The Chicago Bears will face the San Francisco 49ers to open the 2022 season, which will kick off the Matt Eberflus era. But not many are giving Chicago a chance to pull off the upset.
While the focus has been on the Bears offense heading into the season, the defense has seen its share of changes this offseason. They added several new faces, including rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker, as they transition to a 4-3 defense. While the unit it improved, do they have it in them to contain San Francisco?
As the Bears prepare to face the 49ers, here’s what Chicago’s defense needs to do to contain San Francisco’s offense in Week 1.
Contain WR Deebo Samuel
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears aren’t going to stop 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, but they can do their best to contain him and take away San Francisco’s most lethal weapon for quarterback Trey Lance. Samuel was a huge problem for the Bears in last season’s meeting, where he caught six passes for 171 yards, including an 83-yard reception where he showed off his speed and playmaking ability. If the Bears stand any chance in this game, they’re going to need to make Samuel as much of a non-factor as possible.
Pressure QB Trey Lance
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
If there’s hope for Chicago in this matchup, it’s that they’re facing San Francisco to open the 2022 season. As Trey Lance makes the first start as the starter for the 49ers, the Bears defense needs to make his day as uncomfortable as possible. Lance remains inexperienced and any pressure would go a long way in forcing him into the kind of mistakes that could turn a close game in Chicago’s favor. Luckily for the Bears, outside of left tackle Trent Williams, there are questions along San Francisco’s offensive line. We’ll see if Chicago can take advantage.
Stop the run
Jason Miller/Getty Images
If you haven’t glanced at the forecast for Sunday’s opener, just know it’s going to be raining throughout the afternoon at Soldier Field. Which means we’re in for a whole lot of running in this game, which gives Chicago an advantage on offense but raises questions for the Bears on defense. Last season, Chicago’s defense struggled to stop the run. Heading into 2022, there are questions about the interior of the defensive line, which features new starters in Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson. If the Bears want to pull off an upset, they’re going to need the win the battle and the line of scrimmage, particularly when it comes to stopping the run.