Bears general manager Ryan Pace spoke to play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM prior to Sunday's game against the 49ers. The following is a transcript of that interview.
On winning the NFC North:
"I think one of our first goals when you start the season is to win the division because really that guarantees you a spot in the playoffs, but that being said, now that we're in this position, it's really about taking advantage of the opportunity that's here now. It's a credit to our players. It's a credit to our coaches and all the hard work they put in. But we've really moved on, and we're focused on San Francisco, and we're ready to get this thing rolling."
On pace of progress as a team:
"First off, we were able to do a lot of things in the offseason that really set this up, and I think it started with hiring [Bears coach Matt Nagy] and the culture that he's instilled. But we've got the right people in the right spots, and the players and staff, and we feel good about where we're at, but the goal the whole time is to to create something that's sustainable, that's our goal."
On where acquisition of linebacker Khalil Mack ranks in his career:
"I don't really think of things that way. I think obviously you're proud for the franchise, significant for the franchise. I think again it's a credit to a lot of people that we were able to work that out. I've said it before, he's an impact player at an impact position, and I just feel real fortunate that we have him."
On where Bears could improve:
"I think we go back to what Matt said, no one's satisfied. That's kind of the mood throughout the building. You know, we've set ourselves up for a great opportunity, and again it's just about maximizing it. It's a credit to everyone in the building and everyone's happy for what we've accomplished, but we're not there yet. No one's satisfied at this point."
On five Bears being selected to the Pro Bowl:
"I think it's a credit to a lot of things. First of all, it's obviously a credit to those players and the work they put it in and the dedication they put in. It's a credit to our coaches and the development of these players. That's a huge part of it, and lastly you know, we had all our scouts in last week for the game, and I'm just proud of our personnel department, and the evaluations that take place behind the scenes, as you know those guys are on the road grinding all year long, and that's really when it's happening. But what's encouraging about it is when you look at the Pro Bowlers and even the alternates is the youth. They're all young, and so we expect them to continue to get better as we go forward, and that's exciting for them."
On status of guard Kyle Long:
"He started practicing on Friday and really that started his 21-day practice window that we're in. So, we're going to take it day-by-day. His first game eligible back is the Vikings game, Week 17. And we'll just take it day-by-day. This is a good step to get him out there on Friday with his teammates."
On playoff status of safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Aaron Lynch:
"At this point, again, we're still taking it day-by-day. Eddie has tweaked his ankle and we're going to be smart with it, like you've seen us be with all these injuries this year and same thing with Aaron Lynch. Both these guys are playing really well, so it's just being smart as a franchise to have them in the right spot as we go forward."
"They just beat a very talented Seattle team, they play well at home, and really despite their record they're playing good football right now. When you turn on the tape you see that. I think it's a credit to their culture. Both [49ers coach] Kyle Shanahan and [49ers general manager] John Lynch have done a great job just with the overall direction of that franchise."
On 49ers tight end George Kittle:
"This was a great draft pick by them when you look at it. So a Pro Bowler they acquired in the fifth round, so it's a credit to their team. Highly productive tight end, he's a huge part of their offense, and really he's one of the most explosive players on their offense, so he's a difficult guy to defend."