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2022 Week 1 Game Recap: Bears 19, 49ers 10 (by Ross Jacobs + RC Notes)

Date:
September 17, 2022 11:52 PM
September 18, 2022 12:02 AM

2022 Week 1 Game Recap: Bears 19, 49ers 10 (by Ross Jacobs + RC Notes)

 

This game and the media narratives after it really pissed me off. If you didn't watch this game and you just saw the box score...don't even try to give me your analysis or opinion, it doesn't mean jack. You remember the Patriots/Bills blizzard game from last year where the Patriots threw the ball 3 times in a win? That was this game.

The conditions here were atrocious and you cannot take anything for face value from this mess. It was a literal monsoon. The players were basically playing water polo the entire game. I realize the Bears had to play in it too but my point is that the rain and sloppy field tilted this game massively in the Bears favor. It allowed the much, much worse team to have a chance because of all the mistakes that SF made.

SF started out well enough. They led 7-0 at the half while missing a few scoring chances because of a Deebo fumble and penalties. They beat themselves a bunch in the first half (a theme throughout this game) with dumb penalties. In fact, the 49'ers had 12 penalties called on them here for 99 yards compared to just 3 for 24 for the Bears, and it wasn't just the raw number, it was the nature of those penalties that mattered.

SF got called for multiple unnecessary roughness penalties after slipping on the muddy field after Fields would slide on a run. Almost every single one gave the Bears a 1st down on what should have been 4th down and extended their drives into scoring opportunities. The only TD they scored unaided was a broken pass play where Fields was nearly sacked, rolled to his left, and lofted a floating pass that found a completely wide open Dante Pettis who ran it in for a 51 yd TD.

In the second half Chicago hit the broken TD to Pettis for their first score, scored again with the help of a few receivers lost in coverage (nice play design by Chicago though) and more penalties, and a third after Eddie Jackson made a fantastic play on the ball and picked of Lance, giving Chicago a short field (that they still needed multiple penalties to turn into a TD).

By this point SF was down 9 points and the rain somehow got even heavier just when the 49ers really needed to put together a drive. You literally couldn't see the field through the cameras by the time this game was done because it was raining so hard.

I'm not kidding when I say that literally everything went the Bears way here. They needed every single penalty, every goofy broken play, every turnover to pull this off. If you played this game 100 times, even in the same conditions, the 49ers would win it 90% of the time. In normal conditions they would win 98% of the time.

I'm going to make some very definitive statements here...

1) There is not a damn thing wrong with Trey Lance and anyone that says otherwise has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. This is the best I've seen Lance look by a mile. He was composed, in control, worked his progressions, was accurate to a degree I've never seen from him (in the pouring rain no less), stepped up in the pocket like a veteran, was as elusive a runner as anyone in the league...based on this one game he's closer to being an MVP candidate than getting replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo. If you don't have Lance in 4-pt passing TD leagues, go trade for him on the cheap if the owner is scared. Never overpay obviously, but my worries about Lance have all but disappeared after what I witnessed here.

 

*RC NOTE: I concur. I watched a cut up tape of every throw/run by Lance in this game (before watching the whole game again) – and I thought pre-monsoon, just regular rain game Lance was terrific – great throwing downfield and good escapability in the pocket to throw or run. An early Josh Allen flash, only better I think (at the same stages). Then the heavens opened up and he couldn't complete a screen pass hardly, much less anything else.

The tape says: Lance is on his way to being a playmaking star. However, there is a TON of media pressure on him…so much so that every incompletion evokes the name/ghost of Jimmy G (as if he is some elite thing being held back). I honestly do not know which thing/scenario will win out – Lance’s play shines in a win/patience from Shanahan…or buckling to the media pressure if they lose this week or don't blowout win it. 

If Lance survives all this chaos – it gives him a hardened shell that young QBs that get media french kisses every time they complete a screen pass and have 17 excuses for their failures, like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, won’t ever have.

Lance could come out of this with years of education/pressure management condensed into a month or two speed on-the-job training. Or…he’ll get a quick hook because NFL teams are mostly worried about public perceptions more than having conviction. If Lynch/Shanny really fully did what is best with/for Lance…they’d never have re-signed Jimmy G. They made this situation toxic/untenable. *

 

2) The 49ers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and very likely the favorites from the NFC. They aren't without flaws but I haven't seen another NFC team so far that is as well-rounded and dangerous as them. Don't get caught up in the “lost to the Bears” narrative as a reason to downgrade them. The Bills lost 6 games last year including to the Jaguars. They came seconds from making the Super Bowl and are the best team in the league now.

3) The Bears are one of the absolute worst teams in the league if not the outright worst. They are going to die trying to force this Justin Fields thing.

 

 

Fantasy Player Notes:

 

 – As I said above about Lance...don't be afraid of him. There's no reason to. Please, if you need reassurance go watch this game. He made some “wow” throws here. One laser in particular was the best throw I've seen so far this year outside of one ridiculous Justin Herbert pass. Before conditions got insane at the end of the game and SF was trying to force passes to get back into it, Lance was 8 of 13 for 121 yards, a cool 9.3 YPA with a 61.5% comp. percentage and that was in less than ideal conditions. The low total yards here was just because they were running it heavy early on (granted something they will do a lot this year) and things got out of hand late.

I'm more encouraged than ever by Lance's passing ability. I cannot stress enough that he was accurate and making mostly good decisions here, a far cry from the inconsistency we've seen in the past. I'm not saying he's perfect or suddenly Josh Allen but he is clearly improving rapidly. Throw in the fact that he's averaging 13 rush attempts per game in his young career and he's 100% going to finish as a top 10 QB in 4-pt leagues and possibly in the top 3-5. He's going to be a threat to lead the league for the next several years.

Trey is already 10x better than Garoppolo ever was, and you're an idiot if you think SF would have won this game with Jimmy like I've seen some Niners fans claiming. That's just wishful thinking. Jimmy would have thrown 5 INTs in these conditions if Shanahan trusted him to throw it at all.

If you're looking for a player to buy low on this week it's Deebo Samuel. He got 7 targets (for only 2 catches in horrible conditions) along with 8 carries for 52 yards and a TD. His usage pattern is identical to how he finished last year. He's going to get 6-9 targets per game along with 7-10 rushes per game and he's just as effective running the ball as ever. I have no idea how or why but every time he takes a handoff he runs for 6 yards a pop. Oh and the Elijah Mitchell injury has nothing to do with it. He was in this game taking carries ahead of Mitchell to start the game. He's still the core of the offense.

 

 – Brandon Aiyuk had a low stat line here but I don't think it will stay like that. Again this was a very strange game and Aiyuk was very involved early on before things went completely south for SF. He's going to be the downfield threat just like we projected. That means he'll be getting all the deep crosses that Deebo feasted on last year but Trey is also going to take some deep shots to him outside the numbers, a pass that Jimmy can't throw in his dreams. Aiyuk may be inconsistent this year, especially when Kittle is healthy, but he is going to have some big games when he hits a few of these long TDs.

 

 – Jauan Jennings is far and away the #3 WR. He looks big and stiff, kind of like a slower Gabe Davis. He'll be a nice midrange option for Lance and catch the occasional short TD by bodying up smaller DBs.

 

 – Ok, let's talk about the SF backfield because it is once again in chaos after Mitchell got hurt (again). This is precisely why I warned against drafting Mitchell this summer. It's got nothing to do with his talent or workload in this offense. When healthy he is a top 10 option at the position. The trouble is, he clearly cannot stay healthy. In most cases you can ignore health concerns with players, but sometimes it's just obvious when a guy has such a lengthy history the way Mitchell does.

That's neither here nor there though. What do we do now? We know the SF backfield is a juicy opportunity if anyone can seize the job, but is there anyone capable of that?

If you read my article on Jordan Mason then you already know the answer.

The mainstream is jumping on the Jeff Wilson train and I expect that's who will get the majority of touches this week, but I don't think he can hold the job for long. He's a trusted veteran hand but has dealt with injury issues himself and hasn't been explosive for two years now. When he replaced Mitchell against the Bears he looked very slow and sluggish.

Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price was inactive last week which tells you exactly what Shanahan thinks of him. At his best he can be a nice option but just like with Trey Sermon last year, TDP has absolutely no feel for the position and no vision. He actually has the opposite problem of Sermon though. Sermon was indecisive and danced behind the line too much. TDP doesn't read the field at all. He just slams into the line as hard as he possibly can every play. If it's blocked perfectly he can look great but when there's traffic...you get where I'm going with this. There's a reason why Mason has already jumped him.

That leaves us with the best RB on the roster, UDFA Jordan Mason. If Mason was on most other teams I might not care. As a raw talent he's just pretty good as far as RBs go. He's not a super athletic star that can just create yards out of thin air but he is a very elusive and hard to tackle back that is adept at reading blocks and picking his way through traffic. The closest comp I can think of is Jordan Howard, a guy that doesn't overwhelm you with his physical talent but who is incredibly difficult to bring down for less than 4 yards.

The key here is this guy is 225-230 lbs of pure muscle, is very shifty for his size, and is a decisive runner that knows how to get north and south. He's very consistent and is not going to make many mistakes or get tackled for short losses, the very same qualities that propelled Mitchell over Sermon last year and Alfred Morris over the more athletic Evan Royster and Roy Helu for Washington back in 2012 when Shanahan was the OC (how's that for some throwback RB names?).

I don't know if Mason takes over this week or next week or ever. Anything can happen. But I do know he is the best option and the one that perfectly fits what Shanahan wants to do on offense. He's going to get a shot sooner rather than later and if he just keeps doing what he did all of training camp and the preseason then he's going to be the starter for this team very quickly and that means getting 15-20 carries a game as a full-time lead RB. If you haven't picked him up off waivers already, do so now before word gets out on him.

 

*RC NOTE: I think ‘the word’ will be in high gear Sunday morning…he’ll be the world’s least kept ‘big secret’ all Sunday pre-game. Sunday is going to be a mini-Jordan Mason mania with everyone trying to look smart like they discovered him first.

You’re lucky you knew to get ahead of it on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday or in August in deeper roster Dynasty leagues.*

 

 – For the Bears I'm not sure what to tell you. You shouldn't own anybody on this team, not even Darnell Mooney. I love his talent but he's doomed playing with Fields. I'll give him a pass for this week with the conditions the way they were and against a tough SF defense no less, but all the volume in the world isn't going to save him from being dragged down by terrible QB play.

None of the other WRs matter obviously. Pettis caught a fluky TD on a broken play and ditto Equanimeous St Brown. He simply got lost in coverage on a well-designed play. There was no plan to get either of them the ball and they won't see near enough volume to matter. There's no story here.

 

 – Cole Kmet is still a slug. I'm sure he'll get ok numbers moving forward simply because Fields will force it to him for short catches but I want no part of this mess. There are just better options elsewhere.

 

 – There was some concern from David Montgomery owners when Khalil Herbert was in for a short TD run, but there's nothing to worry about there. The Bears ran a very obvious rotation of 2 series for Montgomery and then 1 for Herbert. It was that way the entire game. Herbert just happened to be in on the drive where they got down to inside the 5 yard line. Montgomery is still the 65% lead here.

Herbert himself looks fine enough. He's a solid-hand NFL back, good at everything, master of none, much like Montgomery himself. He's no threat to suddenly take over for Montgomery or force a bigger split. What should concern you about Montgomery is simply that he's not a very talented back, he's not going to get many scoring opportunities on this shitty offense, and he doesn't even work super well for PPR because Fields can barely throw a screen pass without it nearly getting intercepted.

 

 – And if you haven't gotten the picture already, Justin Fields isn't going to work. He's got some skills and obviously the physical traits. I'm not saying he's completely untalented. But he's working with a bad offensive line, no receivers, and a defensive minded head coach. There's simply too much working against him for this to end well. Maybe with better conditions he could have been something but by the time he lands somewhere else in 4 years it'll be too late to fix him. I'm sure he'll have a nice game or two this year when he gets a couple of lucky bomb throws or scrambles for 100 yards while running for his life, but good luck guessing when.

 

IDP Notes:

 

 – 2nd year safety Talanoa Hufanga racked up 11 tackles (10 in the first half alone), 2 TFLs, and 1 pd here. He was flying around, constantly near the ball. Looks absolutely fantastic. He was a guy that I talked about a lot early last year as someone that was popping in the preseason. He worked his way into a starting job and looks like a real threat to be a top 10 scorer as a DB this year. Awesome debut.

 

 – Bears rookie defensive end Dominique Robinson is someone I completely overlooked in the draft. No longer. He was a WR to DE convert at Miami and this is only his 3rd year playing the position. He's very raw but an incredible athlete at 6'5”/255 with a 41” vert and 4.7 speed. He's still very raw and inconsistent but is already showing flashes of elite ability. He had 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his very first game while whipping Mike McGlinchey's butt all night. Amazing find by the Bears. He has Pro Bowl potential if he can keep getting better.

 

 

Snap Counts of Interest:

 

67 = Aiyuk

56 = Deebo

41 = Jennings

 

40 = Wilson

17 = Mitchell

0 = Mason (this doesn't necessarily mean anything going forward, don't be fooled)

 

52 = Mooney

44 = St Brown

23 = Pettis

 

38 = Montgomery

17 = Herbert

 

48 = Kmet

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>