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Three quick takeaways from 49ers’ 30-7 win over Steelers

Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 10, 2023 at 2:25 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers easily steamrolled the Pittsburgh Steelers to the tune of 30-7 on the road, starting off their season with a win at Acrisure Stadium.

San Francisco started off hot, forcing five straight three-and-outs to begin the game, while scoring on each of their first four drives, leading to an early 20-0 discrepancy in favor of the 49ers.

Here are three quick takeaways from San Francisco's 30-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hot start

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has been heavily criticized in the past for his conservativeness, which has led to some slow starts for the 49ers, both in games and throughout the season.

That clearly wasn't the case on Sunday, as Shanahan was firing on all cylinders, even going for a 4th & 1 on San Francisco's first drive near midfield, instilling trust in quarterback Brock Purdy and the offense.

Shanahan's playcalling was pristine early; the head coach operated the quick game with perfection, leading to several chunk plays in the intermediate range of the field, while Brock Purdy looked comfortable and made the correct reads to find open receivers.

The 49ers also showed they were willing to be more aggressive, passing more early on to set up the run before creating a strong balance that led to 152 rushing yards for Christian McCaffrey on the day.

Defensively, the 49ers played very well, with the pass rush leading the way, as Drake Jackson benefitted with two early sacks. Overall, the 49ers came into the game way more mentally prepared, and the coaching staff deserve their props for making that happen.

Defensive Line

The 49ers picked up five sacks on the day, as Drake Jackson had three, while Javon Hargrave and Kerry Hyder each had one a piece.

But, the 49ers' defensive line impact went much further than the box score; Hargrave compiled with Arik Armstead to form a stout duo on the interior, and each made their presence known on Sunday.

The 49ers sacrificed depth in 2023 to allocate resources to Javon Hargrave, and their strong defensive line created opportunities for each other, hence Jackson's three sacks on the day.

If the coverage can't consistently hold up, the 49ers now know they've got a legitimate starting defensive line with three very good options and a fourth who can maximize his opportunities.

Additionally, I thought Clelin Ferrell played well when on the field in base downs, creating a solid rotation between him and Jackson at defensive end.


Special teams have been an issue for the 49ers in the past. So much so that the 49ers spent money to retain punter Mitch Wishnowsky, while bringing in linebacker Oren Burks, receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, and safety George Odum.

While the kickoff unit left much to be desired, it was a good day for kicker Jake Moody and Wishnowsky, who each had their moments in the 30-7 win.

Moody made all three of his field goals, hitting from 41, 32, and 40 yards, while kicking in three extra points as well.

Moody faced interesting circumstances on his first-ever field goal, as he was iced by head coach Mike Tomlin before his attempt was blocked, although the Steelers jumped, allowing the kicker to have another opportunity, which he drilled.

Moody's day was exactly what Kyle Shanahan wanted. There weren't any crazy opportunities, instead; Moody saw easier opportunities and got a chance to develop some rhythm.

Wishnowsky, on the other hand, got all three of his punts inside the 20-yard line, as the 49ers downed the three at the Pittsburgh five, six, and four-yard line.

If the 49ers can get this consistency from their two specialists, those questions around the position will evaporate, and the 49ers could see marked improvements with their special-teams unit.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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