LAKE FOREST – It can be hard to know what to believe from a water-logged Bears’ win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and what to simply chalk up as an anomaly.
Certainly the final nine minutes of the game, when the rain came down hard and the field flooded, are hard to read into. As Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said Monday, it’s a good thing the Bears were up by nine points and not down by nine points at that time.
But one thing stood out to Eberflus about his young quarterback in their first game together.
“Mental toughness,” Eberflus said of QB Justin Fields. “He was able to move all those things aside, figuring it out, how he was going to grip the ball better, how he was going to operate and then figure out the game as the game went on, and move the ball down the field. And that’s what, to me, is outstanding.”
Eberflus went on to say that Fields played with a “laser-like focus.” It could’ve been easy for the first-half struggles against the 49ers to derail the game. Fields completed three passes in the first half and threw an interception. The Bears had zero points at halftime.
Fields knows his teammates are looking toward him to be a leader. He’s not a rookie anymore. He wears a captain’s “C” on his chest now. If the offense struggles, Fields takes responsibility for it.
“I know my teammates are looking at me and I’m just trying to be that leader for them,” Fields said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “Just show that I’m all right and I’m going to push them to keep going and if we have a bad play, forget about that last play and move on.”
The 49ers gave the Bears opportunities in that game. On each of the Bears’ three scoring drives, the 49ers committed a penalty that resulted in an automatic first down. Even so, it still fell on the Bears’ offense to capitalize on those opportunities. The 49ers were committing penalties in the first half, too – five penalties in the first half, seven in the second – but the Bears weren’t taking advantage of it.
“We expect to do that as an offense,” Fields said. “So, we’re just glad that we executed as well as we did.”
Transactions: The Bears signed offensive lineman and Orland Park native Michael Schofield to the active roster Wednesday. In a corresponding move, lineman Alex Leatherwood is going on the non-football illness list, which means he will be out for at least four weeks.
Leatherwood is dealing with mononucleosis, according to a report from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Bears claimed Leatherwood off waivers two weeks ago when the Raiders cut him ahead of the 53-man roster deadline. He was a 2021 first-round draft pick by the Raiders, but the new coaching staff in Las Vegas soured on him.
Schofield returns to the Bears after spending all of training camp with the team. The 31-year-old veteran lineman has experience at both guard and tackle. During training camp, he spent the vast majority of his time at right guard. Schofield did not make the 53-man roster coming out of camp.
Practice report: Rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. returned to practice Wednesday. Jones has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. He was officially listed as limited on Wednesday’s practice report.
Jones missed three practices last week and sat out the season opener. He would be huge addition to the lineup if he can return this week, not only because of his receiving ability, but also because he showed in the preseason that he can be a dynamic return man.
Jones dealt with the hamstring injury throughout training camp. He did return for one preseason game, but later wound up sidelined again.
“My body feels good,” Jones said. “I’m trying to stack days one day at a time, not trying to think too far down the line but definitely working on my hamstring each and every day.”
Backup tackle Riley Reiff (shoulder) was also limited Wednesday.