San Francisco 49ers

Watch Kyle Shanahan give victory speech after 49ers win vs. Steelers

Watch Kyle Shanahan give victory speech after 49ers win vs. Steelers

"That's as cool of a win as I've ever been a part of."

It wasn't pretty, but the 49ers got the job done Sunday, defeating the visiting Steelers 24-20 to improve to 3-0 on the young season. In the locker room following the win, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan greeted his boisterous team, and reminded the 49ers of what they had just accomplished.

"It was what we thought. We knew we would get their best," Shanahan shouted, "but we got different character this year, man."

He specifically credited the defense for holding Pittsburgh to just two field goals in the first half despite four turnovers by the offense.

"When you have five turnovers like that, it is hard to win in this league. You have to be good players, but you also have special people. You guys didn't waiver the whole game. Can't appreciate you guys enough for that."

Shanahan then issued his team a challenge: "How much better can we get, though?

"We can get better. We can get a lot better, men," he answered as the locker room reverberated in agreement.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in gritty win vs. Steelers]

Shanahan proceeded to lay out the upcoming practice schedule, as the 49ers now enter their bye week. A perfect time to get better.

George Kittle channels The Rock after 49ers' 24-20 win over Steelers

George Kittle channels The Rock after 49ers' 24-20 win over Steelers

George Kittle is a huge wrestling fan.

Last season, the 49ers tight end needed to hustle out of his postgame press conference in order to make it over to SAP Center in San Jose for a WWE event.

It was with that knowledge in mind that NBC Sports Bay Area had Kittle record a segment in which he pumped up 49ers fans for the home opener.

So after the 49ers beat the Steelers on Sunday to improve to 3-0, the team caught Kittle jumping into that wrestling mentality.

Last December, NBC Sports Bay Area's Jennifer Lee Chan spoke to Kittle about his love of wrestling.

“One of my favorite things is when I see guys flying out of the ring 24-7. Ladders matches, stuff like that," Kittle said at the time. "I love when there's not a single second of downtime. Everyone getting pushed, fight, fight, fight, fall out of the ring, and the next guy comes in. He falls out, next guy comes in. It’s like a rotation of six guys.”

[RELATED: Grades from 49ers' win over Steelers]

If the 49ers keep up their winning ways, Kittle might have to make a heel turn.

49ers' defense embracing challenge of rescuing team in big moments

49ers' defense embracing challenge of rescuing team in big moments

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers defense came to the rescue again as the offense coughed up the ball five times in the team’s 24-20 win over the Steelers.

When an offense gives the ball up five times in a game, it could cause their defense to groan, “Not this again," but that is not the case for the 49ers. In fact, several members of the defense like the challenge of carrying the game on their shoulders. 

Linebacker Kwon Alexander is never lacking energy and that was the case each time he and the defense went back onto the field in the team’s home opener. When asked if the mood on the sideline ever wavered as the offense struggled, Alexander claimed that it provoked the exact opposite reaction. 

“Did you see us when we were out there on the field?” Alexander said. “It doesn’t matter. No, that’s our mindset. Wherever we’re at on the field, we’re going to do our thing. It doesn’t matter if we’re on the 2-yard line, or if the ball’s put on the 2-yard line. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to go out there and just play hard, and finish the game.”

The new attitude of the defense is partly because of additions like Alexander to the group. They have a confidence that is backed up by their ability to shut down an offense. Twice in the first quarter they held the Steelers offense to a field goal when they had started with excellent field position. 

By the end of the first half, the 49ers defense had limited the Steelers offense to 76 total yards and six points. Their own offense had put them at a disadvantage having already turned over the ball three times.

DeForest Buckner addressed how the group responded to their chance to carry the game.

“Yeah, everybody, the defense, man, I’m proud of every single one of them,” Buckner said.  “Nobody shied away from the challenge. We love that. It’s more of an opportunity for us as a defense to get better, to show what we can do. It just shows the hard work that we put in on the offseason altogether and it’s coming to fruition.”

Richard Sherman says the 49ers defense thrives off of challenges like they faced in the team’s home opener. The adversity seems to motivate them even more.

[RELATED: Grades for 49ers' 24-20 win]

“It was probably more enthusiastic when we got the turnovers than it was when we didn’t,” Sherman said. “Like when our offense gave up a turnover and put us in a hard spot, we took it as Murphy’s Law. We took it as Murphy’s Law, and you want to slap Murphy in the face, and we did that today. 

“We took Murphy’s Law -- everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. You take it with a smile, and you go out there and persevere, and that’s what we did today as a defense. That’s what our offense did and that’s what our special teams did today. That’s what we did as a full team.”