The Chicago Bears opened the 2022 NFL season with a 19-10 upset win over the San Francisco 49ers, where Matt Eberflus won his first NFL game as a head coach.
It was a tale of two halves for the Bears, where things seemed bleak in the first half before the team mounted a second-half comeback. They scored 19 unanswered points in the second half to outlast a team that many have pegged as Super Bowl contenders. Now, Chicago are tied for first place atop the NFC North.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what we saw during the game and how we graded the Bears in this win.
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It was a brutal start for the Bears offense in the first half, where nothing appeared to be working. The offensive line was overpowered by a dominant 49ers defensive front, and quarterback Justin Fields was sacked twice. Fields completed 3-of-9 passes for 19 yards with one interception, and he failed to connect with any receivers or tight ends in the entire first half. It looked like more of the same from the offense.
But then something incredible happened: Chicago made halftime adjustments, the offensive line got better as the game went on and Fields made some sensational plays that led to three second-half touchdown drives, including a 51-yard touchdown to Dante Pettis and an 18-yard score to Equanimeous St. Brown. The Bears run game struggled overall, and they finished the game with 99 rushing yards, but Khalil Herbert found some like in the second half, including the game-sealing touchdown.
It was far from perfect, but the offense showed signs of life. Fields showed that he’s the kind of quarterback that can make something happen out of nothing, and that’s probably the most encouraging thing. The Bears might just have their franchise quarterback. Now, imagine what he can do once they surround him with a better supporting cast.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
The Bears defense gave us a glimpse of what we can expect all season — a hard-fought, physical effort led by the H.I.T.S. principle. It started early with Chicago getting a crucial takeaway with the 49ers offense driving when Jaylon Johnson punched the ball out of Deebo Samuel’s hands. Rookie Jaquan Brisker recovered the fumble to stall San Francisco’s drive.
It was the young players who shined for the Bears defense, including rookies Dominique Robinson, Kyler Gordon and Brisker. Robinson had 1.5 sacks in his NFL debut while Brisker snagged Chicago’s first takeaway of the season and Gordon was solid in tackling. Heck, even Eddie Jackson seemed to go back in time as he snagged a fourth-quarter interception, which was reminiscent of his first couple of seasons in the league. It was Jackson’s first interception since 2019.
All-in-all, anytime you can hold a talented 49ers offense to 10 points, it’s a huge win. Granted, it’s difficult to fairly evaluate this unit given the weather circumstances. But in the first game for Eberflus’ defense, there’s reasons to be encouraged about the potential of this unit.
Special Teams: D+
AP Photo/David Richard
It was a rough day for Chicago’s special teams against San Francisco, where the weather got the best of kicker Cairo Santos and rookie punter Trenton Gill. While nothing disastrous happened on his punts, Gill committed a mistake at the end of the first half that cost the Bears a potential three points. He received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for wiping down the soaked field with a towel. Granted, it’s an obscure rule that no one had any idea existed before this game. But it still cost Chicago points and momentum heading into halftime. Meanwhile, the usually accurate Santos missed two extra points, which luckily didn’t come back to haunt the Bears.
AP Photo/David Banks
Matt Eberflus made his NFL coaching debut against a talented 49ers squad, where no one game his team a chance to win. But Eberflus led his team to an upset victory over a Super Bowl contender, where it was clear that his team has completely bought in. The Bears played smart and disciplined football (thank you, H.I.T.S.), where they only had three penalties opposed to San Francisco’s 12. After the last few years, it was refreshing to see a coaching staff that was able to make in-game and halftime adjustments that helped swing the game. The offense was dead in the water in the first half, and Luke Getsy made adjustments to help light a spark, courtesy of quarterback Justin Fields. It was overall an encouraging first game for this coaching staff, and the arrow is only pointing up.