Yes, it’s long been known that things would look much different at the quarterback position this season for the San Francisco 49ers, but Jimmy Garoppolo taking on the role of an opponent’s mobile quarterback in practice still seems a bit odd.
How is Garoppolo preparing the 49ers for this week’s season opener on the road against the Chicago Bears (Sunday, 1 pm ET / 10 am PT)? 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans discussed that with reporters on Thursday afternoon, as well as a number of other topics. Also speaking with reporters Thursday was offensive line coach / run game coordinator Chris Foerster, who provided an encouraging update on offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.
We have some quotes from Ryans and Foerster on those issues in this version of 49ers Notebook, as well as some quotes from the Bears, who are preparing for a major challenge from 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. Plus, we’ll take a look at the 49ers’ uniform schedule, which was released late Thursday afternoon. Let’s get it started …
Jimmy Garoppolo will never be a threat to beat Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a foot race, but since he’s now the scout team quarterback, he’s been doing what he can to mimic Fields at practice this week, according to DeMeco Ryans.
And that includes doing some fancy footwork.
“The mobile quarterback is Jimmy G,” Ryans said with a laugh on Thursday. “Nah, Jimmy, he’s done a great job. He’s given some great looks as far as getting the ball out, moving around, scrambling. Jimmy has done an excellent job of that.”
The 49ers encountered some challenges with Fields during their 33-22 win over the Bears in 2021, particularly on the ground. Fields had 103 yards on ten carries in that game, including a highlight touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Garoppolo might have a difficult time mimicking that type of play, but he’s been doing what the 49ers have asked when it comes to preparing them for Fields.
“He’s playing the quarterback position, so whatever those plays call for, Jimmy is making it happen,” Ryans said.
Fields is coming off an up-and-down rookie year but appeared to have taken a step forward during the preseason. Keeping Fields in check will be essential for the 49ers if they want to avoid an upset against the Bears on Sunday.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Ryans said of Fields. “He got out on us last year a lot, made a lot of big-time plays, big-time runs that normal quarterbacks can’t make. So the guy’s very athletic. He can run all over the place, so as we rush and as we play our coverages, we have to be very aware of that because of the type of athlete he is, the speed that he has, he can get out on you and make you pay. So we just have to be conscious of that and be disciplined in everything that we’re doing. “
The Bosa challenge
Anyone looking for a matchup to watch when the Bears are on offense Sunday should keep an eye on whichever Bears lineman is tasked with blocking 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa.
Things could get particularly interesting with Bosa given the inexperience of the Bears’ offensive tackles. Left tackle Braxton Jones is a rookie out of FCS school Southern Utah who will be making his first NFL start, while right tackle Larry Borom is in his second season with eight starts under his belt. Jones will likely be seeing more than his share of Bosa on Sunday.
“It’s a great challenge for him,” Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Thursday. “But anytime you play someone to the caliber as Mr. Bosa presents for you, you’ve got to have a plan. Regardless of who your left or right tackle are, you’ve got to make sure you have a plan because he’s someone who can change the game and you’ve got to make sure you minimize that as much as you can. “
Getsy was quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers before joining the Bears’ staff this season under new head coach Matt Eberflus, so he knows what the Bears will be getting from Bosa on Sunday. But he’s also concerned about the other defensive linemen his line of him will be facing.
“We played him five times in three years, so obviously we have a ton of experience in what kind of player he is,” Getsy said. “Not just him but the other guys on their team too. Nick, he’s the real deal.”
Bosa lined up in multiple spots last season, but Ryans wasn’t about to let on where he’ll go against the Bears.
“We’ll see where he lines up on Sunday,” Ryans said.
An encouraging sign
The Bears won’t be the only team with inexperience on the offensive line Sunday. The 49ers will be breaking in three new starters on the interior, but fortunately there will be a lot more confidence in their tandem of tackles. Left tackle Trent Williams heads into the season regarded as the best in the NFL, while right tackle Mike McGlinchey brings plenty of experience but will be playing in his first game since last November after suffering a season-ending quad injury. It’s been a long road back for McGlinchey, but Foerster said the fifth-year tackle is in good form as the season opener approaches.
“He’s looked the best he’s looked,” Foerster said. “Knock on wood that he holds in there. He fought through the rough injury coming back in the Green Bay (preseason) game, got about eight plays in. And now he’s really done a nice job, man. These last few days, he’s looked like the Mike we’ve all hoped he would look like. It’s been encouraging. “
Facing the unknown
What can be expected from Trey Lance when he gets the start on Sunday? Answering that question is guesswork for the Bears based on his lack of experience of him as an NFL starter.
Lance made two starts as a rookie last season and has thrown some passes in preseason games, but past that, there’s not much of a sample size to study from him as an NFL quarterback. Bears linebacker Roquan Smith offered some thoughts on what he will see from Lance on Sunday.
“I definitely think there’s some unknowns,” Smith said. “That’s life too. But I definitely think there’s unknowns. There’s not a lot of tape on him besides the preseason and two games he started last year. Yeah I think it’s going to be good, but I think at the end of the day they ‘re going to try to do what he does best and Shanahan’s probably going to revert back to what he likes as well. “
Smith is also relishing the chance to knock off a 49ers team many view as a Super Bowl contender.
“Not many people are counting you in, so we love that and are going to have to wake them up,” Smith said.
The 49ers announced on Thursday which games will be seeing their standard uniforms and when they’ll be getting out the throwbacks. The 49ers will be wearing their throwback uniforms in three games, two of them in primetime. Look for their red throwback uniforms on Monday Night Football on October 3 against the Rams and Thursday Night Football on December 15 against the Seahawks, with the red throwbacks to make another appearance on October 23 against the Chiefs.
Here’s a look at the full uniform schedule.
Red standard: September 18 (vs. Seahawks), Nov. 13 (vs. Chargers), Nov. 27 (vs. Saints), December 4 (vs. Dolphins), December 11 (vs. Buccaneers), December 24 (vs. Commanders), January 7/8 (vs. Cardinals)
White standardd: September 11 (at Bears), September 25 (at Broncos), October 9 (at Panthers), October 16 (at Falcons), October 30 (at Rams), November 21 (at Cardinals), January 1 (at Raiders)
Red throwback: October 3 (vs. Rams), October 23 (vs. Chiefs)
White throwback: December 15 (at Seahawks)
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