The San Francisco 49ers continued their winning ways in their home opener on Sunday, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20. The Niners improved to 3-0 on the season with a sloppy victory, one that still featured a few standout performances.
After a successful road trip to start the 2019 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers opened the home portion of their schedule with a victory over the then-0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers in Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.
Yet the 24-20 final score and the final statistics don’t paint a very good picture of the game, as the 49ers committed five turnovers (two interceptions and three fumbles) on offense, while the defense was asked to overcome those mistakes to keep the team in the game.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s group was up to the task, holding the Steelers and second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, starting his first NFL game, to just six points off those turnovers, all while forcing two key turnovers of their own.
Unlike last week’s win in Cincinnati against the Bengals, the game wasn’t decided until the game’s final moments. Late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo zipped a pass into a tight window towards wide receiver Dante Pettis, who snapped the ball out of the air and danced into the end zone to give the Niners the lead for good:
The defense then forced a turnover on downs on the Steelers’ ensuing possession, and the Niners got to line up for their third straight victory formation to end the contest.
It wasn’t the prettiest looking win, by any stretch of the imagination, but the team did what this franchise has been unable to do over the past few seasons: finish out close games when facing adversity.
This year’s team, however, overcame the five turnovers and took the victory from a reeling Steelers squad to push the 49ers record to 3-0 going into the early bye week.
All that said, there were some performances which stood out from the rest, starting with a somewhat unlikely one based solely on the box score.