LAKE FOREST – Justin Fields is as calm, cool, and collected as they come. But don't mistake poise for a short memory.
Darnell Mooney knows Fields well. While the Bears quarterback walks softly and says the right things, he doesn't forget. Like all elite athletes, Fields probably has a catalog of doubters and naysayers and is ready to start making them regret not believing in him.
If you ask Mooney, that starts Week 1 when the San Francisco 49ers, who chose Trey Lance over Fields with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, come to Soldier Field.
"I know he's a dog," Mooney said Monday of Fields. "I know he does things after practice, during practice and in the off-season. There's things that he's shown. I've seen exactly what he can do. He's going to shine for sure. He's going to blossom. He's going to prove everything that everybody doubted him on – especially Week 1. That team passed on him. So, they're going to have to pay a little bit for that."
Mooney was sure to note that he hasn't talked to Fields about the date with the 49ers. But the Bears' star receiver is pretty confident in Fields' approach to a game against a team that deemed him not good enough.
"I haven't talked to him about it, but he knows for sure," Mooney said. "I'm pretty sure that he has that thought in his mindset."
Fields has gone on the record saying Week 1 is just another game despite it being Lance's first start as QB1 of the 49ers. The North Dakota State product made two spot starts last season in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but the 49ers gave him the reigns this offseason.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan famously started drawing up plays for Lance on his iPad on the way home from Fields' pro day at Ohio State. Plays that he still has in his repertoire if needed.
"All my notes are on an iPad, so they never go away, so I go back to them all the time," Shanahan said. "I don't remember exactly what it was, but it's just plays that you do. And, 'Hey, look, you can do this play in pistol,' and then look at the run you could do with it if they did this. And now, if they stopped the run here, look at the play-action we could do with it.
"And it's not like, 'Hey, we're just saving that play for day one.' It's, 'We're saving that play when they stop that play.' What are they not accounting for? And that's just different elements that you can look into."
Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, many believed Fields' elite arm talent and rare athleticism were perfect for elevating the 49ers' offense through the ceiling it reached with Garoppolo.
But Shanahan ended up passing on Fields and taking the boom-bust prospect in Lance. Fields slipped to the 11th pick before the Bears traded up to secure him as their next franchise quarterback.
Fields faced the 49ers last season and delivered the signature play of an up-and-down rookie campaign.
Now, he and the Bears will face the quarterback Shanahan picked over Fields to open the 2021 season.
Fields won't say that he has extra motivation facing Lance and the 49ers in Week 1.
He doesn't have to. Mooney did it for him.