The Chicago Bears open the season Sunday, welcoming the San Francisco 49ers to Soldier Field in a game that pits a pair of second-year starting quarterbacks against one another.
But the Justin Fields vs. Trey Lance battle won’t be the only thing worth tracking this weekend. Here are a handful of eye-catching facts and figures.
Rookies currently on the Bears 53-man roster, clear evidence of the roster overhaul new general manager Ryan Poles has been overseeing since January. Only 19 players on the roster were with the organization when Poles arrived. Seven players have joined the team just this month. In addition, 42% of the current 53-man roster consists of players who are either in their first or second seasons in the league.
Projected Week 1 starters for the Bears who are playing under their rookie contracts. That includes linebacker Roquan Smith and running back David Montgomery, who are both entering contract seasons and uncertain what their future with the organization holds beyond this season. It also includes safety Jaquan Brisker, cornerback Kyler Gordon and left tackle Braxton Jones, three rookies who won roles as Week 1 starters.
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Regular-season victories by Lovie Smith in his nine seasons as Bears coach. Smith is the only Bears coach in the post-Mike Ditka era to have won at least 50 games with the organization. He is also the only one to win multiple playoff contests.
Regular-season victories combined by Marc Trestman, John Fox and Matt Nagy over the last nine seasons. New coach Matt Eberflus replaced Nagy in January and will coach his first game Sunday.
The length in yards of Deebo Samuel’s longest reception in 2021 for the 49ers. That catch came on third-and-20 against the Bears last October, a momentum-changing play in the second half that helped the 49ers rally from nine points down for a 33-22 victory. Samuel finished the season with 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns and last month signed a three-year, $71.6 million extension.
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a deep ball to Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) which is intercepted late in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
Robbie Gould’s field goal percentage since being cut just before the 2016 season began. The Bears’ all-time leading scorer made 85.4% of his kicks during his 11 seasons in Chicago. He kicked for the New York Giants in 2017 and is now entering his sixth season with the 49ers. Gould has kicked against the Bears three times previously, making all nine of his field-goal attempts. That includes a 5-for-5 effort in Week 13 of 2017, including the game-winning 24-yard kick in the final seconds to lift the 49ers to a 15-14 victory.
Sacks last season by 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, a career high and second best in the NFC, behind only Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn (18.5). Bosa will match up Sunday against Jones, a fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah. That could prove to be one of the afternoon’s most interesting matchups.
Receiving yards by Darnell Mooney in his first two NFL seasons. In Bears history, only two wide receivers have had more yardage over their first two years — Harlon Hill with 1,913 yards in 1954-55 and Alshon Jeffery (1,788 in 2012-13).
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Bears rank in total offense last season with an average of 307.4 yards per game. That marked the 17th time in the last 20 seasons the team has finished outside the top 20 in total offense. The Bears also averaged 4.86 yards per play in 2021, ranking 27th in that category.
Touchdown passes thrown by Bears quarterback Erik Kramer in 1995, setting a single-season franchise record that still stands. Since Kramer’s big year, only one Bears quarterback has topped 25 touchdown passes in a season. Jay Cutler did it twice, with 27 in 2009 and 28 in 2014.
NFL quarterbacks who have thrown at least 30 touchdown passes in a season over the last 10 seasons, including 17 who have done it more than once. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees have thrown at least 30 TD passes six times in the last 10 seasons.
Touchdown passes by Fields in his rookie year. Fields made 10 starts and played in 12 games last season, but he had only one game in which he threw multiple TD passes (a 45-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 14).