San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears: Matchups, prediction for game between two struggling offenses

The San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears game Sunday has a few storylines surrounding the immediate and long-term futures of rookie QBs.

The San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears is a tale of two teams heading toward the same destination from opposite ends of the Earth. Prior to the season, the 49ers fooled Vegas, which predicted the 49ers would win 10.5 games in 2021. Meanwhile, Vegas set the Bears’ win total at 7.5. Now, both teams are headed toward lost campaigns and have plenty of blame to go around.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears storylines

The Bears have no business being a three-win team at this point of the season. As the Daniel Craig meme eloquently states, “It makes no damn sense. Compels me though.”

Meanwhile, the 49ers have finally reached a point where they struggle running the football, something they haven’t had to worry about much in some time. But the real question is, what happens when Trey Lance is healthy enough to play again?

Is this Jimmy Garoppolo’s last start?

If Lance is healthy in Week 9, he should be the starter. The 49ers aren’t competing in 2021, and they need to give Lance the reps. He needs live action to better get a feel for the game. The NFL is so much faster than the 17 games he played at the FCS level.

17 games —  that’s all this young man played during his college career. 17 games at the FCS level is all that separated him from the NFL.

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That is a massive jump. Lance needs patience from the fanbase and coaching staff because this could take time. But his physical upside and his character as a human are everything an organization looks for in a franchise quarterback.

Unless San Francisco’s front office truly believes this team is a playoff contender, this should be Jimmy Garoppolo’s last start.

Can Justin Fields survive his offensive line?

Yes, but not as a consistently successful quarterback. Chicago’s offensive line is a complete travesty. It’s impressive that Justin Fields continues to hang in there to deliver passes. When Fields has time to deliver passes — save for the downfield attempt to Allen Robinson from his own end zone in Week 7 — he’s played well.

However, more often than not, Fields has no time to deliver passes to the intermediate and deep areas of the field — a style he flourished in while at Ohio State. So, the Bears are mixing in quick passing concepts and going empty to try and force him to speed his process up on the fly.

Fields has had mixed results in the quick game since it’s not something he did at the college level (because the Buckeyes let him sling it). If Fields survives the season without some lingering shellshock, it’ll say a lot about his mental fortitude.

Can Bears receivers and Justin Fields get on the same page?

Who could have seen this coming? Matt Nagy was steadfast in his support of Andy Dalton during the offseason, and it meant that Fields missed out on first-team reps with Robinson, Darnell Mooney, and the rest of the Bears’ offensive weapons.

The way most rookie quarterbacks were handled this offseason was abhorrent. Still, as a coach already on the hot seat, Nagy’s only real hope of survival rested on the early success of his rookie QB asset.

Nagy’s already failed with one first-round quarterback (Mitchell Trubisky). He will not be extended the same grace this time around. Chicago’s passing attack is pathetic, yet somehow there are still teams worse. Fields and the receivers took things into their own hands this past week by holding players-only meetings.

Unfortunately, it might not be enough with this play-caller and offensive line.

Is Kyle Shanahan running out of hall passes?

49ers fans certainly seem to be more critical of their head coach this season, especially now that the team is receiving somewhat healthy quarterback play for the first time since their Super Bowl run a few years ago.

San Francisco is the top team in red-zone offense, but they’re still only scoring 22.4 points per game. They’re 19th in expected points added/play and 20th in success rate, despite spending assets all over the offense for years.

Still, it’s the defense that’s kept them afloat. The team is also undisciplined, accumulating 80.8 penalty yards per game, most in the NFL.

In five years as a head coach, Kyle Shanahan has only had one winning season. In fact, he’s only had one season with more than six victories. I understand Garoppolo hasn’t stayed healthy outside of 2019, but eventually, there has to be some accountability.

San Francisco vs. Chicago betting line and game prediction

If anybody wanted to know how ugly of a game this should be, the 49ers are a 4-point favorite on the road in a game with an over/under of 39.5.

I don’t see how Fields has time to breathe passing the football with Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on the opposite side. This puts the pressure on a rushing attack that surprisingly found success last week against a terrific Buccaneers run defense.

Chicago simply doesn’t have the juice offensively. However, with Josh Norman and Talanoa Hufanga in San Francisco’s secondary, we could see a big play or two to Mooney to keep the game respectable.

49ers vs. Bears Prediction: 49ers 21, Bears 17

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