The San Francisco 49ers offense will have its hands full this Sunday when they face the Chicago Bears league-leading defense. The Bears lead in a host of categories and are in the top five in most others. They dominate in forcing turnovers and generally make life miserable for opposing offenses.
The Bears defense could carry this unit to the Super Bowl, but they’ll still need to score some points. The defense has set the offense up well much of the season, and the Bears have seen quarterback Mitchell Trubisky make strides in his second season. The Bears can win the Super Bowl as currently constructed, but the key to putting them over the top will be Trubisky avoiding too many mistakes and effectively not taking anything off the table for the defense.
This week, the 49ers surging defense will look to force some mistakes from the young quarterback. Over the past two weeks, the 49ers defense has contained the Denver Broncos rushing attack, and kept Russell Wilson from his usual fourth quarter magic. This week, they’ll look to contain Trubisky who has emerged as a strong scrambling threat, and a decent if inconsistent passing threat.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Trubisky and the challenges he presents. He compared him to a young Russell Wilson based on his ability to get out of the pocket quickly and make plays with his legs. He emphasized the need for rush lane discipline to keep him in the pocket and forcing him to go through his progressions.
That being said, Saleh sees a more decisive quarterback in year two, but, he’s not afraid of taking shots down the field [and] the scheme allows him to locate a lot of one-on-ones so he can take advantage of those.” He thinks he’s doing a good job staying within the scheme, “moving the chains and getting points.”
I spoke with Windy City Gridiron writer Jeff Berckes earlier this week, and I was curious how Bears fans view Trubisky. He makes some huge plays, but then you get the maddening plays that come with most young quarterbacks. Jeff sees a quarterback providing something for everybody’s hot take.
I won’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of the collective Bears fan. There’s generally a lot of noise to deal with wading through opinions of any group of people, but the Bears fandom in recent years has been more volatile than I ever remember. There’s a lot of hyperbole from people that want to plant their flag in whatever hot take mess they’re spouting. I would say that personally, I’m happy with his development knowing that we were in for a bit of a project when he came out. If you want to put together a case that he’s going to be a bust, he’s put enough bad decisions and poor throws on tape that you could make your argument. If you want to make the case that he’s the next Steve Young, I think there’s enough “wow” plays and throws from his tape to put together a good argument. The reality is that he’s going to forge his own path and as long as Matt Nagy continues to be the impressive young Head Coach that he has been, I’m confident that he can develop into a good player.
Right now, I’d say that he’s an incredible athlete that is doing a lot of learning on the job. First full season as a starter with a new system and new weapons, he has been able to keep his head above water. Obviously, I’d like to see him take that next step in 2019, where he’s able to really understand the offense and break down the defense faster and become fused with Nagy as they work through the gameplan. You definitely get the sense that the Bears are able to do just enough in a lot of the games so far but that they’re really only scratching the surface. The year that Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are having down in Kansas City should be the goal of what this offense can be moving forward.