49ers Special Teams/Coaching Grades
Both the special teams and coaching was fairly solid, with some good moments and bad as well.
Special Teams: B-
It was a boring day for the special teams with nothing much out of the ordinary happening, but there were some things to comment on.
James returned his two kickoffs for 48 yards and was decent returning punts, with 56 yards off five attempts. But the Steelers coverage was fairly good.
The 49ers coverage unit was good throughout. Nothing much to comment on there.
I believe the coaching was pretty well done throughout, although I did have a major criticism of head coach Kyle Shanahan with the fumble in the fourth quarter (the 49ers had no business using such a gimmicky play only three points down late in scoring position), but the fact the play may have been a mistimed snap means I’m not actually sure it’s a valid criticism.
Let’s just say that, if it was a direct snap to Pettis, it was an absolutely stupid call.
The coaching can’t be blamed for the fumbles and deflected interceptions, and the two long touchdowns weren’t really a result of poor coaching.
If I had to nitpick I will say defensive coordinator Robert Saleh should have given Verrett some safety help over the top considering how rusty he was.
That being said, the touchdown was due more to Verrett watching the ball and not his man.
For the vast majority of the game, the offense was driving down the field on the Steelers and the defense were coming up big. So many times last season, those poor field positions off the turnovers would have gone for six points each. Instead the defense stood tall which proved to be the difference as the game would have otherwise been out of reach.
It takes real character and toughness to win a game when you struggle, and the 49ers showed that against the Steelers. Their reward is an early bye week, and their first 3-0 start in 21 years.