49ers defense putting on 1st-half clinic vs. Steelers in Week 1

Quite literally, the Steelers couldn't do anything at all against the 49ers defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the Steelers offense isn't that good, but the 49ers defense made it look awful over the first half of Week 1.

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk might have been the San Francisco 49ers' offensive star over the first half of action against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.

After all, any time a player records two touchdowns in a half (or even a game), it's usually something to talk about. And that's precisely what Aiyuk did to help get the Niners out to a 20-7 first-half lead over Pittsburgh.

In plain sight of that score, though, is another facet of San Francisco's season opener.

Zero points from the Steelers prior to their last possession.

49ers defense is dominating everything the Steelers are trying to do

Pittsburgh opened up on offense but went 3-and-out, one of five the 49ers were able to force over the first two quarters. Thanks to his first of two sacks by second-year edge Drake Jackson, the Steelers had to punt there.

It wasn't just about punts, though. On the Niners' second defensive stand, it was cornerback Charvarius Ward picking off Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, a turnover that netted San Francisco a field goal on the subsequent possession:

Related story: 49ers vs. Steelers: Betting odds, game time and how to watch Week 1 matchup

There were plenty of other standout plays by the 49ers defense, yes. But take a look at these cumulative stats by Pittsburgh's offense through two quarters:

  • Net yards: 77
  • Rush yards: 26
  • Net Pass yards: 51
  • Total first downs: 6
  • Total offensive plays: 27

If that's not domination, what is? And up until the Steelers' final offensive possession, on which the bulk of the above numbers were achieved, they had a mere 2 net yards. They also had just 8:54 in time of possession over that half, too.

Granted, the Niners owned the best defense in the NFL last season, and some would argue this unit got even better after the offseason addition of former Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave in free agency.

Still, shutting out any opponent in the first half of any game is quite an impressive feat, one San Francisco is happy to have accomplished in Week 1.

Hopefully, that trend will continue for the 49ers in the second quarter.

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