After missing all three preseason games with a quad injury, receiver Byron Pringle made his Bears debut against the 49ers Sunday, playing alongside quarterback Justin Fields for the first time.
Pringle, who signed with the Bears in the spring, came from Kansas City where he caught passes from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for four years. While Pringle knew a little bit about Fields' abilities before coming to Chicago, the fifth-year receiver was impressed with how his quarterback handled the moment.
"I love his composure throughout the game, from the first to the fourth," Pringle said. "He knew it was four quarters we have to play, not just one half. I like how he handled himself, kind of like the guy where I left from, Pat Mahomes. He's always calm and being able to progress and keep the offense rolling, not just giving up on the guys because something bad happened early in the game."
The Bears fell behind 10-0 in the third quarter as the offense totaled just 68 yards of offense in the first half, only recording five first downs.
But behind two second-half touchdown throws from Fields, the Bears rallied back for the season-opening win. Pringle helped fuel the second touchdown drive, catching a 22-yard pass from Fields to open the series.
"That's just being a pro, that's being a vet," Pringle said. "That's a big leap especially for a second-year player just because I know you've probably seen other players pout, like, get down and probably blame, [pointing] fingers behind closed doors. But he just kept his composure and was able to lead the offense and orchestrate it the correct way."
Offensive line rotation: The starting offensive line on Sunday was the same unit that played with the first-team offense in the final two preseason games. That lineup included Teven Jenkins at right guard, making his third career start in the season opener.
But after center/guard Lucas Patrick returned to practice last week following a hand injury, the Bears found a way to work the veteran into the game. Patrick joined the offensive line at right guard on the third drive of the game, then rotated with Jenkins the rest of the way.
Jenkins played 31 snaps on Sunday while Patrick was in for 27 plays. Coach Matt Eberflus was pleased with the outcome of the rotation.
"I thought they both played well," Eberflus said. "I thought they both did a nice job, and they were finishing their blocks. I thought their pass pro was good. I thought their effort in finishing plays was good. I thought they both had a solid performance at that right guard spot."
Herbert shines in opener: Second-year running back Khalil Herbert recorded the lone rushing touchdown against the 49ers to give the Bears a 19-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The score was Herbert's third career TD.
While Herbert entered Sunday's game as a reserve, he led the Bears' rushing attack with 45 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
Herbert gained plenty of NFL experience as a rookie in 2021, stepping in when running backs David Montgomery and Damien Williams were out with injuries. Herbert played in all 17 games with two starts last year, recording 433 rushing yards on 103 carries and two TDs.
"I would say that he had a really good year last year," Eberflus said. "He's got experience. He's a talented runner. Some of the holes were pretty big. The line did a really good on those particular runs. The one in the red zone was really good. The one at midfield was nice. And he's got a good pad level to him. He's got a good style. The touchdown run was pretty good vision and a really good cut by him. So, he's a talented back."
Not the underdogs: Heading into Sunday's game, the 49ers were favored over the Bears.
On Friday, Eberflus expressed the importance of his team focusing on themselves rather than worrying about their opponent or any of the outside noise. So when the Bears secured the 19-10 victory on Sunday, linebacker Roquan Smithwas not surprised.
"Personally, and I think I can speak for the guys in the locker room, we didn't see it as an upset," Smith said. "We expected to go in there and win. You know, maybe you guys, the other media and everyone else said, 'hey, this and that.' But we didn't care too much about that. We knew we could beat those guys when we stepped out on the field, and I made sure I let the guys knew that as well when we brought it up."
Smith has the same mentality for the Bears' Week 2 matchup against the rival Packers. While Green Bay is favored in Sunday night's contest, the team captain doesn't care about favorites or what things look like on paper.
The linebacker is excited to go up to Lambeau Field and face off against quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who Smith calls "one of the greatest to ever play the game." From a competition standpoint, Smith loves going against players like Rodgers, but past results against the Packers' QB don't serve as extra motivation.
"[I'm] just more so focused on the future and this game here because that's all that matters," Smith said. "This game here matters more than any other game we've played against those guys because it's the next one. So that's where my mindset is, and I really don't care about the past. [We] just got to go out and stick it to them this week."
Bring your umbrella and check out the best photos from Sunday's rain-soaked victory over the 49ers at Soldier Field.