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49ers Dominate Season Opener with Convincing Win Over Steelers

Six months after undergoing elbow surgery to mend a torn UCL, 49ers' quarterback Brock Purdy made a triumphant comeback. He showcased his prowess by throwing for 220 yards and two touchdowns

In a resounding start to their 2023 season, the San Francisco 49ers left no doubt about their intentions, cruising to a commanding 30-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Here are the key takeaways from this thrilling encounter:

Brock Purdy's Impressive Return: Six months after undergoing elbow surgery to mend a torn UCL, 49ers' quarterback Brock Purdy made a triumphant comeback. He showcased his prowess by throwing for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-29 passes, setting a positive tone for his team.

Total Domination by the 49ers:San Francisco asserted their dominance in every facet of the game, outgaining the Steelers with 391 total yards to their 239. The 49ers also displayed superior ball control, holding possession for nearly 15 minutes more than their opponents.

Kenny Pickett's Struggles:On the Steelers' side, quarterback Kenny Pickett had a challenging day, finishing with 232 yards on 31-of-46 passes, accompanied by two interceptions. The Steelers' offense, which had looked flawless during the preseason, faced a stark contrast on this Sunday.

Injuries Plague Steelers:Pittsburgh's woes didn't end with their offensive struggles. They suffered significant injuries as well, with Cam Heyward exiting the first half due to a groin injury, and Diontae Johnson succumbing to a hamstring injury in the second half.

Jake Moody's Flawless Kicking Display:Rookie kicker Jake Moody was a bright spot for the 49ers, converting all three of his field goal attempts, further solidifying his presence on the team.

The Undrafted's Instant Analysis:

San Francisco's All-Around Dominance:The 49ers left no stone unturned in their pursuit of a comprehensive victory. Brock Purdy's precision, the dynamic duo of Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk, and the seamless functioning of Kyle Shanahan's offensive machinery in run-blocking all stood out. Despite some minor hiccups, such as right tackle Colton McKivitz allowing three sacks to T.J. Watt, this road win firmly establishes the 49ers as genuine contenders this season. This is particularly significant considering the flurry of news surrounding the team during the offseason. — Lombardi

Steelers' Offensive Nightmare:Despite an impeccable preseason performance, the Steelers' offense stumbled, going three-and-out on their first five drives. Pickett's two interceptions, an ineffective running game, and questionable play calling made it seem like a midseason game last year rather than the promising preseason display. — Kaboly

49ers' Defense on the Rise:The 49ers' defense, already the best in the NFL in the previous season, appears poised to elevate its game even further in 2023. Although Nick Bosa had a quiet day on the stat sheet due to double-teams by Pittsburgh, other 49ers like Arik Armstead and Drake Jackson thrived under pressure. The addition of premier pass-rushing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has bolstered the 49ers' pass rush, and they continue to excel at linebacker and safety. Pittsburgh's struggles, especially the 29 minutes it took them to secure their first first down, highlight the 49ers' defensive potential. — Lombardi

McCaffrey's Stellar Performance:Christian McCaffrey, who impressed after joining midseason last year, showcased even greater prowess on Sunday. His offseason preparation in the 49ers' offense paid off as he racked up 151 rushing yards, along with 17 receiving yards. McCaffrey's comfort in the team's unique zone-blocking scheme was evident, and he seems poised for a stellar season. — Barrows

49ers' Investments Pay Off:The 49ers' recent contract restructures for veterans like Trent Williams, Arik Armstead, and George Kittle paid early dividends. These moves opened up $42 million in 2023 salary-cap space, signifying the team's commitment to sustained success. The 49ers made a resounding statement with their dominant performance, showing their intention to win now and in the foreseeable future. — Lombardi

T.J. Watt's Record Day:Steelers' edge rusher T.J. Watt had a memorable outing, tallying three sacks to tie James Harrison for the franchise record with 80.5 career sacks. Despite his standout performance, the rest of the Steelers' defense struggled to contain the 49ers' offense, signaling the need for improvement from one of the league's highest-paid units. — DeFabo

Key Stats:Christian McCaffrey's 151 rushing yards marked his highest total since 2019, and his 168 all-purpose yards were the second-highest in his 49ers career.

Austyn McFadden

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Sunday, September 10, 2023

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