CHICAGO – Jaquan Brisker knew Eddie Jackson was going to pick off the pass.
The Bears defenders watched the San Francisco 49ers line up in a formation they had seen often on film. The safeties, Brisker and Jackson, both knew what was coming on a key third down early in the fourth quarter.
Brisker couldn’t help but give the side eyes toward Jackson.
“He sees different things,” Brisker said after the game in the Bears’ locker room. “Once that play was called, I kind of was peeking.”
Brisker gave a sideways glance to his right.
Jackson said the Bears new that when the 49ers stacked their receivers in that manner, they often gave themselves two options – the tight end across the middle, then a receiver trailing behind.
“So we saw the tight end go and then we just played their eyes,” Jackson said.
The tight end cut inside, leaving a hole along the left hash marks. 49ers receiver Jauan Jennings followed the tight end and cut inside into that void. But San Francisco quarterback Trey Lance didn’t see Jackson flying in from the back side.
Jackson said he and Brisker showed a Cover 2 look initially, but then Jackson made a break on the route. He caught the ball for a diving interception. It was turning point in what would eventually be a Bears victory, 19-10, to open the season at Soldier Field.
The interception came with the Bears leading by three points. Jackson gave the offense the ball in 49ers territory. It led to a touchdown from running back Khalil Herbert.
It was those two safeties, Brisker and Jackson, who sparked the Bears with two turnovers in the game. Jackson had his fourth-quarter interception and Brisker recovered a fumble early in the game when the 49ers were threatening to take an early lead.
That’s exactly what general manager Ryan Poles envisioned when he drafted Brisker with the 48th overall pick. The hope is that the Bears have one of the best safety duos in the game. Head coach Matt Eberflus said he gave Jackson a big hug after the interception. Jackson is one of the few veterans that the Bears’ new regime has kept around.
Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler, hadn’t had an interception since Week 17 of 2019. He had two that season, and six the year before when he was an All-Pro. This was his 11th career interception.
It’s pretty wild that it took two years to get that 11th one.
“In practice though, he’s been flying around getting picks,” Brisker said. “He’s a great player. The defense we’re running, he’s going to get a pick. He’s going to get turnovers. He’s just gonna keep going and doing what he does.”
After the interception, the defense locked down the 49ers during the final nine minutes of the game. They were aided by wet, soggy conditions as the rain picked up again.
Jackson said he had never played in a game quite like that one. By the end of the fourth quarter, the field had turned into one big puddle. It worked to the defense’s advantage because Lance couldn’t air it out much.
“It kind of did because there’s not too much they can really do, especially at quarterback,” Jackson said. “They can’t throw the ball too deep.”