Week one is finally here! Everything you need to know for the season opener between the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers is here!
What: San Francisco 49ers 0-0 at Pittsburgh Steelers 0-0
Where: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pmET Sunday September 9th, 2023
Weather: 71 degrees with showers at kickoff.
Wagering Information: Steelers +2 O/U 41.5
Last Week: This is the opening week for both teams.
TV: FOX Joe Davis (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analysis), Pam Oliver (field reporter)
TV Coverage in Your Area: Most of the country should get this one. 506sports.com
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Craig Wolfley (analysis), Missi Matthews (sideline),
Max Starks (sideline)
Compass Radio: Chris Carrino (play-by-play), Brian Baldinger (analysis)
Head Official: Alex Kemp. In his 6th season as a Head Official, Kemp is a graduate of Central Michigan University. He is currently an insurance agent. He has not officiated a Steelers’ game since December of 2020 when the Steelers beat the Colts 28-24. 14 penalties were accepted in that contest.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: DT Larry Ogunjobi (Foot) – Questionable SF: TE George Kittle (Groin) – Questionable, CB Charvarius Ward (Heel) – Questionable
Injury Notes: I fear this is going to be an issue all year for Ogunjobi. I believe that he plays but this bears watching all season.
2022 NFL Final Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 26th SF 6th Passing Offense: PIT 24th SF 13th Rushing Offense: PIT 16th SF 7th
Total Defense: PIT 10th SF 1st Passing Defense: PIT 20th SF 21st Rushing Defense: PIT 9th SF 2nd
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 0-0, Baltimore 0-0, Pittsburgh 0-0, Cleveland 0-0
This Week in the AFC North: Houston at Baltimore 1pm, Cincinnati at Cleveland 1pm
What You Need to Know: The Steelers are 47-38-5 all-time in season opening games… At home they are 31-18-3… The Steelers and 49ers have met four times previously on the opening weekend with each team winning twice… No one has more conference title game appearances than the 49ers (18) and the Steelers (16)… San Fran and Pittsburgh have met eight times in the month of September with each team winning four… Ryan Shazier had 15 tackles in the team’s 2015 win over the 49ers… Mike Tomlin is 2-2 all-time against the Niners while Kyle Shanahan is 1-0 versus the Steelers.
San Francisco 49ers Names to Know: QB Brock Purdy, QB Sam Darnold, RB Christian McCaffery, DL Javon Hargrave, DE Nick Bosa, TE George Kittle, WR Deebo Samuel, LB Fred Warner, WR Brandon Aiyuk, LB Dre Greenlaw, OT Trent Williams
What’s at Stake: A good start. The Niners were once part of a truly powerful division but that’s fallen off significantly with Arizona and the Rams likely to finish at the bottom. A strong start for them isn’t as necessary as it is for the Steelers who play in the NFL’s most competitive division top to bottom.
All-Time Series: 49ers lead 12-10 and lead 6-5 in Pittsburgh.
Last Meeting: 2019 in San Francisco. 49ers 24 Steelers 20
Postseason History: N/A
Steelers Game Highs vs SF: PASSING: Ben Roethlisberger 369 yards 2015 RUSHING: Willie Parker 133 yards 2007 RECEIVING: Antonio Brown 195 yards 2015 SACKS: Stephon Tuitt (2015) and Brentson Buckner (1996) 1.5 INTERCEPTIONS: Rod Woodson 2 1993 (most recent)
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on the Steelers.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Play “Clean.” When you are playing against the number one defense in the league and a run-first offense, you must keep things clean on your side of the ball. What does “clean” mean in this case? It means limiting the mental flags. False starts, illegal formations and neutral zone infractions are examples. Taking care of the football is also part of playing ‘clean.’ The Steelers cannot afford to give San Francisco short yardage opportunities and they can’t afford to face second and third and longs either. It’s week one, so I expect so hiccups but Mike Tomlin’s team must limit them in order to have a chance in this one.
2. Kenny Time. We’ve heard it ALL offseason and ALL preseason. This is an improved Kenny Pickett. It’s his offense and he has total control of it. Well, it’s time to make these statements 100% fact and it isn’t going to be easy. Pickett is not playing the second team defenses from Tampa Bay, Buffalo or Atlanta. He’s playing the defense that finished #1 overall in the NFL last season. Can he take care of the ball? Can he make the right adjustments to his protection? Can he hit those tightly covered receivers when he has to? If this team has any chance of doing what so many people believe it will then Pickett has to deliver. It’s that simple.
3. Tackle. Yup, that’s the third and final key to this game. Why? Because the Niners have guys like Christian McCaffery and Deebo Samuel among others who run hard. But they are also elusive. Teryl Austin’s defense cannot afford to let guys catch and run. They cannot afford to let guys break contain and they cannot miss tackles inside the tackle box. Yards will likely be at a premium in this game and missing tackles can mean the difference between a third down and eight and a third down and two. Those are drastically different situations. Trust me, if one of the things we’re talking about on Monday is missed tackles then I guarantee it will also come with a loss.
Prediction: There is a reason the preseason is not the regular season and I alluded to it above. The 49ers will present a much different animal than what the Steelers saw in August. Things will be faster on both offense and defense and with Nick Bosa trending towards playing, the task seems even more daunting. I agree that this Steelers’ team feels different. There’s a confidence about them that is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, I don’t see it being enough. I think the play-action passing will cause problems and the defense will do just enough to stymie the Steelers’ offensive line which may still be coming together.
49ers 16 Steelers 13
Season Record: 0-0