This is the live blog for the 49ers 2023 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. I will provide live updates and analysis throughout the game.
8:25 Here are my five keys to a 49ers victory today.
8:35 Inactive for the 49ers: QB Brandon Allen, OL Nick Zakelj, DL Kalia Davis, LB Dee Winters, LB Jalen Graham, TE Brayden Willis, RB Ty Davis-Price
No surprises here. Ty Davis-Price was inactive most of last season when the 49ers other three backs were healthy. Rookie linebackers Dee Winters and Jalen Graham are behind the veterans, and the team elevated Curtis Robinson from the practice squad for today. Robinson is a solid special teams performer.
San Francisco also called up Austin Bryant from the practice squad. Bryant was cut late in the week to make room for Nick Bosa on the 53-man roster. San Francisco added Bryant to the practice squad yesterday and elevated him to the active roster. The presence of five defensive ends suggests Nick Bosa will be on a snap count today.
8:45 Inactive for the Steelers: QB Mason Rudolph, CB Desmond King, T Dylan Cook, WR Gunner Olszewski, NT Armon Watts
Rudolph was the Steelers starting quarterback when these two team last met in 2019.
9:30 Brock Purdy’s ability to get the ball out quickly is a major key for the 49ers today. This could help the offensive line with neutralizing the strong Steelers pass rush.
9:50 Jay Glazer of Fox Sports is reporting the 49ers expect Nick Bosa to play about 30 to 40 snaps today. That would put him around 55% of the defensive snaps, which is what he played in the 2019 season opener after missing most of training camp with an ankle injury.
10:00 Steelers win the toss. They will receive to start the game.
10:05 Great three and out by the 49ers defense to open the game. Clelin Ferrell starts on the edge opposite Nick Bosa. He does a good job of setting the edge against a run on second down to help stop the Steelers runner for a short loss. On third down, Drake Jackson comes in and gets the sack after pressure from Arik Armstead.
10:11 The 49ers offense made that look easy. They go 54 yards on seven plays, Purdy hitting Aiyuk over the middle off play action from eight yards out. Jake Moody splits the uprights on point after and it is 7-0.
San Francisco used 21 personnel, two backs and one tight end, on its first five plays, six of seven on the possession. Purdy hit all three attempts for 25 yards, including an 11-yard connection with George Kittle off play action to convert fourth and one from near midfield.
Christian McCaffrey with a pair of big runs, a toss around the left side for nine and a counter trap up the gut for 17 to help set up the touchdown throw.
10:17 WOW. Charvarius Ward with the interception of Kenny Pickett to give the 49ers the ball at the Steelers 48 yardline. Ward was all over Diontae Johnson. Bad decision by Pickett.
Fred Warner opened the possession by exploding downhill and dropping Najee Harris for a loss of two.
This defense came to play.
10:25 Purdy hits Aiyuk over the middle for 23. A holding penalty on Spencer Burford backs up the 49ers offense and they can’t dig themselves out.
Jake Moody comes on and nails the kick from 41 yards out to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead.
Brock Purdy has been pressured just once on his first seven drop backs. He’s gotten the ball out quickly and the offensive line has done a nice job of holding up during the first two possessions.
10:32 Another quick three and out for the Pittsburgh offense.
The 49ers defensive line has owned the line of scrimmage so far, shutting down the run and getting pressure on Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh currently has -2 yards rushing.
10:41 The first quarter could not have gone better for San Francisco. They have moved the ball efficiently, 118 yards to 2 for Pittsburgh, and completely dominated at the point of attack on both sides of the ball.
10:45 Brock Purdy with a perfect back shoulder throw from 19 yards out for their second touchdown of the day. Purdy is now 10-12 for 114 yards and the there is still 13:30 left to play in the second quarter.
10:52 Every time the Steelers offense looks up there is a 49ers defender right in their face. Clelin Ferrell nearly gets a sack on Pickett, his pressure leading to what should have been an interception for Fred Warner. Pressure on Pickett forces him to take off up the middle but Drake Jackson is there for his second clean up sack of the day.
11:05 Four possessions. Four scores for the 49ers offense to open the season.
After taking over at midfield, Purdy connects quickly with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to get the ball inside the Steelers redzone. T.J. Watt finally makes his presence felt from there, getting pressure on the 49ers quarterback leading to the first sack of the game.
Jake Moody comes on and hits from 32-yards out to give the 49ers a 20 point lead.
11:09 Five possessions for Pittsburgh. Five three and outs for the 49ers defense. The Steelers have 1 yard of total offense in the first half.
11:26 The 49ers offense is finally stopped. San Francisco moved the ball from their own 24 to the Steelers 37 before the drive stalls. Purdy with three straight incompletions as the Steelers pass rush has begun to assert itself. A pair of pressures playing a big role in those incompletions.
11:37 San Francisco’s first defensive line has dominated. They go out for a few plays and Pittsburgh moves the ball. The starters come out, instant pressure on Pickett.
11:40 Pittsburgh ends the half with a 95-yard drive, Pickett hitting tight end Pat Freiermuth from 3 yards out for a touchdown. The Steelers had been held to one yard of offense before that possession.
San Francisco kneels to end the half. 49ers lead 20-7, and will get the ball to open the second half.
11:54 First half totals:
Brock Purdy 14-21, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns
49ers offense ran 17 times for 68 yards. Brandon Aiyuk had five catches on five targets, 76 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Two sacks by Drake Jackson. Arik Armstead and Clelin Ferrell also had quarterback hits.
222 yards of total offense for San Francisco. 76 yards for Pittsburgh.
11:58 It takes just two plays for the 49ers to take back any momentum Pittsburgh had from their touchdown to end the first half.
Purdy opens with a 10-yard completion to open the half. On the next play, Christian McCaffrey goes 65 yards over the left side for a touchdown. Terrific blocks down field from Ray-Ray McCloud and Brandon Aiyuk to help lead McCaffrey into the endzone.
12:06 Pittsburgh opens the second half with a throw for a first down. From there the 49ers defense holds. Their defensive line is going to be a major problem this season.
12:11 Brock Purdy is so good in the intermediate, 10-19 yards past the line of scrimmage, area of the field. He hits Aiyuk for gains of 16 and 15, but Colton McKivitz gets beat around the edge by T.J. Watt for a sack to end the 49ers possession.
12:18 The 49ers hold Pittsburgh to their sixth three and out in eight possessions, and the offense will take over at the 38 after a good return by Ray-Ray McCloud.
12:20 T.J. Watt beats McKivitz around the edge for the second consecutive play. Purdy loses the ball and Pittsburgh will take over in 49ers territory.
San Francisco had a lot of success early with Purdy getting the ball out quick. As the game has gone on he has been holding onto the ball and the pressure has come with it.
12:28 Pittsburgh’s offense gets down to the 49ers eight, but cannot cash in. Pickett’s throw on fourth down misses everyone.
San Francisco needs to put together a long drive here to finish off this game.
12:33 End of the third quarter, the 49ers lead 27-7.
12:40 San Francisco is able to eat 4:18 off the clock, but Purdy’s throw to McCaffrey in the right flat is off the mark. More importantly, left tackle Trent Williams was forced from the game with an injury. The 49ers badly need him to stay healthy. He was replaced by Jaylon Moore.
12:45 Tip drill! Fred Warner gets his hands on Kenny Pickett’s throw down the middle, and Talanoa Hufanga is there to get the interception. San Francisco’s defense has been lights out today.
12:54 Jake Moody, everyone’s favorite draft pick, has been perfect today. He hits from 40-yards out to give San Francisco a 30-7 lead.
1:02 Drake Jackson with his third sack of the day. Ties his season total from last year.
1:09 49ers win 30-7, start 1-0 for just the third time under Kyle Shanahan.