Statement game: Beating Steelers would be huge for 49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks to hand off the ball during the first half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

SANTA CLARA — If the 49ers beat the Steelers, we’ll know the 49ers are a good team, maybe a playoff team. If they lose to the Steelers, we’ll know the 49ers haven’t arrived yet.

Statement game.

The 49ers’ record is 2-0, but they haven’t beaten a good team. They’ve beaten the Buccaneers and Bengals, two perennial losers.

The Steelers’ record is 0-2, they’re 6½-point underdogs and they don’t have their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. He’s out for the year with an elbow injury.

But the Steelers have played two perennial winners — the Patriots and Seahawks. No shame in losing to them. And the Steelers’ offense played better after Roethlisberger injured himself last week — he looked like he was in serious pain.

And the Steelers haven’t had a losing season since 2003. They’re one of the toughest, most consistent teams in the NFL, and they’re not rebuilding. In fact, they just traded their first-round draft pick in 2020 for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. They expect to win. They won’t beat themselves like the Bucs did Week 1, or quit at halftime like the Bengals did last week.

“We’ve got to come out just as hungry as Pittsburgh,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “I know it’s going to be an extremely hard, physical game.”

Here are the five biggest challenges the 49ers will face against the Steelers.

This article has 97 Comments

  1. Garoppolo will get hit hard, throw a couple picks and the 49ers will lose 20-16.

    Is this your actual prediction Grant, or is this your take IF Skule does indeed struggle to protect Jimmy’s blind side?

    Personally, I think the Steelers will cover the spread, but end up losing a slightly higher scoring game, by a margin of just over a field goal. I think this game is winnable for the NINERS of a final score of 24-20.

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  2. Grant basically reviewed what he said in his periscope.
    Here is my response, again.
    1. Mason may want to act like Minshew, but he will get a jar. Saleh will dial up some exotic blitzes, and the 4 man pass rush will give Rudolf a red nose. Untested first year QB? Expect a severe test.
    The biggest matchup is not QBs, it is KS against Tomlin. Who will have the better game plan, and who can make the timely adjustments?
    2. The Niners should copy the Pats, and put a shadow on Ju Ju with their best CB. It may be Ward, but I am hoping Verrett can play. If healthy, he is a shut down CB.
    3, Running the ball will not be easy, but with their 2 TE sets, they can run outside. The Steeler D is big and tough, but they are not cat quick. The Steelers may want to stack the box, but the Niners should spread them wide, and do bubble screens, fly sweeps and attack the edges. Once the Niners succeed in spreading them out, they should gash them up the middle with Wilson.
    4. Skule is the weak link. KS should help Skule by lining Toilolo up next to him, to help chip the edge rusher. Toilolo was brought in to be a blocker, and had an elite level pass blocking grade of 87.1 in 2018. The best way to help Skule, is to establish a running game. Then he will not have to pass protect as much. Skule is a much better run blocker, so they should play to his strengths. On pass plays, like Grant says, they should roll JG to the right.
    5. They want to test JG? Good. JG will slice and dice them. Toilolo helping in the pass blocking, and Kittle downfield over the middle making catches, will be a hard combination to defeat. I could see Deebo turning the corner after another fly sweep.
    However, JG will excel if he gets the ball in the hands of Breida and Mostert. Handing off for those OZ runs will be the first thing the Steelers will scheme against, but the counters and misdirections will have them whiffing. Maybe another screen pass will result in a TD.
    Yes, this will be a test of JG. I hope he has better ball security, and can throw downfield for 3 TDs. If he does that, he will ace his test.

    1. There are a lot of variables in this game, no question about that. Most important of all, Pittsburgh has their backs against the wall, and are literally fighting to save their season.

      Do you want to make a final score prediction, sebnynah?

    2. Herr Professor Doktor Weiss’ reputation was established when he conclusively proved the fraudulency of the Mayan codex that claimed to show that ancient people knew the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter to an exactitude unknown until modern times, in his treatise, “Bye, Bye, Mesoamerican Pi. [blfc]

    3. Thanks for the regurgitation and daily does of drivel SlebRaider and resident Pinata Boy.. Your analysis is quite analytically superficial and stunningly drab.
      Go Frisco….38 – 17

        1. SlebRaider the Pinata Boy…good morning how are you??? taking a break from trimming your girls?

  3. Tbh I only think this is a statement game if the 49ers lose – and in that case the statement is they probably aren’t ready to be contenders yet.

    Even if the 49ers win big there will still be valid question marks. They still won’t have faced a top QB. And while the Steelers have been good for a long time they aren’t the team they used to be. The D has been pretty ordinary for a few years, particularly the pass D. Having Big Ben, AB and Le’veon Bell helped mask some of those deficiencies but all three are now gone and that is very hard to overcome.

    This is a game the 49ers should win if they are genuinely a playoff team.

    1. I’m kind of in line with you here.
      Imo, this game will come down to line play and mistakes ie turnovers and missed tackles. SF should win if they are even in the mistakes and not dominated up front imo.

    2. Well said Scooter…I think if its close its Pitts….if team plays as they should 38 17 Frisco in for the win= shouldn’t be close, Pitt is depleted…

  4. I agree with a lot of what you said except Tampa bay not being good. They are very good. Their defense is legit. After we beat them they went on a short week and beat the panthers in Carolina (no easy task) and looked just as good. We are just better, the talent we have on defense is ridiculous. With weatherspoon playing at an ELITE level we’ll be tough to beat

    1. It’s way too early to jump to those conclusions. Carolina played the Rams tough but Cam Newton is hurting and is not playing well. It’s too early to say that the Bucs are very good. Witherspoon is looking much improved and has been playing well but again…. it is too early to say that he is an elite player. Two games does not a season make! (Shakespeare?)

    1. They take their football very seriously.

      We complain about 85 degree weather. It’s no wonder we are laughingstock to a lot of fan bases.

  5. This is an important game for the defense. No reason for the offense to struggle. Staleys absence will be felt but it’s not enough to derail the entire game plan. What I want to see is if Saleh and this defense can take advantage of a rookies first start. Can they create confusion and pressure?

    This shouldn’t be a close game. It’ll be telling if it is.

    1. This shouldn’t be a close game. It’ll be telling if it is.

      In other words, Grant is half cocked?

  6. There will be much rejoicing in IT49ers land if Grants prediction comes true. weToldYouSo-ism will be rampant. Calls for Salehs head again, Shanny the overrated OC, bench Jaws for the kid who knows the playbook, $5 dollar stadium beers!

    1. Rib=funny chit LOL…..if JimmyP aka Jaws lays an egg it will be very messy round here… least we can beat up Pinata Boy

      1. More swings and misses. Too bad you do not see how you look to others.
        You hate Jed with a passion, exults in calling this team the Frisco Niners, and think JG is a pornstar.
        Just another Niner hating troll who acts like a fan, but we know your real agenda.

        1. SlebRaider aka Pinata Boy….when he is not Jealous and bashing long time fans he= is in his happy pot garden being a rainbow snowflake…..go play with your Unicorn

            1. These trolls are missing big time Seb…you a true homer 49er fan, farthest thing from a Raider fan. These 49ers haters can eat crow.

          1. Side note: Quinnen Williams is injured again and still hasn’t shown up on the stat sheet. Josh Allen has two sacks to Nick Bosa’s one but also has played in three games and has a higher snap count per game. Would love to see Bosa get a couple sacks today! So far, he’s living up to my expectations.

  7. And this from Antonio Brown…


    Will not be playing in the @NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the @NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up !

  8. But the Steelers have played two perennial winners — the Patriots and Seahawks. No shame in losing to them.

    The Steelers looked about as bad as Miami in getting annihilated by the Pats, there is plenty shame in that. And barely losing to the Seahawks? The same can be said for your “bad “ team the Bengals, Grant. And lose to them at home? Hell, Niners beat the playoff bound Seahawks last season with their 3rd string QB.

    They may have 45 year history, but so do the Niners and that hasn’t helped them recently, has it? The Steelers are a bad team, statistically and in results, bleeding talent. This game will not be close.

    1. I am with ya Ribico….not unless JimmyP lays an egg…..lets hope he is on point again….38-17 Frisco

  9. Im going to have to pick my niners on this on i believe momentum and the hype is all in the favor of my gold rush cats in looking for kittle to have a big day in the air and im looking for two picks and a couple of sack to top off the steel curtain beautiful day today at levi ? Stadium go niners for life baby……………..

  10. Looking at past history, the Steelers stopped the Niners from becoming the second team to go undefeated in 1984.
    How did they slow the Niner juggernaut? By doing the unexpected. They used trap blocks.
    I hope the Niner coaches have prepared for every contingency.

    1. They used trap blocks. which in 84 was quite innovative….here we are SlebRaider its 2019 .. do you think this will surprise anybody?? I do not think that will be the key whatsoever..

            1. Hi this is me looking tough in my favorite cowgirl hat and janky mustache. What do you boys think of me?

    2. Good gawd! Trap blocks were introduced in the 1920s for the Single Wing offenses!
      Yeah, really innovative in the modern game. Maybe someone will try the radical new fangled Forward Pass as well. Nobody will see that coming. Perhaps the Flying Wedge…….?
      Football acumen at it’s finest.

      1. The Steelers are desperate. Desperate teams may do desperate things.
        Another thing the Niners should be wary of. Ben was a statue, but Rudolph seems to be more mobile. The Niners should contain him in the pocket, with delayed blitzes up the middle.

          1. And you cannot think of anything to say about this team, so you devolve into ad hominem attacks.
            I am so impressed.

            1. Some guys are ‘empty suits.’ You’re empty bib overalls. LOL LMAO heheeh

              Oh the humanities….maybe Pinata Boy should go back to his trimming job

              1. By the way Grant is it okay to promote my new Ogasawara Manscaping business?

                It seemed like a natural progression from landscaping, and I do love the boys up here north of the city.

      2. Franklin, that’s your problem. You don’t think and use innovation of repetition. They need to regress to progress. You’re just mired in the today! Embrace the yesterday! Heck, they should bundle Thomas, Armistead and Mullen’s to NE for Tom Brady! Sweeten the deal with Staley!

        It’s fortunate that this blog has one of the most innovative and regressive minds in football today. We should relish his production (or just scroll past it, like someone stepping over ? on the street).

  11. Whose who?

    Perennial losers. Since 2011 Niners been to the playoffs three times, the Bengals five times. In the last four years the Bengals have won 31 games the Niners 17.

      1. I am not the one calling the Bengals a perennial loser…

        “things change bro”

        really, are you sure?

        1. Did you just elevate this team by insulting it too? ?

          Careful UC, you might be inadvertently be labeled a hater.

          1. Sour – I did, I sure as heck did. :) I am trying to complicate simple. Haters nah, no haters on this blog.

  12. This reminds me of the 2017 end of the season run in which every game was nothing to gain and everything to lose for Jimmy G. Then after every win there was some absurd justification like Jags were bored , Panthers were tired etc.

  13. A Grant retweet… Kinda like Grant’s Battle Hymn Of The Republic. Provides a bounce in every step Grant takes…

    Brandon Warne

    Also: asking only questions people want to answer isn’t journalism.

    Like the old saying goes:

    “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.”

    1. Retweet this Grant.

      Frank Zappa:

      ( Rock ) journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.

      Frank inadvertently limited that to rock.

  14. Tune out the noise. Do your job to the best of your abilities. Make this game a reaffirmation of the first two, and let the fans, Grant Cohn, Jack Hammer, Sour Yeast , and the whole world know, Shanny’s little 49ers are Back In The Saddle Again….

      1. “…some if’s to be answered…”

        What Hammer and I have stated for some time. Grant has made similar remarks.

        1. The only difference is my if’s are filling the glass and your guys ifs is emptying the glass. My glass has a crack in it so I am ready for it start leaking. In other words everything is great till it isn’t.

          1. Ok. You haven’t seen the massive gash in that glass of yours for the last 20 years? It’s called the York fissure.

  15. Typical Coach “root for a tumor” piece as I call it, borrowing once again from GC. Shocker! In “Little Cohnesque” fashion, he downplays victories (similar to 2017’s 5-0 finish). He’s dying for them to lose. It would help catapult his “negative schtick” for a couple of weeks at least. Everybody knows that. In typical “Little Cohn” seventh grade level journalism, which has the depth of one of my grandkids kiddy pools, he basically evades anything positive about the Niners, especially their defense, other than who’s going to cover Juju, or any other strength that could lead to victory. Nope little man, I think your going to be wrong today. So far this season I’m 4-0 in bets involving the spread and O/U with the Niners. It will continue today, much to your disappointment.

    I took the Niners -6/1/2 and the over (44)

    SF 27 PITT 20

    Sorry Coach. Your gonna have to dig up some positive’s from your archives, it you have any, the for the next two week, at least!

  16. If we lose it won’t be because of jimmy. It will be due to our defense and o line. Our defense hasn’t played against s good o line so I don’t not expect much pressure. Buckner will get maybe two tackles and get shut out while bosa will be non effective two weeks in a row. Or corners have always been trash and it’s no different. We played a trash qb week 1 and played against no AJ green week two so our secondary is fools Gold right now. Steelers o line gonna punish our small front 7. Meanwhile our o line had been garbage in the interior. Couple that with two tackles, one of which is a 6th round whatever, that are suspect in pass blocking, gonna have jimmy on his toes all game. If we eek this one out I’ll be shocked.

  17. Would be interesting to learn what Rocket and Brotha Tuna are thinking about today’s game. And htwaits too…

  18. Moncrief inactive…

    Ian Rapoport

    Ooooh boy. @MikeGarafolo reports that #Steelers WR Donte Moncrief will be inactive this week after a rough last week. A full youth movement in Pittsburgh.

  19. Looks like the guy who angrily called out the billions of robot morons is having a good time (so far…).

    Joe Shasky

    THE VIBE IS ALREADY UNREAL ?????????????@49ers @LevisStadium

  20. This is only a statement game if the 49ers blow out or get blown out by the Steelers. The statement game will be the one against the Rams.

    1. Lamar Jackson is who we thought he was. Shut down by that juggernaut KC D. I’d have thought the Harbaugh bros learned their lesson with Kaepernick.

  21. Agree Mid. Division games are all statement games. All of them, especially when the Niners have been the weak red headed step child amongst their division opponents over the last few years. They’re gonna finish 10-6. The only statement today is do they need to finish the rest of the season 8-5, or 7-6. I say 7-6. That will give coach plenty of negative fodder for the remaining schedule, pontificating that the once 3-0 Niners finished weak at one game above .500. Lol. So predictable.

  22. Do you hear the robots sing? Think Les Mis…

    Do you hear the robots sing?
    Singing the song of moron fans?
    Tis the music of a billion homers
    Not to be duped by haters again!

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