Game grades from 49ers Week 1 domination over Steelers

The 49ers took care of business and then some, opening up their 2023 season with a 30-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Niner Noise hands out grades from the contest.
San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, 49ers
San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

49ers Offensive Grades

The 49ers came away with 30 points, and beyond a couple of small issues, it was a truly dominant performance by Kyle Shanahan's side, starting at QB and extending all the way down.

49ers Rushing Offense

The 49ers rushed for 188 yards on 34 carries, averaging 5.52 yards a carry (even with the less efficient runs near the end of the game adding to the tally). But the way the Niners ran the ball was the most important. Beyond the McCaffrey splash play, it was a consistent attack at the line, always getting 3 to 4 yards a carry and slowly moving the chains.

That type of play is efficient, and when you add an explosive play that San Francisco is so capable of bringing out, that's the type of run play the 49ers need.

If there is anything to quibble about, it would be the usage of the running backs. Christian McCaffrey dominated the touches, even in garbage time. The key for the Niners having a productive rushing attack all year is managing CMC's touches and integrating the other backs more often, keeping everyone healthy and adding necessary changes of pace.

Elijah Mitchell's 10 yards on five carries just won't cut it.

Grade: A

49ers Passing Offense

San Francisco's passing offense was absolutely electric, except for when Steelers edge T.J. Watt had one-on-one rushing opportunities against new right tackle Colton McKivitz.

Watt is on the short list of best edge players in the NFL, and the 49ers won't often have to face a player of his caliber. That said, Watt absolutely blew up some offensive plays. And if it wasn't for the Niners' overall play,he could have swung the game toward the Steelers. With Watt finishing with three sacks and two forced fumbles. one of which he recovered, McKivitz's performance in pass blocking was a major issue.

Outside of that, though, the 49ers passing offense was phenomenal. Brock Purdy's final stat line is not as pretty as his play was, as he always seemed to get the ball to the right spot and attacked the intermediate parts of the field. There was never a bad decision or a truly errant pass.

He was helped by Brandon Aiyuk, who took the final step towards becoming an absolute elite No. 1 receiving option in the NFL by hauling in eight receptions for 129 yards, two touchdowns (including a highlight-reel pass and grab), and just getting open on every single play. Aiyuk is the 49ers' best pure receiver, and he showed it. Deebo Samuel was less productive than his counterpart with only 55 yards, but he was also solid, and overall the passing offense fired on all cylinders.

Now, just to get the blocking on the right side under control.

Grade: A-