Despite quarterbacking the Chicago Bears in a losing effort against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8, first-round pick Justin Fields enjoyed the most impressive performance of his young career in a game that felt very much like his arrival in 2021.
Fields completed 19-of-27 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown while adding 103 rushing yards and a ridiculous rushing touchdown as well. He did throw an interception on a desperation pass late in the game, but he was otherwise efficient and in command of the Bears’ offense throughout the entire contest.
The loss drops the Bears to 3-5 on the season and it’s pretty clear this team isn’t complete enough to make a legitimate challenge for a playoff berth, but Fields’ performance against the 49ers is, arguably, a bigger development than the outcome.
Prior to Sunday’s effort, Fields tossed two touchdowns to six interceptions and his season was a consistent struggle to find consistency—something that wasn’t a problem for him against San Francisco. Even when he was pressured by the 49ers’ defensive front, Fields had an answer. He used his legs more in Week 8 than any of his prior outings, totaling a career-high in rushing yards as well as the longest run of his career (22 yards).
But it wasn’t just what Fields did as a runner that was so impressive. He showed he’s a top-shelf passer, too, including this touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James:
Still, it’s hard not to get excited about the playmaking ability Fields put on display with his legs on Sunday:
Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, who served as Chicago’s interim head coach while Matt Nagy is sidelined with COVID-19, summed up Fields’ performance best after the game. “He’s a special player,” he said.
The loss certainly stings for a Bears team that feels like it’s pretty close to being a legitimate wild card candidate in the NFC. The defense failed them on Sunday, allowing Jimmy Garoppolo to throw for more than 300 yards and rookie running back Elijah Mitchell to chew up 137 yards on the ground. But that’s all secondary to Fields’ performance, which was so good that it provides optimism in a season that’s otherwise been a big letdown.
“He's elite,” Akiem Hicks said of Fields after the game. “It's fun to watch. He made some elite throws. I enjoy watching him play."