Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is just as curious as anyone else to see how the San Francisco 49ers use quarterback Trey Lance in Sunday’s season opener between the two teams at Soldier Field.
Lance’s time in the preseason was somewhat limited, as he completed 11 of 16 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown in two games. In six regular-season games as a rookie in 2021 when he didn’t have the full playbook, Lance completed 41 of 71 passes for 603 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 38 times for 168 yards and a score.
So there’s some film on Lance for the Bears to look at, but Eberflus on Monday said he and his staff will also need to hypothesize on how coach Kyle Shanahan will deploy the second-year quarterback.
“You’re projecting a little bit,” said Eberflus, who was the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive coordinator from 2018 to 2021 before he became the Bears’ coach in January. “You have to project how they’re going to use the young man and where they’re going to use them in their offense.”
“We certainly have an idea of what this offense looks like. But how they’re going to use him, no one really knows. You have to use your rules, have your calls and make sure you’re sound.”
Eberflus is obviously aware of Lance’s mobility and said he’ll have some different players who can replicate that athleticism, including third-string quarterback Nate Peterman.
The Bears will certainly look to contain Lance and make him throw from the pocket.
“So we’ll have guys in there that could potentially do that for us,” Eberflus said of the scout team preparation.
Eberflus’ teams in Indianapolis finished in the top 10 in the NFL in scoring defense in three of his four years there, and were also among the league’s best in takeaways. The Colts had 19 interceptions last season, tied for third-most in the NFL.
How complex the Bears’ defense can be right off the hop in Eberflus’ first season is unclear. But he brought Alan Williams, the Colts’ safeties coach last season, to be his defensive coordinator. Dave Borgonzi (linebackers coach) and James Rowe (cornerbacks) also made the move from Indianapolis to Chicago.
Richard Hightower is Chicago’s special teams coordinator, a position he held with the 49ers for the last five years. Walnut Creek native Travis Smith, a Cal Poly alum, is the defensive line coach and joined the staff this year after 10 years with the Raiders.
The Bears’ defense has been revamped in areas and will have rookies Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon in the secondary.
The Bears, per Eberflus, should be mostly healthy for the opener. Per reports, defensive end Dominique Robinson was the only player who was held out of Monday’s brief practice.
The Bears’ defense has been revamped in areas, with rookies Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon lining up in the secondary. Linebacker Roquan Smith, playing in the final year of his rookie contract, was fifth in the NFL last season with 163 tackles.
“We’re in a good spot. We feel good where we are,” Eberflus said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work in, we’re progressing, getting better every single week and we like where we are right now.”
Contributed by local news sources