Bears risers and fallers after Week 1 win over 49ers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Bears pulled off the Week 1 upset against the 49ers largely due to big plays made by Justin Fields and timely takeaways. A few standout performances from other players helped paved the way to victory, too. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though. The entire first half was a disaster, and a handful of players didn’t make a big impact, when presented with big opportunities.
The Bears fifth-round draft pick went from a limited participant in practice for most of the week, to an impact player early on Sunday. Robinson first popped with a 3rd-and-7 sack on the 49ers second drive of the game. It was a big play to knock the Niners out of field goal range and keep the game scoreless. Robinson added another half sack later in the game, and was flying around whenever he was on the field. He finished the day with seven tacklesー which only trailed Roquan Smith’s nine tacklesー despite playing in a rotation with Robert Quinn, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Trevis Gipson.
For all the questions about how Smith could fit into Matt Eberflus’ and Alan Williams’ defense as the WILL linebacker, Smith came out with no preseason work and performed the way he alway has. Smith showed off his speed, and why he can be a tackling machine working as an offball linebacker in this scheme. He also made a fantastic leaping PBU, with his arms fully extended. That tipped ball didn’t end up as an interception, but the way the Bears have practiced swarming ot the ball, there’s a great chance it could end up in a teammate’s hands if he does it again. Smith will have to create takeaways to take the next step as an elite WILL linebacker, but Week 1 was a great start for him.
The Bears run game struggled for most of the afternoon, but Herbert was able to find the most wiggle room near the line of scrimmage. Herbert displayed the elusiveness and field vision we saw during his rookie campaign last season, and finished the day with a much better line than David Montgomeryー nine carries for 45 yards and a touchdown vs. 17 carries for 26 yards. Herbert also showed up on special teams, making a tackle on the kickoff following his touchdown.
After playing well throughout the preseason at right guard, with incredibly limited experience at the position, Jenkins found himself in a Week 1 rotation at the position with Lucas Patrick. It was an up and down game for Jenkins, too. He started poorly, whiffing on a block which led to a Justin Fields sack on the first drive of the game. But when Jenkins re-entered the game later he played better, including one snap where he neutralized Nick Bosa, then went up to the second level to take out another defender. Matt Eberflus said he doesn’t know how the team will address the position moving forward; he still has to look at the tape. Regardless, Sunday’s rotation was a clear sign that the Bears aren’t convinced Jenkins is the answer at right guard just yet.
The Bears signed Byron Pringle this year with the expectation that he could take a leap in his development with a bigger opportunity than he had with the Chiefs. But he missed a bunch of training camp with a quadriceps injury, and wasn’t particularly effective when he was on the field. Pringle was healthy enough to play on Sunday, but barely factored into the offense. To be fair, no wide receivers made a huge mark on Sunday, but Pringle was only targeted twice, and he only caught one of those targets for a 22-yard gain. Meanwhile, Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis each came away with touchdowns. Pringle has a long way to go to work himself back into serious relevancy in the passing game.
Jones had an impressive training camp and preseason this year, creating havoc pretty much any time the team put on pads. With the 49ers looking shaky in the middle of their interior line, the expectation was that Jones could get out to a hot start on the season as the disruptive three-tech the team needs on its defensive line. Instead, Jones hardly broke through into the backfield and finished with just two tackles, neither of which went for a loss. He didn’t touch Trey Lance. Jones did have a pass defended to buoy his day, but the Bears will need much more production for him moving forward if they want their defense to operate as planned.
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