The Bears traded a future first round pick to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Justin Fields as their quarterback of the future. Fields is now going into his second season in the league, which is typically when teams like to load up their roster around a promising young quarterback to try to surround him with as much talent as possible, taking advantage of his cheap rookie contract. However, instead of building up a roster that ranked 18th in overall efficiency last season, the Bears took the opposite approach, stripping this roster of expensive veterans, most notably Khalil Mack, and saving a significant amount of cap space for 2023 and beyond, currently a league leading 104 million under next year’s cap.
The teardown also didn’t net them a net first round pick, which they already lacked, having traded it to move up for Fields the previous year. The result is a roster that is one of the worst in the league, despite a promising young quarterback under center. To open the season, the Bears will host a 49ers team that is talented enough to make the playoffs, but I’m not sure the 49ers are healthy enough right now to cover this 7-point spread, even against a team like the Bears.
Already having lost a pair of offensive line starters this off-season in Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack, the 49ers will also be without Daniel Brunskill in this matchup, while their secondary will be without top cornerback Jason Verrett and top safety Jimmie Ward. Meanwhile, their top offensive player George Kittle seems to be on the wrong side of questionable after not practicing all week and would likely not be the same if he did play, while unproven quarterback Trey Lance is coming back from a finger injury and making just his 3rd career start, having yet to show he’s not a downgrade on Jimmy Garoppolo. I have the 49ers calculated as 5-point favorites, so we’re getting some line value with the Bears, although not enough to be confident betting them.
San Francisco 49ers 23 Chicago Bears 17
Pick against the spread: Chicago +7