As we all know, this season has not been an easy one so far for Steelers fans. The good thing is, we are only entering Week 3 and there is still a lot of football left to play. This week could mark the beginning of a new era as second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph takes over for the 0-2 Steelers following the season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger. He will be tested on the road against a San Francisco team that has looked good so far, jumping out to a 2-0 record. Regardless of records, this should be a good match up to watch this Sunday. With that being said, let's take a deeper look at this week's opponent, the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers have quite a few serious injuries to monitor going into this week. After losing running back Jerick McKinnon at the beginning of the season with an ACL injury, it looks like they will be without their new lead back Tevin Coleman, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and did not practice on Thursday. Their offense will also be without offensive tackle Joe Staley due to a lower leg injury. Wide receivers Trent Taylor (Foot) and Jalen Hurd (Back) are also listed as questionable and did not practice on Thursday.
San Francisco has also been hit with some injuries on defense. Defensive ends Nick Bosa (Ankle) and Dee Ford (Quadriceps) are both listed as questionable this week. Ford did not practice on Thursday and Bosa was limited. In the secondary, cornerback/safety Jimmie Ward (Hand) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (Toe) are both listed as questionable. Both players were limited in practice on Thursday.
Is "Jimmy G" the "Real Deal"?
The main storyline of the 49ers' offense the past two seasons has been the question of if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was going to be the quarterback to save this franchise. After an average Week 1 performance, he looked very impressive last week. He threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-17 route over the Bengals. However, the Bengals secondary is awful so it is hard to judge him off that game. It will be interesting to see how he does this week against the Steelers.
As far as his weapons go, Garoppolo's top target is tight end George Kittle, who is arguably one of the best in the league at his position. The receiving core consists of rookie Deebo Samuel, who is having a very impressive season so far, along with Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James, and Jalen Hurd.
At running back, the 49ers will likely be going with a "by-committee" approach as Tevin Coleman will likely be out once again this week. They were led by Matt Breida last week as he ran for 121 yards on 12 carries against the Bengals. He will share the workload this week with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.
49ers defense looks to put pressure on Rudolph
In my opinion, the 49ers have one of the most underrated front sevens in football, especially with their defensive line. This group should be fired up this week as they will be facing a new quarterback in Mason Rudolph. Their defensive line is led by defensive end Dee Ford (if he can play), along with Arik Armstead at the other end, along with DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day at the tackles. Rookie Nick Bosa and former first-round pick Solomon Thomas also play key roles as rotational players. Behind them, former Buccaneer Kwon Alexander leads the linebacker group, along with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.
If this group can get pressure on Rudolph, it could be a long day for the Steelers.
In the secondary, Richard Sherman may not be what he used to be, but he is still a solid option at corner. He is joined by Ahkello Witherspoon, along with Tarvarius Moore and Jaquiski Tartt. Jimmie Ward will also play a role as a rotational player in the secondary and K'Waun Williams will see playing time as the nickel.
As I mentioned earlier, this should be a very interesting/close match up. I think these two quarterbacks will have a very good battle with each other. However, I think the Steelers' secondary with new free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick step up and make some key stops against Garoppolo in this one. On the other side, I think Rudolph does a great job of managing this game and will make the big plays when we need him to. I have the Steelers pulling away late and winning this one 27-17.