The Steelers and 49ers are two of the most physical teams in the NFL. Both teams want to run the football, and their defense goes out there with the intent to hit with a physicality that fits right in with the AFC North. In many ways, the 49ers take a lot of their tapestry from the AFC North in that way. That makes this game a game that should train both teams for the physical division in which they reside.
So, what is the mentality for the Steelers coming into this game? Former 49ers linebacker and new Steelers linebacker Kwon Alexander had a pretty brutal way to describe it, but that’s how he plays.
“Be prepared to hit and not make them move afterwards,” Alexander told 93.7 the Fan.
That’s a quote for you. But Alexander is wired that way. When he first came to the Steelers, Alexander’s first declaration was that he could hit, even though he likely was brought in partially for his aptitude in coverage. While not that brutal, the Steelers look forward to meeting the physicality that the 49ers bring.
“The physical games are the type of games you look forward to,” Highsmith said. “We know they like to play bully ball, and we do, too. It’ll be a physical game, but we’re ready for it.”
The 49ers are ready for it, too. George Kittle is as gritty a tight end as there is in the league, and his passion for blocking comes across as infectious. When the two styles of physicality meet one another, something has to give. The 49ers are up for meeting the Steelers’ level of physicality, too.
“The Steelers are known for playing bully ball. They want to out-physical you. They want to hit you. They want to let you know that their presence is there. … We’re aware of that. The Niners are also known for bully ball, for being physical. So I’m really looking forward to this competition,” Kittle said.
So, expect the ice baths and hot tubs to run after the game. These guys will be sore, and many punishments will be dealt out. It’s not an AFC North game, but it feels like it might be getting hot in Mike Tomlin’s metaphorical kitchen with some of these declarations.