PITTSBURGH — Desmond King leads the Steelers’ list of inactives as they welcome the 49ers to Pittsburgh. The Steelers acquired King from the Houston Texans after they released him during final cut-downs. He is expected to have a role in the future, but he still has to catch up to guys like Elijah Riley and Chandon Sullivan to earn a helmet.
The other inactives are upstart offensive tackle Dylan Cook, wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, and defensive lineman Armon Watts. Mason Rudolph is inactive as the third quarterback. Spencer Anderson will be the do-it-all interior lineman, while they will dress six defensive linemen. Larry Ogunjobi was listed as questionable with a foot injury, but he will suit up and play.
For the 49ers, tight end George Kittle and cornerback Charvarius Ward were both questionable but will play. Among their inactives, quarterback Brandon Allen, offensive lineman Nick Zakeji, running back Tyrion Davis-Price, linebackers Dee Winters and Jalen Graham, tight end Brayden Willis, and defensive lineman Kalia Davis highlight their inactives.
That means, unless the player was on injured reserve before the game, both teams are fully healthy. For the Steelers, that is a welcome sight after coming into last season a little banged up. The 49ers came in banged up for the Steelers week, but appear to be fully healthy, as all of their injuries have healed.
King, 28, played over 900 snaps for the Houston Texans in the last two seasons and did it relatively well, especially in 2022, when he had an 89.2 passer rating when targeted per Pro Football Focus.
He played most of his time in the slot, where he’s also a relatively solid run defender and, at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is a somewhat thicker body than the Steelers have in Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan.
A fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, King was a contributor right away as a rookie and has played at least 15 games in his five NFL seasons. King became a part-time starter in his second season and continued that role until he was traded to the Tennessee Titans mid-season in 2020.
A free agent in 2021, he signed a one-year deal with Houston, which made him the Texans’ starting slot cornerback. Before last season, he signed a two-year contract extension and played well, setting a career-high in total snaps played, adding 103 snaps of special teams to his 918 of defense. He finished fourth on the Houston defense with 89 tackles and had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.