Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin discusses 49ers, moving forward with Mason Rudolph

Sep 18, 2019 at 11:21 AM--

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) head coach Mike Tomlin jumped on a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday morning and discussed the upcoming matchup with the San Francisco 49ers (2-0) at Levi's Stadium.

Tomlin doesn't often disclose a whole lot of information to the media, and this conversation was no different. He was willing, however, to briefly discuss what he has seen from the 49ers this season.

"First of all, they create a great deal of negativity on defense," Tomlin said during the call. "They get turnovers and score points. That makes you a tough, tough outfit to beat.

"Then on the other side of the ball, they're running the ball extremely well, so they're not behind the chains. They're controlling situational football, and that makes you a tough unit to beat, collectively. That's pretty clear why they're undefeated at this point."

Tomlin was asked about 49ers rookie pass rusher Nick Bosa and the matchup problems he creates. The coach quickly shifted the conversation from the individual to the defensive front as a whole.

"I've got a lot of respect for [Bosa] as a rusher, and I've got a lot of respect for them as rushers," Tomlin responded. "Not only the talented individuals within the group, but how they work collectively together; Dee Ford, and everyone else."

Tomlin didn't want to focus on any individual during the conversation and, instead, simply shared how much respect he has for the defensive line as a group while noting the great rotation of players who make up the unit.

The Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season. The quarterback injured his elbow during Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks. That leaves backup Mason Rudolph set to start at quarterback against the 49ers and for the remainder of the season.

"From a mental preparation standpoint, I think one of the reasons we have a great deal of comfort (in Rudolph), and he has a great deal of comfort, is because he's always approached each day as if he's the starter, and has brought that level of urgency to his preparation," Tomlin said.

An NFL team's early-week work in preparing for an opponent is mostly mental. It involves reviewing what you did right and wrong in your last game and looking forward and reviewing what your next opponent brings to the field.

Being a veteran, Roethlisberger used to regularly receive Wednesdays off from practice, so the Steelers' first practice of the week won't be any different for Rudolph. The second-year quarterback, however, will see an increased workload on the other days.

"He is going to be the starter," Tomlin added. "He's not going to be preparing as if he's the starter. So to this point in the week, his preparation process has been much the same as it has been since he's been here, but it's because he's taken that professional approach in terms of how he prepares himself as a non-starter."

Tomlin also noted that the plan for newly acquired defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick would be based on his ability to absorb the information thrown at him this week.

"We are going to give him practice reps and let that be our guide as we push through the week," Tomlin said.

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