LAKE FOREST – One of the many storylines of the Bears’ 2022 season opener has to do with the match-up of the quarterbacks, who will be forever linked thanks to April 29, 2021.
That’s the day that both Trey Lance and Justin Fields were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, the former by the 49ers with the third overall pick and the latter by the Bears at pick 11.
For the first time, the pair will match up as starters on Sunday when their teams meet in Week 1 at Soldier Field at Noon. One of the potential narratives spun off of that is the fact that Lance was picked eight selections higher than Fields, which could provide the Chicago quarterback a little motivation.
At least receiver Darnell Mooney felt so when he spoke to the media on August 29th.
“He’s gonna shine for sure. He’s gonna blossom. He’s gonna prove everything that everybody doubted him on, especially Week 1. That team passed on him. They’re going to have to pay a little bit for that,” said Mooney when talking about Fields’ and his optimism for the quarterback in 2022.
Did Fields agree with that?
“No, not really,” said Fields on Wednesday when asked about Mooney’s comment, which he said he’d not heard before the news conference.
For Fields, it’s the exact opposite, for the 49ers decision to not select him allowed him to take the reigns with the Bears in Chicago.
“I don’t take anything personal. I’m glad to be here, so I’m glad that they passed on me. I’m just ready to play this weekend,” said Fields.
So did the quarterback appreciate those comments from his receiver, or was it Mooney just showing off his personality?
“That’s just Darnell being Darnell,” said Fields with a smile on his face after being asked that question.
Indeed the past should be far from the second-year quarterback’s mind as he gets ready to take over the Bears’ offense right from the start this season. In 2021, he served as the back-up to Andy Dalton in the opener against the Rams before eventually supplanting him in that role in early October.
After a season of growing pains, Fields now takes the reigns of Luke Getsy’s offense in hopes of unlocking the potential he showed during a successful career at Ohio State.
Plus, he’s already faced the 49ers before, having played them on Halloween of last year at Soldier Field, with his 22-yard fourth quarter touchdown run being one of the highlights of his rookie season. In that start, it was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that led San Francisco to a 33-22 victory.
Hence it’s easy for Fields to put the past in the past.
“The draft is the draft. The draft doesn’t matter at this point. You could take Mooney for example. Shoot, he got passed by 32 teams,” said Fields. “So it’s like you’re in the league now, do your job now, boom, execute at a high level. It is what it is, but at this point, it’s Week 1 and we’re here to play ball.
“We’re not worried about last year’s draft or this team passed on me. I’m not thinking about that. It’s not going through my head.”