The 49ers are 2-0 for the first time since 2012, and they've started a season with two consecutive road wins for the first time since 1989. They won't have their starting left tackle when they play their first home game of the season, in Week 3 against the Steelers, but it's possible Joe Staley won't be the most critical player missing from that contest.
That's not a jab at Staley, mind you. As the protector of Jimmy Garoppolo's blind side, his importance to San Francisco cannot be overstated. But he's not the quarterback, and Pittsburgh could be without its signal-caller next Sunday at Levi's Stadium.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was removed from Sunday's 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks after appearing to injure his throwing arm during the second quarter. Roethlisberger did not return, and reportedly is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his elbow.
Ben Roethlisberger will have an MRI on his right elbow to determine extent of his injury, per source— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 15, 2019
Roethlisberger was in obvious discomfort after the play on which the injury occurred. However, according to ESPN's Dianna Rusini, Big Ben reportedly had been dealing with inflammation in his right elbow during the past week.
Inside the Steelers’ locker room players obviously concerned about the health of Ben Roethlisberger.— Dianna (@diannaESPN) September 15, 2019
One player told me that the team actually was aware that the QB was dealing with some elbow inflammation all week at practice. #Steelers
As such, Roethlisberger's status for Week 3 obviously is in question. Making matters worse for the Steelers, they traded away their former backup quarterback, Joshua Dobbs, to the Jaguars last week for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick. Additionally, running back James Connor went to the blue tent late in the loss to the Seahawks and did not return.
Mason Rudolph came on in relief of Roethlisberger and performed admirably, completing 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns as the Steelers almost pulled off a late comeback. However, there's a reason why he was third-string on the depth chart as of one week ago, and there's no question Pittsburgh is a stronger team with Big Ben behind center.
Depending on the results of Roethlisberger's MRI, the 49ers could face a significantly depleted team at some very important positions.