Justin Fields does enough for Bears to beat 49ers 19-10, but it’ll take more to keep winning

Some games show exactly where a team stands and where it’s headed.

Others are simply a mess.

The Bears splashed and sloshed to a 19-10 season-opening win over the 49ers on the watery grass at Soldier Field. The game was as sloppy and gray as the weather, making it impossible to draw big-picture conclusions about quarterback Justin Fields, the reconfigured defense or the rebuilding Bears’ trajectory.

By the end, there was standing water all over the field and the yard lines were runny and warped. It looked more like a Van Gogh painting than an actual field as the Bears ran down the clock and turned the end zone into a Slip ‘n Slide.

“That was awesome,” Fields said. “That was a snapshot moment, for sure.”

It certainly was an epic celebration, but what the Bears celebrated was more of an escape than a triumph — especially for the offense. They survived the weather and outscored the 49ers 19-0 over the last quarter and a half to win.

They’ll always take it, but regularly replicating that will be tough.

They got their first touchdown on a broken play in which the 49ers’ secondary raced to stop Fields from running and left Dante Pettis open for 51 yards. Fields went left, stopped before the line of scrimmage and threw a pop-up back to Pettis all alone on the opposite side.

The next came on an 84-yard drive in which the 49ers gave them 20 yards and two first downs by committing third-down penalties. Fields wrapped the drive with a flawless lob to Equanimeous St. Brown on a beautifully designed play in the red zone for an 18-yard touchdown to go up 13-10.

The Bears closed it out when safety Eddie Jackson intercepted Trey Lance near midfield and brought it back to the 49ers’ 21-yard line. Five run plays later, Khalil Herbert was in the end zone for a 19-10 lead with seven minutes left.

Fields completed 8 of 17 passes for 121 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for an 85.7 passer rating, plus he ran 11 times for 28 yards.

Nobody could spin that into sounding like a great game, and he’ll need to play much better to have a chance against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field next week. It was good enough Sunday, but typically it won’t be.

However, it’s reasonable to account for the circumstances that hampered Fields.

It was his debut in the new offense under coordinator Luke Getsy, and it might take time before everything clicks. His offensive line faltered across the board. And few quarterbacks play to their peak in a downpour.

“Some throws you have full control, and then some throws, [it’s] so wet that you don’t have as much grip,” he said. “It just differs every play.”

His first pass was a short one to running back David Montgomery, which got away fromandfluttered over Montgomery’s head toward two defenders.

Fields started the game barehanded, then switched to wearing gloves. Neither was ideal.

On a throw midway through the third quarter, he tried to hit St. Brown on the right sideline, but threw short and inside, allowing 49ers safety Tashaun Gipson to step in front of it. Gipson might’ve had a pick-six if he hadn’t dropped it.

Were those near-interceptions alarmingly inaccurate passes, or merely byproducts of the deluge? With Fields’ minimal track record, it’s difficult to discern.

“It was rough sledding in the first half,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “We were trying to find our way.”

One highly problematic play was his first-quarter interception over the middle. Fields needs to rise above imperfect circumstances rather than compound the offense’s deficiencies with errors.

He was looking for Darnell Mooney on third-and-seven and didn’t seem to see 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga drifting toward the eventual path of his pass. He also admitted he bypassed open tight end Cole Kmet in the flats.

Fields caught a break on that interception when cornerback Jaylon Johnson ended the 49ers’ ensuing drive by punching a fumble out of the hands of 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel.

Several things went Fields’ way, and that’s how the Bears flipped the game in the second half. The takeaways were vital.But they won’t always be there, and a big part of what he needs to prove this season is that he can sustain drives.

The Bears didn’t get farther downfield than their own 35-yard line until shortly before halftime, and stalling that long against someone like Rodgers could bury them. They’ve seen it before.

The offense produced just 204 yards, less than it had in all but one game under Matt Nagy last season. Of the Bears’ six longest plays of the game, there was Pettis’ touchdown against blown coverage and two scrambles by Fields aided by 15-yard penalties. And the running game averaged 2.7 yards per carry.

This is only sufficient offensively if there’s a lot of help, and that’s not a sustainable formula. Fields was good enough, but what they really need is for him to be flat-out good.

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