Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey help 49ers wallop Steelers for Week 1 win

If Week 1 is an indicator of things to come, the 49ers will be awfully good this season.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (R) against Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Damontae Kazee (L)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (R) against Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Damontae Kazee (L) / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

7. 55. 49ers Steelers score. 30. 42. Final

The 49ers' offensive stars came out to play, as Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey led the way in a one-sided Week 1 win over the Steelers.

Week 1 games can be pretty weird. After all, the 2016 San Francisco 49ers dominated the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, only to finish the year 2-14.

A similar outcome for the 2023 Niners isn't likely, though, as they're among the teams in top contention for a Super Bowl this season.

Still, a 30-7 one-sided win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in Week 1 to open up the year has to feel pretty good. And if head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad plays similar ball for the rest of the season, San Francisco will be right there in the Super Bowl discussion once January rolls around.

That's a long way away, though.

Back to our postgame programming, the 49ers dominated on both sides of the ball by holding Pittsburgh to 239 total yards in contrast to 391 of their own.

And while the Niners defense put on a clinic, forcing two turnovers, sacking quarterback Kenny Pickett five ties and holding the Steelers to an average of 3.9 yards per play, it was San Francisco's star offensive players who made a massive impact.

Particularly wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey star in 49ers' win over Steelers

Eighteen of the 49ers' 30 points came from the efforts of Aiyuk and McCaffrey.

Aiyuk, who had a team-high eight catches for 129 yards, got the Niners on the scoreboard with an early touchdown in the first quarter, beating Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson, who predicted he'd intercept Purdy during the game.

While it was a fine play that showcased Aiyuk's elite route-running skills, his contested-ball situation late in the second half was easily a more impressive score:

Aiyuk beat Peterson again, too, for what it's worth.

Not to be outdone by Aiyuk's stellar day, McCaffrey showed again why San Francisco traded for him a year ago and why many a fantasy football owner took him No. 1 overall in their fantasy drafts.

A cool 22-carry, 152-yard game on the ground, plus three catches for 17 yards through the air, were enough to be impressive.

But McCaffrey's 65-yard run to open up the 49ers' scoring in the second half proved to be a massive dagger, particularly after Pittsburgh gained a small amount of momentum back just before halftime with a late and desperate touchdown:

Related story: You've got to see this elite blocking on Christian McCaffrey's TD versus the Steelers

Both Aiyuk and McCaffrey were prime reasons why the Niners picked up 22 first downs and averaged 6.3 yards per play, making quarterback Brock Purdy's life that much easier.

Purdy, meanwhile, finished Sunday with an easy 19-of-29 mark for 220 yards, two touchdowns against zero interceptions and a 111.3 passer rating in his first game back after tearing his UCL last January in the NFC Championship game.

San Francisco's quarterback, plus the rest of the offense, seemed to be firing on all cylinders. And that's dangerous for the rest of the league when the 49ers defense was absolutely dominant, too.

It's just one week, yes. But it was a good week, for sure.

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