It’s easy to win a game when everything goes well, but it takes a truly good team to win a game where you play poorly. For all the frustrations, we learned a LOT about this San Francisco 49ers team.
The San Francisco 49ers pulled off an absolutely gutsy win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in their home opener, with the 24-20 victory placing them at 3-0 for the first time since 1998 heading into their early Week 4 bye.
The first half was beyond frustrating. The defense came ready to play, and it was a good thing they did, as the Niners had four turnovers alone in the first half.
With points left on the board and the lead tantalizingly in reach, with the Steelers stuttering on offense, San Francisco fans everywhere were tearing their hair out.
Luckily the Steelers were unable to take advantage of multiple drives that started in good field position, and could only muster a 6-0 lead off two field goals. The 49ers would add one of their own to be down 6-3 at halftime.
The second half was something of the opposite. The 49ers offense were able to sustain drives and score touchdowns, while the Steelers were able to finally able to keep drives moving of their own with some long touchdown passes pulling them ahead.
However, a (possible) trick play went horribly wrong when the ball bounced off wide receiver Dante Pettis from a direct snap (or the snap was timed wrong and hit him in motion, it’s hard to tell) and the Steelers recovered for their fifth turnover of the day.
Editor’s note: Head coach Kyle Shanahan later told reporters the timing was off on a fake sweep.
The 49ers promptly recovered the ball for one last drive.
And drive the 49ers did. Some hard runs down the middle and some clutch play by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo drove them almost to the goal line. Garoppolo threw a dart to Pettis with less than two minutes remaining, who celebrated being out of the doghouse of Shanahan with the game-winning touchdown:
The Steelers mustered one last drive, but the 49ers defense came up big again. A desperation fourth-down heave went incomplete, and the Niners celebrated being undefeated heading into their bye.
OK, it’s only a Week 4 bye, but still.
The offense was wasteful in the first half with some bad fumbles and interceptions, which were not entirely on Garoppolo, but picked up the play in the second half. More importantly, while it’s fun to blow out teams, the Niners also showed they can show up in the clutch.
The defense was pretty much great all day, outside of a few aforementioned touchdown passes conceded to first-time starting quarterback Mason Rudolph. But on the whole, this unit gets a big tick.
Let’s take a look at the grades for every unit for Week 3.