1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
PIT 6 0 7 7 20
SF 0 3 14 7 24

The San Francisco 49ers offense probably wanted to forget what happened over its first-half efforts in Week 3 against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. For when an offense turns the ball over four times in two quarters, and five times overall, that team almost always winds up on the losing end.

Yet the Niners won in Week 3 by a score of 24-20, heavily influenced by only giving up six first-half points to Pittsburgh. That's all the Steelers managed after those four first-half turnovers.

Garoppolo tossed two interceptions during the game, also fumbling a snap from center Weston Richburg within the red zone in the first half. That eliminated what could have been a point-generating drive, yet the Niners still managed to find the end zone first. Running back Jeff Wilson safely punched it in from the 1-yard line at the 9:21 mark of the third quarter, giving the 49ers what was then a 10-6 lead. He later added another at the end of the third quarter, which increased San Francisco's lead to 17-13.

Overall, Garoppolo was 23-of-32 for 277 yards, a touchdown against the interceptions, all for a passer rating of 82.4.

Yet Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, who got his first career NFL start after Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury, was mostly held in check by San Francisco's suddenly vaunted defense. Rudolph's line was 14-of-26 for 174 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and passer rating of 81.4. Running back James Conner, who figured to be a big part of the Steelers' offensive game plan, managed just 45 yards on 13 carries.

In total, the Steelers managed only 241 total yards of offense, too, which only aids the thought the 49ers defense is on the rise this season.

But 76 of those yards came within the six-minute mark of the third quarter, when Rudolph hit wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a long touchdown to put Pittsburgh back on top 13-10:


Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was beat on the route, while safety Tarvarius Moore took a horrid angle on Schuster, allowing him to get behind the secondary and into the end zone. Later on, Witherspoon exited the game with a foot injury.

Witherspoon's injury gave way to Jason Verrett seeing time at boundary cornerback, and the Steelers quickly targeted him in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver James Washington drew a 32-yard pass interference call against Verrett, while fellow Pittsburgh wideout Diontae Johnson beat Verrett badly for a 39-yard wide-open touchdown to put the Steelers back on top 20-17 with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

The 49ers nearly took the lead on their subsequent possession, only to see turnover No. 5 thwart their scoring hopes:


San Francisco's defense to the rescue again.

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead forced a ball loose from Conner on the following Steelers possession, which fellow defensive lineman DeForest Buckner recovered. And once more, the Niners defense bailed out the offense.

Just before the two-minute warning, Pittsburgh's defense actually bailed out San Francisco's offense, committing a defensive holding call on 3rd-and-11 with Garoppolo being chased all over the pocket. The call gave the 49ers a first down, while also putting Garoppolo and Co. at the Steelers' 9-yard line.

Two plays later, Garoppolo found wide receiver Dante Pettis for a go-ahead 5-yard touchdown:


And that proved to be the difference, as the Niners defense sacked Rudolph on 3rd-and-long with only a few seconds remaining in regulation, forcing an incomplete pass the next play.

San Francisco moves to 3-0, now, while the Steelers leave Levi's Stadium winless. And all after the 49ers lost five turnovers during the game.


PIT Team Stats SF
11 First Downs 26
239 Total Yards 436
160 Pass Yards 268
79 Rush Yards 168
6 (42) Penalties (Yds) 5 (71)
2 Turnovers 5
6 (40) Punts (Avg) 3 (43)
23:43 Time of Pos. 36:17

Steelers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
M. Rudolph 14/27 174 2 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
J. Conner 13 43 0 10
M. Rudolph 4 15 0 7
J. Holton 1 9 0 9
B. Snell 3 6 0 4
D. Johnson 1 6 0 6
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
J. Conner 4 14 0 5
J. Smith-Schuster 3 81 1 76
D. Johnson 3 52 1 39
J. Washington 2 14 0 8
V. McDonald 1 10 0 10
X. Grimble 1 3 0 3
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
M. Rudolph 1 0 0 0
J. Conner 1 1 0 0
M. Feiler 0 0 1 0
D. Bush 0 0 0 0
T. Watt 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
C. Boswell 2/2 46 2/2 8
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
J. Berry 6 52.3 0 60
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
J. Holton 2 21 0 21
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. Switzer 1 0 0 0
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
D. Bush 9-2 0 0 0
Te. Edmunds 7-3 0 0 0
S. Tuitt 6-1 1 0 0
J. Haden 6-0 0 0 0
J. Hargrave 5-0 0 0 0
M. Fitzpatrick 4-1 0 1 1
S. Nelson 4-0 0 0 0
M. Hilton 4-0 0 0 0
C. Heyward 3-1 0 0 0
B. Dupree 3-0 0 0 0
T. Watt 2-0 0 1 0
T. Alualu 2-0 0 0 0
M. Barron 1-0 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 23/32 277 1 2
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Mostert 12 79 0 19
M. Breida 14 68 0 10
J. Wilson 8 18 2 5
J. Garoppolo 6 3 0 2
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 6 57 0 12
D. Pettis 4 20 1 12
K. Juszczyk 3 51 0 27
D. Samuel 3 44 0 20
M. Goodwin 2 41 0 25
R. James Jr. 2 22 0 16
M. Breida 2 20 0 15
K. Bourne 1 22 0 22
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
J. Garoppolo 2 1 0 -10
R. Mostert 1 1 1 0
R. James Jr. 1 1 0 -7
D. Buckner 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 1/1 24 3/3 6
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wishnowsky 3 50 1 52
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 2 24 0 26
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 5 10 0 15
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
D. Buckner 7-1 1 0 1
K. Alexander 6-1 0 0 0
J. Tartt 3-0 0 0 0
F. Warner 3-0 0 0 0
D. Jones 3-0 0 0 0
R. Blair III 0-3 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 2-0 0 0 0
T. Moore 2-0 0 0 0
S. Thomas 2-0 0 0 0
R. Sherman 1-1 0 0 0
K. Williams 1-1 0 1 0
D. Ford 1-0 1 0 0
A. Armstead 1-0 0 0 1
N. Bosa 1-0 0 0 0
D. Greenlaw 1-0 0 0 0
S. Day 0-1 0 0 0
  • Peter Panacy
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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