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PFF’s highest- and lowest-graded 49ers players vs. Steelers, plus snap counts

Sep 11, 2023 at 9:35 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers start their season with a 1-0 record after a 30-7 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today, Pro Football Focus released its grades from the game. Which Niners played well, and who has more work to do?

Below are Pro Football Focus' five highest-graded 49ers players on offense against the Steelers.

Below are the five highest-graded 49ers players on defense.

Below are the three lowest-graded 49ers players on offense.

Below are the three lowest-graded 49ers players on defense.

Quick Takeaways

Brandon Aiyuk is just one of the players who had his way against the Steelers defense. The wide receiver caught all eight of his targets for a game-leading 129 yards and two touchdowns. He ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards, behind superstars Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

Christian McCaffrey racked up a league-leading 152 rushing yards on 22 carries and found his way into the end zone for a touchdown. While many wondered if the running back might be able to record his second career season of over 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving, now, you have to wonder if he might become the ninth player all-time to surpass 2,000 rushing yards. But we won't get ahead of ourselves. There remain a lot of games to play. Still, it was an impressive outing for the veteran running back.

Then you have Brock Purdy, who "shut some haters up" in his first full-time action since suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow in last season's NFC Championship Game. Purdy was efficient, helping the 49ers jump to an early 20-0 lead. The second-year quarterback finished the game 19-of-29 for 220 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 111.3.

San Francisco's defensive line earned high marks on Sunday. The team's six highest-graded defenders were all defensive linemen.

Defensive end Nick Bosa led the 49ers defense with an 85.5 overall grade despite failing to reach Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. Still, Pro Football Focus credited the pass rusher with three total pressures, three hurries, and a stop. It was predicted that Bosa would be limited to about 30-40 snaps after returning to the team late following a six-week holdout. He played 35 snaps against the Steelers.

Newcomer Javon Hargrave was impressive in the middle and looks to be every bit as good as the 49ers hoped when they signed him to a four-year, $84 million deal in March. Hargrave recorded a sack to accompany his three pressures and two hurries.

Drake Jackson rounded out the top five with his game-leading and league-tying (Josh Allen, Jacksonville; T.J. Watt, Steelers) three sacks. He earned five total pressures and two hurries in his sophomore season debut.

Arik Armstead came in at No. 6 on the list, earning five pressures, a hit, and a hurry.

Snap Counts

68 - Aaron Banks (LG), Colton McKivitz (RT), Jake Brendel (C), Spencer Burford (RG)
66 - Brock Purdy (QB)
65 - Trent Williams (LT)
59 - Deebo Samuel (WR)
58 - Brandon Aiyuk (WR), Christian McCaffrey (RB)
47 - George Kittle (TE)
42 - Kyle Juszczyk (FB)
22 - Jauan Jennings (WR)
21 - Charlie Woerner (TE)
12 - Ross Dwelley (TE)
10 - Elijah Mitchell (RB)
8 - Ronnie Bell (WR)
3 - Jaylon Moore (LT), Ray-Ray McCloud III (WR)
2 - Sam Darnold (QB)

63 - Fred Warner (LB), Tashaun Gipson Sr. (FS)
61 - Dre Greenlaw (LB), Talanoa Hufanga (FS)
55 - Deommodore Lenoir (CB)
51 - Charvarius Ward (CB)
42 - Javon Hargrave (DT)
41 - Arik Armstead (DT)
35 - Nick Bosa (DE)
34 - Ambry Thomas (CB)
33 - Isaiah Oliver (CB)
31 - Clelin Ferrell (DE)
28 - Drake Jackson (DE)
24 - Javon Kinlaw (DT)
20 - Kevin Givens (DT)
16 - Austin Bryant (DE), Kerry Hyder Jr. (DE)
9 - Samuel Womack III (CB)
8 - Oren Burks (LB)
2 - George Odum (FS)

Special Teams
24 - Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley
18 - Curtis Robinson, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, George Odum
17 - Jordan Mason, Mitch Wishnowsky (P), Samuel Womack III
14 - Isaiah Oliver
10 - Taybor Pepper (LS)
9 - Ji'Ayir Brown
8 - Ray-Ray McCloud III
7 - Aaron Banks, Ambry Thomas, Colton McKivitz, Jake Moody (K), Jaylon Moore, Jon Feliciano, Matt Pryor, Spencer Burford
5 - Jauan Jennings, Talanoa Hufanga
4 - Oren Burks, Ronnie Bell
3 - Deommodore Lenoir, Tashaun Gipson Sr.
2 - Drake Jackson, Fred Warner
1 - Arik Armstead, Charvarius Ward, Clelin Ferrell, Dre Greenlaw, Javon Hargrave, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Nick Bosa

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