3 keys for the Chicago Bears to upset the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1

3 keys for Bears to upset 49ers in Week 1 appeared first on NBC Sports Chicago

Week 1 is finally here. No more waiting. No more preparation. However, we have a few more views. The Bears enter the season as heavy underdogs against the 49ers, despite playing at Soldier Field, with betting lines hovering around seven points. Combine that with the 40.5 point over/under line and you can conclude that oddsmakers only expect the Bears to score around 17 points. Despite the bad vibes from Vegas, the Bears still have a path to victory on Sunday. It won’t be easy to beat last season’s runner-up in the NFC, but if the Bears can execute those three keys, they’ll give themselves a great chance to start the Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles era on a high note.

MAKE TREY LANCE COMFORTABLE

The 49ers’ second quarterback is arguably the game’s biggest x-factor. He has incredible playmaking ability at times. Other times he looked overwhelmed. The key to disrupting a young QB without much experience is no secret. Defenses have to create pressure and they have to keep him guessing. That’s exactly what Alan Williams will aim to do. Cover-2 schemes like the Bears have installed aren’t known for high blitz rates, but don’t be surprised if the Bears bring in extra rushers more often than expected to deal with Lance. At the same time, the Bears could fake a blitz down the line, only to drop back into pass zone coverage to try to confuse Lance into flying into a well-protected passing lane. Whatever the case, if the Bears can force Lance to make mistakes, they will give themselves more opportunities on offense and a better chance to win the game.

FIND A WAY TO CONTAIN DEEBO SAMUEL

The Bears differed when describing Samuel’s talent as a versatile playmaker. He is an excellent route runner, elusive with the ball in his hands and can threaten teams both horizontally and vertically. To combat this the Bears will need to remain disciplined with their keys. Alan Williams stressed the importance of players keeping their eyes where they need to be and ignoring all the “eyes” the 49ers will throw at them with motion pre-imaging. Beyond that, the Bears all said they’ll just have to rely on their HITS principles to keep him from making game-changing plays. Williams expects at least seven players to rush the football on every snap. With that mindset, the Bears will rely on numbers to land Samuel.

HELP TACKLE WITH NICK BOSA

Similar to Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa is a high-profile player that the Bears can only hope to retain, rather than completely eliminate. That task is made even more difficult when you consider the Bears will start rookie Braxton Jones and second-year punter Larry Borom at tight end. To help, the Bears should bring in extra guys to chip or double-team Bosa whenever possible. They can help the offensive line in other ways as well. We’ve seen Justin Fields have a lot of success out of the pocket in designed releases. If Luke Getsy takes advantage of Fields’ athleticism and takes the play away from Bosa, it will give these young tackles extra time to cover. When Fields has had time to throw the ball this preseason, he’s been nearly perfect, so the team will have to build on that time Sunday.
Considering the improvements on defense, the unknown with Lance and Getsy already showing that he understands how to take the spotlight off his inexperienced line, I think the Bears can pull off the upset to start the season.

PREDICTION OF FINAL SCORE

Bears 23, 49 20

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