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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George Pickens, Fred Warner, 49ers
San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

49ers Defensive Grades

The 49ers defense had a couple of drives where things got a little leaky, but beyond that, they were more than exceptional, and they combined solid play with explosive turnovers to shut down the Steelers offense.

49ers Rush Defense

The 49ers completely shut down the run. The box score reads 10 rushes for 41 yards, mostly coming on Najee Harris's 25-yard scamper at the end of the first half, but that does not begin to explain how dominant the rush defense was. It was not just that they stopped the Steelers when rushing the ball, but they played so well against the run, that Pittsburgh completely abandoned it altogether. No NFL team wants a 4-to-1 pass/run ratio, but the 49ers dominance made the Steelers one-dimensional.

It was a group effort as always, with the defensive line funneling backs to the linebackers who cleaned it all up.

Grade: A++

49ers Pass Defense

The 49ers played solidly against the Pittsburgh passing offense. The box score reflects more of the garbage time drives the Steelers mustered. It was a combined effort again with the defensive line's pressure keeping Kenny Pickett from making any longer throws, and the coverage was sufficiently sticky on the shorter-level passing concepts.

The pass rush in particular was dominant. Embattled second-year player Drake Jackson exploded for three sacks, new addition Javon Hargrave added one of his own and the 49ers defensive line was on the ball throughout the game, finishing with five sacks and disrupting several more plays.

The Niners secondary was opportunistic. Charvarius Ward grabbed an interception when Diontae Johnson slipped, and Talanoa Hufanga picked off a deflection by Fred Warner, but there were moments where things seemed looser than necessary.

Part of that came on the Steelers' only touchdown drive as both Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir played soft coverage that allowed the Steelers to march down the field, and Lenoir in particular had a couple of costly penalties that allowed the Steelers to really make the drive work. Against the Steelers, it did not cost them.

But this has been an issue for San Francisco for the last few years and CB2 play was not exactly comfortable for the future.

Grade: B+