Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' Week 2 loss to Steelers
One step forward, one step back
After an impressive showing in Week 1 of the regular season, the 49ers were thoroughly whipped Sunday in a 43-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. “We had one great win and one horrible loss,” 49ers safety Antoine Bethea said. “But the good thing about it is we got a game next week.” Coach Jim Tomsula stresses the philosophy of “own it, fix it and move on.” There is a lot to fix after this game...
5) Not as good; not as bad
The 49ers’ opening victory over the Minnesota Vikings was impressive. But the follow-up in Pittsburgh was an absolute disaster. The Steelers scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the first half and the rout was on, as the 49ers fell behind 29-3 at halftime. Where are the 49ers? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. They’re not as good as they were in Week 1, and they can only hope they’re not as bad as what they showed against the Steelers.
4) Dual-threat Kaepernick
It is clear the 49ers want to use quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a runner and passer. Kaepernick ended up with impressive stats after passing for just 61 yards in the first half when the 49ers trailed by 26 points. Kaepernick threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 106.7. The pass protection and Kaepernick’s ability to get rid of the ball was an issue, as he was sacked five times for minus-37 yards. He was also part of their read-option game with a team-high 51 yards on eight attempts. The worst part for the offense was that they put together drives that lasted 17, 18 and 15 plays. But the 49ers managed only three points total from those drives.
3) Hyde is the new Gore
All it took was one game for defenses to realize the 49ers plan to feature Carlos Hyde as the key component of the team’s offense – just as they did with Frank Gore for many years. Hyde rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. But the yards were a lot more difficult to achieve on Sunday. He gained just 43 yards on 14 carries before exiting in the third quarter. He was evaluated for a concussion. Despite being cleared to return to the game, he spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Earlier in the game, Hyde had a scare when he took a shot to the knee. But he quickly returned that time.
2) Taking a pass on defense
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown completely had their way with the 49ers’ overmatched defense. Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw and carved up the 49ers. He averaged 13.7 yards per attempt. The pass-rush was awful. And Roethlisberger picked apart the 49ers’ secondary. Some of the problem was that the 49ers defensive backs were simply not as good as Brown and company. The 49ers tried too hard to disguise their coverages and then could not get back into position to play the assigned defenses. Brown accounted for 195 of Roethlisberger’s 369 passing yards. Kenneth Acker was targeted six times against Brown and surrendered six completions for 120 yards. The only time Tramaine Brock was challenged, he gave up a deep ball.
1) What’s in the cards?
This game figured to be difficult with the 49ers coming off a short week and the Steelers getting four more days to rest and prepare. So who are the real 49ers? The next game could set the tone for the rest of the season. The Arizona Cardinals (2-0) are the only unbeaten team in the NFC West. The 49ers will travel to the desert to face the Cardinals on Sunday. “My thing is, I want to see how we respond,” NaVorro Bowman said. “This is the NFL. We’ve had losses before, but it’s how you respond (after) taking a loss like this. We’re a young team, so that’ll be the great challenge for us. We have an important game coming up in Arizona.”