This is the live blog for the 49ers Week 15 Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I’ll be updating this frequently from my friend’s house in the Oakland Hills. I’m not at the game because the entire Cohn Zohn got salmonella last night and I have a 102 degree fever, plus the power’s out in my neighborhood. I thought I’d be late starting this blog, but Candlestick Park had a power outage, too, so we’re good to go.
5:58 The Niners won the toss and deferred possession to the second half. No surprise there.
5:59 Antonio Brown returns the kickoff from the back of the end zone to the PITT 30.
6:00 On first down Ray McDonald tackles Rashard Mendenhall after a gain of one.
6:01 Roethlisberger completes a screen pass to Mendenhall, who breaks a tackle and picks up seven yards. Third and two.
6:02 Roethlisberger completes a quick out to Heath Miller for a gain of three and a first down.
6:02 Ray McDonald tackles Mendenhall after a gain of two. Second and eight.
6:03 Roethlisberger completes a quick pass to Mike Wallace on a slant, Chris Culliver and Reggie Smith miss tackles and the play picks up 48 yards.
6:04 Mendenhall runs up the middle and gains three. He lost the ball at the end of the play but he knee was down.
6:05 Carlos Rogers picks off Roethlisberger in the end zone and returns the ball to the SF 27. Roethlisberger was throwing to Wallace again on a slant, and this time Rogers undercut the route and easily picked the pass off.
6:07 On first down Gore runs up the middle and gains three yards.
6:08 The Steelers blitz up the middle, the Niners pick it up and Alex Smith completes a pass to Vernon Davis on a crossing route for seven yards and a first down.
6:09 Smith rolls right and connects with Crabtree on the sideline for a gain of five. Second and five at the SF 43.
6:10 Ted Ginn Jr. takes a fly sweep left for six yards and another first down.
6:10 Smith throws a strike to Gore on a quick out and Gore drops the pass. He’s had a poor year catching passes.
6:11 Gore takes a draw up the middle for five. Third and five.
6:11 The Steelers blitz one linebacker up the middle, the Niners pick it up and Smith completes an out to the left to Kyle Williams for eight yards and a first down.
6:12 Smith completes another quick out to Kyle Williams, this time for a six yard gain. The play looked the same as the last one. Second and four.
6:13 The Steelers get penetration into the backfield but Gore runs off left tackle and gains five yards and first down.
6:13 Bruce Miller lays a strong block and Gore runs off left tackle for 13 yards. First and ten at the Pit 19.
6:14 The Steelers blitz up the middle, the Niners do not pick it up this time and Smith throws off his back foot low to his hot receiver, Vernon Davis. Incomplete.
6:15 Kendall Hunter runs up the middle for no gain. Bad red zone play call by Greg Roman there.
6:15 Smith completes an out to Crabtree on the right sideline for a gain of 12 and a first down. First and goal at the Pit 3.
6:16 Gore runs up the middle and gets hit in the backfield for a loss of two. Adam Snyder couldn’t hold his block.
6:17 Smith buys time in the pocket and throws behind a wide open Kyle Williams in the end zone. Incomplete.
6:18 Polamalu blitzes off the right edge, no one touches him and Smith has to the throw the ball right away. Gore was wide open but Smith missed him in the right flat.
6:18 David Akers makes the 22-yard field goal. 3-0 Niners with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
6:21 Touchback Akers.
6:23 Mendenhall takes a draw up the middle for four before Isaac Sopoaga tackles him.
6:24 Roethlisberger overthrows Mike Wallace down the left sideline, who had beaten Tarell Brown by a couple steps. Third and six.
6:24 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Antonio Brown on a slant before Ray McDonald can hit him in the pocket. Gain of seven and first down.
6:25 Mendenhall runs off right tackle for three before Ahmad Brooks tackles him.
6:26 Mendenhall cuts back to the right behind the line of scrimmage and gains eight. First down.
6:27 Roethlisberger hits Antonio Brown in the hands on a slant but Brown drops the pass. If he had caught that, he would have broke away for a touchdown. Big break there for the Niners.
6:28 Roethlisberger has all day to throw but he still overthrows Heath Miller down the middle of the field, Dashon Goldson makes a diving interception and returns it 21 yards to the Pit 45.
6:30 On first down Smith rolls left and completes a short pass to Crabtree for nine yards.
6:33 Bruce Miller runs up the middle, gets hit in the backfield but powers forward for three yards and first down.
6:33 Gore runs up the middle for three yards.
6:34 The Steelers blitz two extra rushers on the right side of the Niners line and the Niners don’t pick it up. Smith throws the ball out of bounds.
6:35 Smith completes a pass to Vernon Davis in the right flat. Davis breaks one tackle and lunges forward for a seven yard gain and another Niners first down.
6:36 Smith fakes a handoff to Gore and overthrows an open Crabtree on the left sideline. That’s another missed touchdown.
6:37 Gore runs up the middle to the Pit 20 for a three yard gain. Third and seven.
6:38 The Steelers overload blitz the right side of the Niners line again, Smith throws a strike to Gore in the left flat and Gore drops another one.
6:38 David Akers makes the 38 yard field goal. 6-0 Niners with 12:18 left in the second quarter.
6:41 Touchback No. 2 for Akers.
6:44 And the power’s out again.
6:59 The power’s back, and Ray McDonald jumps offside. Five yard penalty.
7:00 Roethlisberger completes a checkdown pass to Mendenhall for 13 yards and a first down.
7:00 Mendenhall runs up the middle for seven.
7:01 Mendenhall runs off right tackle for two. Third and one.
7:01 Roethlisberger completes a short pass to Heath Miller over the middle for five yards and a first down.
7:02 Isaac Redman gains six but the Steelers were holding. First and 20 at the Pit 42.
7:03 Roethlisberger completes an out to Cotchery on the right sideline for about a ten yard gain, but the Steelers get called for illegal formation. First and 25.
7:04 Roethlisberger sidesteps pressure and throws the ball out of bounds.
7:05 Aldon Smith sacks Roethlisberger, but the Niners get called for an illegal contact penalty downfield. First and ten.
7:06 Roethlisbeger completes a pass to Wallace for seven.
7:07 Mendenhall runs up the middle for one before Ahmad Brooks tackles him. Third and two.
7:07 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Wallace on a shallow cross for three yards and a first down.
7:08 Roethlisberger throws the ball into the ground before Justin Smith can sack him. Harbaugh leaps in the air at the bottom of the TV screen – he clearly wanted an intentional grounding call.
7:09 Larry Grant leaps and almost intercepts Roethlisberger on a pass over the middle. Third and ten.
7:10 Tarell Brown blitzes, Roethlisberger steps up and throws deep to Wallace in double coverage. Rogers and Whitner play the pass well and it falls incomplete.
7:10 The Steelers punt and Ginn Jr. fields a fair catch at the SF 12.
7:13 Smith fakes a handoff and throws a strike to Vernon Davis on a crossing route but Ryan Clark knocked the pass away.
7:14 Gore runs up the middle for two yards. Third and eight.
7:15 Smith completes a 10 yard pass to Kyle Williams on a hook route on the right sideline for a first down.
7:16 Smith throws another strike that Vernon Davis doesn’t catch. Second and ten.
7:16 Smith steps up and scrambles for 14 yards. First and ten.
7:17 Jonathan Goodwin false starts. First and 15.
7:17 Smith takes a five-step drop and completes a 14 yard pass to Ginn Jr. on a hook route on the right sideline. Second and one.
7:19 Gore runs up the middle for six. First and ten at the Pit 47.
Two minute warning
7:21 Smith overthrows Delanie Walker deep down the left sideline on a wheel route.
7:22 Smith completes a quick pass to Walker, but it’s coming back due to a 15-yard chop block penalty by Gore. That looks like a bad call. Second and 25.
7:23 Gore takes a draw up the middle for four yards. Third and 21.
7:26 Smith sidesteps pressure and completes a pass to Kyle Williams on a crossing route for nine yards. Andy Lee punts to the Pit 5.
7:29 Moore gains 20 yards on a draw run. NaVorro Bowman missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage.
7:30 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Brown on a short crossing route and Brown turns it up field for another 20-yard gain.
7:31 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Wallace on a dig route for seven yards. They’re going no huddle.
7:31 Larry Grant deflects the pass to Wallace on a slant. Incomplete. Third and three.
7:32 Justin Smith gets a running start on his pass rush but Roethlisberger gets the ball out lightning quick and completes a short pass to Brown on the left sideline for five yards. Timeout Niners.
7:33 Roethlisberger checks down to Moore for a gain of seven.
7:34 Roethlisberger checks down to Moore again, this time for a two-yard loss. He runs out of bounds with four seconds left in the half. The Steelers want to go for it, and the Niners take their second timeout of the first half.
7:36 Roethlisberger completes a back shoulder pass to Brown for 24 yards and the half ends.
7:54 The Niners go three and out on their first drive of the second half. Lee punts 61 yards to Brown. The Steelers get called for a holding penalty, and they’ll start their drive at their 16 yard line.
7:57 Ted Ginn Jr. has an ankle injury and his return is questionable.
7:58 Mendenhall runs a weakside counter for ten yards.
7:58 Mendenhall runs off right tackle for a one-yard loss.
7:59 Roethlisberger misses Antonio Brown over the middle. Incomplete.
7:59 On third and 11 Tarell Brown bats a pass away from Mike Wallace. Good play by Brown.
8:00 Kyle Williams drops the punt and the Steelers recover, but the Steelers get called for punt interference on Williams. Fifteen yard penalty, first down.
8:04 Gore runs up the middle for two.
8:04 The Steelers blitz and Smith completes a pass to his hot route receiver, Vernon Davis, on a slant for five yards.
8:05 Smith throws a strike to Swain on a short slant but the Steelers secondary plays it well and knocks the pass away.
8:06 Lee punts to Brown who makes the fair catch at the Pit 10.
8:09 Roethlisberger completes a 40 yard pass to Heath Miller on a wheel route. Ahmad Brooks got beaten on the play.
8:10 Redman gets no gain off right tackle.
8:10 Grant blitzes but gets blocked, and then Roethlisberger completes an out pass to Miller on the right sideline for 11 yards. First down.
8:11 Now the Steelers center false starts. First and fifteen.
8:11 Mendenhall runs off right tackle for eleven. Larry Grant got blocked to spark the big gain.
8:12 Justin Smith tackles Mendenhall after two yards. Third and two.
8:13 Roethlisberger throws a back-shoulder pass to Antonio Brown deep down the right sideline and the refs say he doesn’t get his second foot down. The Steelers are challenging, and to me it seems like a good challenge for them. Brown seemed to graze the big toe of a his second foot in bounds.
8:16 They confirm the call on the field because Brown’s right hand hit out of bounds. Good call. Fourth and two at the SF 33.
8:17 Suisham barely keeps a 51-yard field goal inside the right goal post. 6-3 Niners with 6:13 left in the third quarter.
8:20 Kyle Williams returns the kickoff to the SF 20.
8:21 Smith throws off his back foot to Vernon Davis deep down the middle on a seam and hits him for a 31 yard gain. Beautfiul pass – great touch.
8:22 Smith fakes a handoff and throws deep down the right sideline for Williams but misses him. Delanie Walker was holding, anyway. 10-yard penalty.
8:23 Smith completes a pass in the right flat to Crabtree. Gain of nine. Second and 11.
8:23 From the shotgun Smith completes a screen pass to Kendall Hunter for a gain of 27. And I didn’t even have to call Roman to tell him to call that. That was all him!
8:24 Smith rolls right and throws back to his left for Vernon Davis. Another perfect touch pass, Davis catches it and runs into the end zone for a touchdown. The refs said Davis’ foot was out of bounds at the one yard line but Harbaugh’s challenging. It looks like he kept his foot in bounds to me.
8:28 When they stop the film and zoom in, it looks like Davis did slightly step out of bounds.
8:28 The refs confirm the call. First and goal from the one.
8:29 Smith fakes a handoff and hits Vernon Davis in the end zone for a touchdown. Great play call by Roman. 13-3 Niners. He called a good drive in general. And Smith made two outstanding passes, too. His QB rating has climbed to 88.5.
8:31 Brown returns the kickoff to the Pit 20.
8:32 Quick reflection – it’s almost like Greg Roman saved the seam to V.D. and the screen to Hunter and the play action to V.D. in the red zone all season for this game.
8:33 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Brown for four yards.
8:33 Mendenhall cuts back and gains 10 yards.
8:34 Roethlisberger hits Cotchery on a wheel route for 36 yards. No huddle time.
8:34 Grant tackles Redman at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Strong tackle.
8:35 Aldon Smith hits Roethlisberger as he throws over the middle, and Grant knocks the pass away. Third and ten.
8:36 Aldon Smith gets his hands on Roethlisberger and he throws the ball away deep down the field. Then Gruden compares Smith to Charles Haley.
8:36 Suisham hooks a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left. The Steelers are in a lot of trouble. 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
8:37 Gore runs a sweep left and loses five yards. Bad play call.
8:38 Gore runs off right tackle for 12 yards. Good call and execution. Third and three.
8:41 Gore runs off left guard for no gain.
8:42 Lee punts it to the Pit 8.
8:44 Roethlisberger overthrows Miller on a quick screen. Could have been a big gain – Miller had Grant beaten.
8:45 Dashon Goldson tackles Brown after a quick pass from Roethlisberger. Gain of five.
8:45 Brown false starts. Third and ten.
8:46 Roethlisberger hits Cotchery on a back-shoulder seam for 20 yards.
8:47 Bowman tackles Mendenhall after a one yard gain. Bad play call by Pit there.
8:47 Roethlisberger tries to run away from Aldon Smith but fails. Smith lifts him up and puts him on his back, and as he’s going down Justin Smith knocks the ball away. Niners ball at the Pit 17.
8:49 Gore up the middle for two yards.
8:49 The Steelers blitz, Smith hits Kendall Hunter in the flat right away and Ryan Clark tackles him for a three yard loss.
8:50 Smith completes a quick pass to Swain at the line of scrimmage on a wide receiver screen. Swain runs for nine yards.
8:51 David Akers makes a field goal but the Steelers get called for leaping, an unsportsmanlike penalty. Half the distance to the goal. First and goal at the five.
8:52 Smith runs the sprint right option and throws the ball out of bounds.
8:53 Gore runs a counter to the weakside and he makes it into the end zone easily. Great play call and execution. 20-3 Niners.
8:56 On the kick return Delanie Walker blasts Brown at the Pit 14.
8:58 Roethlisberger completes an 8 yard pass to Cotchery over the middle.
9:00 Joe Staley has a leg injury and he’s questionable to return.
9:01 Aldon Smith sacks Roethlisberger again – this time on a stunt to the inside.
9:02 Haralson comes free on a blitz and Roethlisberger throws the ball out of bounds. Aldon Smith hits Ben after the play.
9:02 Kyle Williams makes a fair catch on a punt at the SF 47.
9:03 Anthony Dixon runs up the middle but gains no yards.
9:04 Dixon runs off right guard for three.
9:05 Hunter runs off right tackle for two more. Fourth and five.
9:05 Lee punts to Brown who makes the fair catch at the Pit 14.
9:06 Now the Steelers get called for a chop block. First and 17.
9:07 Roethlisberger completes a pass to Wallace on a slant. Gain of 13. Second and 4.
9:08 And Aldon Smith sacks Roethlisberger again on a stunt. He’s the MVP of the game. His 12 sacks in his rookie season ties Haley for the rookie record.
9:09 Roethlisberger completes a 21 yard pass and then a 24 yard pass. First and ten at the SF 42.
9:10 Grant bats away a pass over the middle.
9:11 Roethlisberger throws deep to Wallace, Brown – alone in man coverage – plays the pass perfectly and picks it off in the end zone. The refs say Brown was down at the two, and Harbaugh’s challenging.
9:15 The refs confirm their call and Harbaugh snorts in disdain. Niners ball at their 2 yard line.
9:16 Dixon runs up the middle for three yards.
9:16 Dixon runs off right guard for four yards. Two good, tough runs back-to-back for Dixon.
9:18 Dixon up the middle for two. Fourth and one, and Lee’s in to punt from the end zone.
9:19 Lee punts to Brown and Brown runs at least ten yards backward before getting tackled. Plus a ten-yard block in the back penalty. Pittsburgh will start from their 12 yard line.
9:20 Roethlisberger hits Cotchery on a quick slant for nine.
Two minute warning
9:22 Roethlisberger misses low to Wallace on another slant. Third and one.
9:23 From the shotgun the center snaps the ball over Roethlisberger’s head. He falls on it for a loss of ten. Fourth and 11. The Steelers punt and Kyle Williams makes the fair catch at midfield.
9:25 Alex Smith takes a knee. The Niners man up big-time and win 20-3.
9:27 Please forgive me, I’m going to sleep and I will write my grades first thing in the morning. This fever wiped me out.