In last Sunday's loss to the 49ers, rookie Justin Fields compiled more rushing yards in a game than any other Bears quarterback in 49 years.
The first-round pick from Ohio State ran for 103 yards on 10 carries, the most by a Bears player at his position since Dec. 17, 1972 when Bobby Douglass compiled 127 yards on 14 rushes in a loss to the Raiders.
A prolific dual threat the past two seasons at Ohio State, Fields had not rushed for more than 43 yards in a game with the Bears until last Sunday at Soldier Field. So what was the difference?
"I think the thing you saw [Sunday] was the decisiveness in his running," said pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. "When he took off, he decided to go. That was a huge part of that game."
On five runs that came on designed rollouts or read-option plays, Fields gained 47 yards, including rushes of 16 and 14 yards. He was even more productive on four runs that came when he dropped back to pass and scrambled out of the pocket, amassing 56 yards. One of those plays resulted in Fields' highlight-reel 22-yard touchdown run.
The TD came on fourth-and-1 with the Bears trailing 23-16 early in the fourth quarter. The play called for Fields to throw a short pass to running back Khalil Herbert in the right flat. But with Herbert well covered, Fields broke a tackle in the pocket, reversed field and dashed around left end. He weaved past tacklers and picked up key blocks by left tackle Jason Peters and receiver Darnell Mooney en route to the end zone.
"That fourth-and-1 play that he made, credit their defense for making a good call," said coach Matt Nagy. "It wasn't there. And Justin made a play I think we'll all remember for a long, long time."
DeFilippo described Fields' touchdown scamper as "a generational-type run" saying, "It doesn't get any better than that."
Fields became just the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to rush for 100 yards, run for a touchdown and throw a TD pass in a game, joining Robert Griffin III and Marcus Mariota.
Against the 49ers, the Bears moved Fields outside the pocket more than they have in any other game this season.
"That's probably a big part of us as a staff, too, being able to adapt and figure out, 'OK, there are so many little moving parts to learning who he is as a quarterback and how he fits within this offense,'" Nagy said.
"I think [Sunday], credit our coaching staff for being able to put together opportunities for him to be able to do that, and then the players to execute it. I mean, you saw the runs. When he gets around the edge, most quarterbacks are going to get tackled. He had a few plays [Sunday] where it was him one-on-one with a D-end or an outside linebacker and they didn't have a shot and he turned it into a 15-yard scramble.
"We need to be able to allow him to get to those parts of his game. [Sunday], I thought you saw that. Whether it's a designed run or whether it's, 'Hey, on time and in rhythm, the play's not there, take off,' you saw some of those [Sunday], too. The more he can do that and the more he can balance and not put too much on his plate with the QB zone reads and stuff and we allow him to play fast, that's a win for our offense, and that's how he's going to grow."
After Fields' performance against the 49ers, future opponents no doubt will have to account for his dynamic ability to make plays with his legs.
"To me, the No. 1 impact is you can't just tee off on the O-line," DeFilippo said. "You're going to have to be disciplined in your rush lanes, which means that you just can't run up the field on this guy. He's going to get up and out on you to see the runs that we saw [Sunday]. I think it's going to slow down the pass rush a little bit. That'd be my guess. Whether it does or not, we'll see. But that would be my No. 1 take."
Roster moves: The Bears on Wednesday waived rookie linebacker Sam Kamara from the active roster and made two practice squad moves, signing linebacker Cassius Marsh and releasing running back Chris Thompson.
Kamara signed with the Bears this year as an undrafted free agent from Stony Brook. He has appeared in the last three games, playing 46 snaps on defense and 37 on special teams.
Marsh has appeared in 92 NFL games with nine starts over seven seasons with the Seahawks (2014-16), Patriots (2017), 49ers (2017-18), Cardinals (2019), Jaguars (2020), Colts (2020) and Steelers (2020).