49ers

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to undergo MRI, could miss 49ers game

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AP

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger to undergo MRI, could miss 49ers game

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.

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.

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.

[RELATED: Now-injured Staley vows to coach 49ers rookie left tackle]

Depending on the results of Roethlisberger's MRI, the 49ers could face a significantly depleted team at some very important positions.

Why Donte Whitner believes 6-0 49ers should go deep in NFL playoffs

Why Donte Whitner believes 6-0 49ers should go deep in NFL playoffs

With each win, the expectations keep ratcheting up for the 49ers.

Barring a historic collapse, the 6-0 49ers will make the playoffs. So now, it's about how deep they can go.

Can Kyle Shanahan's squad get to the NFC Championship game? Can they really make it to Super Bowl LIV in Miami?

After San Francisco's 9-0 win over Washington on Sunday, NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Donte Whitner outlined his hopes for the team.

"They are playing great defense right now. I saw a stat that said they are No. 2 in almost every major category in the National Football League and deservedly so," Whitner said on 49ers Postgame Live. "They put a lot of work in, they brought the free agents in, they're detailed, they're handling their business and they're physical on defense.

"There's no reason why they shouldn't win a lot of football games and get to the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs."

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' win over Washington]

The 49ers haven't made the playoffs since the 2013 season and are coming off a 4-12 season. Getting to the playoffs was a lofty goal entering the season. But now, just making the playoffs won't suffice. This team appears to be good enough to win the NFC.

Why 49ers' sloppy Week 7 win over Washington was historically boring

Why 49ers' sloppy Week 7 win over Washington was historically boring

Even in a game as listless and sloppy as the 49ers' 9-0 win over Washington on Sunday, history can be made. 

The 49ers opened Week 7 as double-digit favorites, but the hosts covered the spread in holding their deficit to nine points. Only one other team has "accomplished" that feat in the last quarter-century, according to ESPN's Doug Kezirian. 

If you thought Sunday's slop-fest was boring, it had nothing on that Steelers-Dolphins game. 

Not only was it played in prime time, on "Monday Night Football," the game featured a whopping 375 yards of combined offense. By contrast, the 49ers and Washington looked more like the '07 Patriots, combining for 437 yards Sunday. At least Washington had won a game headed into Week 7, unlike winless Miami in the rain-soaked snoozer 12 years ago, and San Francisco can say its win somewhat resembled a(n American) football score. 

Still, Sunday's 49ers-Washington scoreline actually is rarer than that of Steelers-Dolphins. Sunday marked just the 30th time in NFL history that a game finished 9-0, and it was only the third time this century.

[RELATED: 2019 Mud Bowl Champions!' 49ers prove they can adjust]

By contrast, 59 NFL games have finished with a 3-0 final score. Thankfully, Steelers-Dolphins is the last such instance ... for now.  

The 49ers will take a 6-0 start to the season however they can get it, just as bettors who picked Washington to cover the spread will do the same. For anyone else, though, Sunday's Week 7 "game" was historically boring.

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