Brandon Aiyuk excited for 49ers-Bears in Chicago, where 2021 season turned

·2 min read

Aiyuk excited to return to site of 49ers' 2021 turnaround originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA -- The last time the 49ers visited Soldier Field, the trajectory of their season seemed to change. Brandon Aiyuk is hoping that kicking off the 2022 season in Chicago has a similar effect.

The 49ers' 33-22 Week 8 win vs. the Chicago Bears in 2021 snapped a four-game losing streak and helped propel the club to a finale in the NFC Championship Game. The win ignited a group that previously had been struggling on the field to win seven of their following 10 games.

Two weeks after the club’s Week 6 bye, Aiyuk was refocused and on the rise. The wideout caught four of his six targets for 45 yards in the Week 8 win and diverted attention away from Deebo Samuel, who shocked the Bears while catching six of his nine targets for 171 yards.

“I feel like Chicago was the point in the season where it was special to a lot of people in this locker room,” Aiyuk said to NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “I feel like it’s a crazy sign that we are going there to start off the season, so I’m super excited.”

Jimmy Garoppolo shined in front a large faction of friends and family in his hometown of Chicago last season, completing 17 of his 28 attempts for 322 yards and tacking on two rushing touchdowns. Not to be left out, Elijah Mitchell carried the ball 18 times for 137 yards and a touchdown.

The defense also got in on the fun, registering four sacks of quarterback Justin Fields -- one apiece by linebacker Marcell Harris and defensive end Samson Ebukam, and two by Nick Bosa.

Sunday also marks the return of Robbie Gould to his hometown field where he played for 11 seasons. The kicker missed the 2021 matchup due to a groin injury that kept him sidelined for four games.

Of course, Sunday also is the beginning of a new era for the 49ers with Trey Lance as the leader of the offense. The club has new pieces around their young quarterback with an unproven group on the interior of the offensive line, but the skill players that surround him are all familiar faces.

“We feel like it was a breaking point in our season,” Aiyuk said. “So to start there, and have that same exact feeling, I’m excited to get out there.”

RELATED: How unfazed Aiyuk, Mitchell plan to combat any rain vs. Bears

It’s not the same season, nor roster, but the 49ers hope to establish momentum in Chicago on Sunday comparable to what they felt in 2021.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast