Joniak: Amukamara Optimistic About Bears' Future

"Our stock is rising," Prince Amukamara says.

Jeff Joniak
January 31, 2020 - 3:57 pm
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MIAMI (WBBM Newsradio) -- Here are the news and notes from the Super Bowl festivities of Friday. The Chiefs and 49ers square off Sunday evening.

--- Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara dropped into Miami on Sunday and is sounded optimistic about the team's outlook for 2020. "Our stock is rising," Amukamara said. "I think to finish 8-8 was a big confidence builder for us."

--- Amukamara is entering the final year of his contract with an expected base salary of $9 million and a $10-million cap hit at one of the most important positions in football. If he was released, it would leave $1 million of dead money on the salary cap, per Spotrac.com.

--- Amukamara is always aware of the financials, and his radar is up regarding speculation that he may not be with the Bears in 2020. "You can’t look to much into it, but I mean you have to take a peek, right?" Amukamara said. "You can never have too many DBs. Teams are just doing their evaluation, and I know the business. We have needs as Bears. I get it."

--- Amukamara had a good season in 2019. He thrives in press coverage and was steady on the back end of a defense that rarely gave up big plays. His exit interview with the coaching staff went well, and Amukamara was particularly proud of his performance against the Eagles earlier in the season. He called it the best game of his career. "My tackling was great," he said. "My coverage was great. I had no passes caught on me. I was just really, really dialed in. I got a lot of praises from coaches from that game. And from the exit interviews, I got a lot of praises too."

--- Bears cornerback Kevin Toliver will enter his third season in 2020. He has speed and athleticism, and Amukamara believes the former undrafted free agent is building a resume with limited reps. "You always want to see growth from a player," Amukamara said. "I think KT is getting better. It showed in how he played (Cowboys receiver) Amari Cooper and how he played (Packers receiver) Davante Adams. I think the more film you that put against guys like that, coaches start to trust you."

--- I've thought a lot this week about SB XLI, which the Bears lost to the Colts here in Miami to end the 2006 season. It remains the most impactful broadcast of my 19 seasons as the Bears' play-by-play announcer on WBBM. I never imagined for one second that despite his greatness that entire season that Devin Hester would return the opening kick for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

--- As it unfolded, I knew Hester was gone because of the sharp cut he made that created space for the greatest return man in history to take it the distance. I remember saying, "From Riviera Beach, Florida to the biggest stage in sports, Devin Hester you are ridiculous." Hester grew up in south Florida and went to the University of Miami, so the confluence of all that personal history for him was fitting.

--- In the 100-year anniversary of the NFL, we've seen, heard and read about all the greatest players, coaches and plays in history. There's no question in my mind that Hester’s opening kickoff return is one of the greatest 100 plays and certainly one of the top plays in 53 Super Bowls. And I do believe one day that he will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

--- Longtime NFL play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan is calling his 10th Super Bowl for Westwood One Sports on Sunday. He was the voice of the Chiefs from 1985-'93. 

--- Now 50 years after the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV, will coach Andy Reid -- whom the call "Big Red" -- bring a championship back to Kansas City? Reid has accomplished about everything in his profession except winning a title. He ranks seventh in regular-season wins in history. The six men ahead of him on that list combined to win 29 championships. Reid is 4-5 with the Chiefs in the playoffs, and to win it all in the 60th anniversary season of the franchise would be memorable for Reid and Kansas City.

--- Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan attended in East Leyden High School in Franklin and was born in Oak Park. Now his son Kyle will get his chance to match the accomplishment as he leads the 49ers on Sunday. Kyle Shanahan is an outstanding play designer and play-caller, and his dedication to the running game has been a difference-making move in the playoffs. If he continues to get what he needs when he needs it from the running game, the impact could make the difference in the outcome. 

--- It was great to see former Bears coach Mike Ditka at his annual "Cigars and Stars" event in Miami on Thursday along with co-host Ron Jaworski for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. Ditka is feeling good and continues to say how blessed he has been in a life that few have lived like "Da Coach." Among the other Hall of Fame players on site were former Rams defensive lineman Jack Youngblood, former Steelers running Jerome Bettis and former Packers linebacker Dave Robinson.

--- In my journal Saturday, I will get more specific about what to look for between the Chiefs and 49ers in their Super Bowl matchup.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.