The Pittsburgh Steelers began the 2023 season at home on Sunday afternoon, and despite all the positivity from a 3-0 preseason, they would fall flat in a 30-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco controlled this game for all sixty minutes. T.J. Watt provided the only highlights for Pittsburgh as he collected five tackles, three sacks, and recovered a fumble.
The 49ers grabbed their first touchdown with 9:34 left in the first quarter when Brock Purdy found Brandon Aiyuk in the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown. Jake Moody increased that lead to ten with a 41-yard field goal at the 4:41 mark of the first. Purdy and Aiyuk would connect for a 19-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, which would be followed by another Moody field goal to go up twenty at the 8:26 point.
The only Steelers score of the day came with just 0:13 left in the half. Kenny Pickett would throw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth. San Francisco would quickly erase those good halftime feelings when Christian McCaffrey ran for a 65-yard touchdown just 45 seconds into the third quarter. Moody would boot a 40-yard field goal with 5:34 left in the game to close out the scoring.
Surprisingly, Pickett would throw for more yards, 232, than Purdy, 220. Purdy did defeat Pickett in touchdowns 2-1, and interceptions 0-2. Pittsburgh had no run game as Najee Harris would have just 31 yards on six carries, while Jaylen Warren scampered for 6 yards on three carries. McCaffrey torched the Steelers defense for 152 yards on 22 carries. Aiyuk diced through the Pittsburgh secondary with 129 yards on eight receptions. New Steeler Allen Robinson led the team with five receptions for 64 yards.
Again, aside from Watt there really was not anything that Pittsburgh did that gives you any confidence moving forward. Injuries to Diontae Johnson (hamstring) and Cameron Heyward (groin) did not help. It would also be nice if George Pickens and Freiermuth could become a bigger part of the offense to possibly open the run game.
The Steelers will be home again in Week 2 when they play host to the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. Cleveland will be riding high after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 24-3. Pittsburgh can not afford to fall into an 0-2 hole to open the season. They will need to get back to work asap and improve quickly before they take the stage in front of a national audience.
Overall Record: 0-1