What do the Bears need to do to catch the 49ers in 2020?

The Ringer’s Robert Mays recently chatted with NBC Sports Chicago’s Laurence Holmes on the Under Center Podcast and offered some excellent insight on the status of Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. He suggested it would be a bigger mistake for GM Ryan Pace to hold onto Trubisky and not admit his mistake than it was to draft him in the first place.

Assuming we ignore the fact that Pace picked Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, Mays’ point is spot on. The Bears won’t be able to compete with the NFL’s upper-class if they don’t field a quarterback who’s capable of putting up enough points to take advantage of their potentially dominant defense. 

Take the 49ers as the template. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t an All-Pro, but he’s perfect for what San Francisco asks him to do. Fueled by a ferocious defense, strong running game and enough playmakers at the skill positions, the 49ers ask Garoppolo to simply be good enough. Get the ball to the right player at the right time in the right moment to not only manage games but sometimes win them too. He’s done a great job at it and is a big reason why they’re playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Trubisky hasn’t done anything through his first three seasons to suggest he can become a Garoppolo-type. In fact, if the Bears want to eventually become an NFC contender like San Francisco, they may have to first make a change at quarterback. 

According to NFL.com, that’s exactly what should happen:

General manager Ryan Pace committed to Trubisky as the team’s unquestioned starter on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps some distance from an emotional season and the fresh possibilities of this crop of free-agent and rookie quarterbacks could move Pace off the commitment. Coaches and general managers waste more seasons and lose more jobs by doubling down on bad decisions than by making bad decisions in the first place. This Bears roster has a sneaky amount of talent on both sides of the ball, although Chicago’s outstanding defense has already started to decline. The Bears could win right now with the right trade or reboot at the quarterback position. Closing their eyes to those possibilities is the sports equivalent of the cover-up being greater than the crime.

Trubisky will be on the Bears roster in 2020. There’s no reason for Pace to cut ties with him; there’d be no salary-cap relief and, at the very least, he’d be a solid backup. But before Trubisky can be a backup, Chicago has to add a quarterback with starter’s potential. They’ll use free agency as part of that plan and could target a player like Teddy Bridgewater to be that guy. Bridgewater is likely to command more than $20 million per season, and if Pace inks him to a deal like that, Trubisky’s tenure as a starter is over.

The 2020 NFL Draft is another avenue the Bears can consider to find a potential starter-of-the-future. Even without a first-round pick, Pace has enough ammunition (two second-rounders) to trade back into the first round if a quarterback they covet slides into the back-half of the round.

Bears fans certainly couldn’t have imagined, four years after Trubisky was picked, that Chicago would be knee-deep in another quarterback controversy. But they are, and it’s Pace’s responsibility to make sure he gets it right this offseason. Otherwise, there will be more changes than just quarterback a year from now.

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What do the Bears need to do to catch the 49ers in 2020? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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