota State pale in comparison to Fields' at perennial Ohio State, but the two find themselves in opposite positions in the pros. Fields will have to be brilliant to lift up a middling Bears squad to competitiveness; Lance needs only to play competently for the 49ers to continue their winning ways. 

The Chicago Bears host the San Francisco 49ers meet this Sunday in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

Photo Credit: © Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports