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Steelers Gameday

Steelers Battered, Badly Beaten by 49ers



Steelers Pat Freiermuth
Pat Freiermuth takes a knee for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they lose to the San Francisco 49ers, Sept. 10, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers were battered and badly beaten by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, never coming close to competing in a lopsided opener that was less close than even its 30-7 final score indicated.

The Steelers had just three offensive plays on each of their first five drives, with four of them ending in punts and the other a Kenny Pickett interception. 

Setback by several short fields, the defense was unable to contain the 49ers, yielding points on each of the first four drives, and the game was out of hand before it even had a chance to get going.

Pickett was dreadful, with most of his positive statistical contributions coming after the game was long over. He finished 31 of 46 for 232 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked five times.

San Francisco starter Brock Purdy was nearly as effective just throwing to just one receiver. The Steelers were completely unable to handle 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. He scored both of the early touchdowns, both over Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson, after the veteran guaranteed an interception on his podcast earlier in the week.

Aiyuk finished with eight catches for 129 yards and the two scores. In total, Purdy was 19 of 29 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. 

The lone bright spot of the day for the Steelers was the play of outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who sacked Purdy three times to tie James Harrison for the team’s all-time lead.

But that was more than offset by a string of injuries, some of which appeared to be serious.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward left the game with a groin injury and did not return. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson left immediately after grabbing his right hamstring. DeMarvin Leal (elbow) and Pat Freiermuth (chest) both returned after being injured, but did not finish the game.

Right tackle Chuks Okorafor left the game on the final drive, and was replaced with first-round pick Broderick Jones. Okorafor’s injury was not announced.

The Steelers will have an extra day to recover from their wounds, break down the awful tape and attempt to rebound against the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football in Week 2.