The 49ers’ dominating Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was objectively impressive.
But the 49ers’ ability to pull out a 24-20 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers after committing five turnovers was enough to convince one member of the organization’s first Super Bowl championship team that this squad is made of the right stuff.
“That was a defining win at Levi’s Stadium for this Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era,” former 49ers wide receiver and long-time Bay Area broadcaster Mike Shumann said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.
“It was good to see them fight back, then come back and win the game when they got behind.”
The 49ers showed the ability to overcome adversity in a way unlike they have been able to accomplish the past five seasons. For instance, last season the 49ers outgained the Arizona Cardinals, 447 yards to 220. But the 49ers lost to the Cardinals, 28-18, because of five giveaways.
Shumann even referenced the NFC Championshp Game in January 1982, when the 49ers committed six turnovers and still beat the Dallas Cowboys as Joe Montana and Dwight Clark teamed up for "The Catch."
This was a landmark win for the 49ers against the Steelers because rarely in recent years have they been able to win a game in which they decisively lose the turnover battle.
“When you have team like the 49ers that has struggled, you have to re-learn how to win, especially with this organization because now they’re are all Kyle’s and John Lynch’s guys,” Shumann said.
“It showed this team is making progress and the character they have ... Now you got a team with some character.”
The 49ers overcame the on-field mistakes and also managed a strong offensive showing with rookie lineman Justin Skule filling in at left tackle for Joe Staley, who is expected to be out six to eight weeks with a fractured lower leg. After winning two games on the road to open the season, the 49ers improved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history since 1998.
“All in all, with the injuries and turnovers, it shows you they’re ready to make the next step,” Shumann said.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is looking more comfortable after struggling in the team’s Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay. Both of his interceptions on Sunday were passes that deflected off the hands of his intended receivers.
Garoppolo delivered the game-winner to wide receiver Dante Pettis in the closing minutes with a 5-yard pass he fit between two Steelers defenders. It was the kind of victory that could later be seen a springboard to a successful season, Shumann said.
“Now the 49ers are in a dogfight to get to maybe the playoffs,” Shumann said. “I don’t know if they can win their division because their schedule is pretty tough, but maybe they can be that wild card.”