No. 1: 49ers hold Steelers to less than 100 rush yards
Of my five bold predictions this week, this is the one I feel has me going out on a limb the least.
As noted earlier, the Steelers are averaging a paltry 56.5 yards rushing per game heading into Week 3.
Concurrently the 49ers defense is allowing a mere 73 yards per game on the ground.
If it’s not evident to the NFL world yet, it should be. The Niners went on a mission this offseason to upgrade the front seven of the defense. The moves general manager John Lynch and Shanahan made weren’t the improvements many believed were needed to help on game days.
San Francisco 49ers
It was common knowledge the 49ers’ biggest weakness was their secondary. In defense of this stance, San Francisco set an NFL record low, with only seven takeaways in 2018. Of those turnovers, only two were interceptions and neither pick was from a cornerback.
The Niners weren’t a sack-generating bunch last year, either, as they got to opposing quarterbacks a total of 37 times. That statistic was good to tie them for 22nd in the NFL, not playoff-team numbers.
By signing free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander and drafting EDGE Nick Bosa this offseason,
the 49ers were intent on building their most formidable front seven since 2013. What the naysayers failed to see is how a great pass rush can make a good-to-great secondary.
That is precisely what has happened this season.
With the defense excelling up front, and Pittsburgh having trouble running the ball, the Steelers will find little success on the ground this Sunday.
Sunday is the 49ers’ home opener. They sport a 2-0 record. There should be the most raucous crowd Levi’s Stadium has seen since it opened in 2014. These aspects alone could be enough to see this prediction come true. Factoring in a Niners stingy run defense, and offense which could be putting up points with abandon, should be more than enough to fulfill this prediction.
Prediction: 49ers will hold the Steelers under 100 yards rushing in Week 3.