If you were a Steelers fan in the 1980’s and early ’90’s then you hated the San Francisco 49ers. If you didn’t, you should have. They were the team that took our place on the mantle of “teams of the decade” and they also led us in Super Bowl titles 5-4 until our victories in Super Bowls XL and XLIII.
It wasn’t personal, it’s just that we were the first team to win four Super Bowls and we didn’t like seeing anyone reach that. Still today, the 49ers are one of my least favorite teams and they will be again this Sunday.
What: San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1), the 49ers opened their season with a convincing win over Minnesota while the Steelers dropped a 28-21 loss in New England.
Line: Steelers -6.5
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday, September 20th, 2015 1pm ET
TV: FOX Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Rabble TV: I’ll be calling the game and interacting with listeners all game long at rabble.tv.
What You Need to Know: Mike Tomlin’s career record on the road dropped to 35-30 with the loss in New England… His Career record against the Patriots is 2-4 and 1-3 on the road… Ben Roethlisberger made his 159th career start for the Steelers breaking the tie with Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw for most starts by a QB… Heath Miller has caught a pass in 105 straight games including the postseason… William Gay played in his 129th straight game which is the best among all active cornerbacks.
All-Time Series: 49ers lead 11-9 and that includes a record of 6-4 in the Steel City.
Series Highs Passing: SF Joe Montana 316 yards 1987, PIT Ben Roethlisberger 330 yards 2011… Receiving SF Terrell Owens 155 yards 2003, PIT Lynn Swann 134 1978… Rushing SF Charlie Garner 166 yards 1999, PIT Willie Parker 133 2007.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Win
Communication… We detailed just how bad the Steelers’ defensive communication was in the opener earlier in the week. The lack of it led to blown coverages which led to big plays and touchdowns. The 49ers’ offense is not the Patriots’ offense but that doesn’t mean communication isn’t important. You’ll still see a few issues but they should be significantly less than week one especially in the secondary.
Stop the Run, Force the Throw… Seems almost strange to say it but the Steelers need to return to an old principle of Dick LeBeau. Based on what the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde did last week to the Vikings, the Steelers’ defense must shut down the run early and often in an effort to force the game into the hands of Colin Kaepernick. He is obviously a top notch athlete but I” take my chances if he has to throw to beat the Steelers.
Get Out Early and Don’t Look Back… Chances are, you’ve been a Steelers’ fan long enough to know that this team under Mike Tomlin rarely puts a team away. Even with a lead, it’s still “heart attack city”for many of us until the gun sounds. The Steelers can take a huge step on Sunday by scoring touchdowns, not field goals, and getting a double-digit lead on San Francisco. As I stated above, I don’t think Kaepenick has the weapons at his disposal to bring that offense roaring back. Score, score and score some more.
Final Prediction: Steelers 27 49ers 24