It’s the marquee matchup of the week and it’s being played on the game’s biggest stage, Monday Night Football. Both teams are 10-3 and need a win for playoff positioning…so what’s not to like about tonight’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two of the stars for each team are banged up. Ben Roethlisberger will play despite his high ankle sprain, but Patrick Willis is inactive (hamstring). Here are the inactives for both teams.
49ers inactives – QB Scott Tolzien, WR Braylon Edwards, CB Tramaine Brock, FB Moran Norris, LB Patrick Willis T Mike Person, DT Ian Williams
Steelers inactives – CB Curtis Brown, C Maurkice Pouncey, LB Chris Carter, DE Al Woods, OT Jamon Merdith, WR Emmanuel Sanders
I spoke with Ted Robinson before the game about the impact some of the injuries will have on tonight’s game. Here’s our Teddy Football podcast.
It was certainly an interesting start for the game as the power went out in Candlestick. After roughly a 20 minute delay, the lights came back on and the Steelers and 49ers took the field with speedy pregame festivities.
Ben Roethlisberger limped to the huddle after the 49ers won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers converted on 3rd and 1, as Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller in the right flat. The Steelers picked up 36 yards after Wallace caught a quick slant and broke the tackle of Culliver. It looked like Bowman may have recovered a fumble, but Harbaugh chose not to challenge it…and the replay may have been inconclusive either way. It worked out well as Carlos Rogers picked up Roethlisberger’s pass in the end zone on the next play and took it back to the 27.
The 49ers picked up a first down as Alex smith hit Vernon Davis on a short cross for a gain of 7. The next first down came via a fly sweep to Ted Ginn. The Steelers had good coverage, but it still moved the chains. The 49ers converted their third first down of the drive as Smith stepped up and hit Williams on an out route inside the Steelers 40. The 49ers picked up their fourth and fifth first downs of the drive thanks to Gore who found daylight behind Joe Staley inside the 15. The 49ers have struggled in the red zone, but Smith kept the drive going, hitting Crabtree for a gain of 12 on 3rd down. But when they got down to the 2, the offense stalled and they had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by David Akers.
49ers 3 – Steelers 0
On 3rd down, the Steelers converted as Roethlisberger hit Brown underneath against the coverage of Culliver. Mendenhall picked up another first down with a physical 8-yard run right up the middle of the 49ers defense. This Steelers drive ended the same as the first…with an interception by the 49ers secondary. This one was by Dashon Goldson and it was his sixth in the last 8 games.
The 49ers ran one more play before the end of the quarter as Smith hit Crabtree (gold cleats and all) for a gain of 9.
Standout Stat: The 49ers had a 17-play opening drive.
Highlight Reel: Dashon Goldson got the 49ers second pick of the game, diving to catch the overthrown pass.
Put it in Perspective: Much has been made of the 49ers struggles in the red zone and it continued on their first drive tonight. They have good field position and need to get seven after moving the ball at will against this Steelers defense.
Vernon Davis picked up another 49ers first down, breaking a tackle and spinning down to the 23. Gore couldn’t haul in a pass on third down and Akers came on for another field goal attempt. Akers connected on the 38-yard attempt and became the 49ers single-season scoring leader with 141 points.
49ers 6 – Steelers 0
The lights went out for a second delay. After about another 20 minutes, the lights came back on and the 49ers jumped offside on the first play. Roethlisberger hit Miller for a first down past midfield and the Steelers have had all the momentum since the delay. The 49ers had the Steelers in a 2nd and 25 when Aldon Smith got a sack…but the Steelers got a first down after Goldson was called for illegal contact. The Steelers crossed midfield once again as Roethlisberger hit Wallace crossing for a gain of 3 and another first down. Wallace was deep on 3rd down, but Roethlisberger’s throw was short and Rogers knocked it away at the goal line. Ginn called for a fair catch at the 12.
Kyle Williams picked up a first down for the 49ers and Alex Smith scrambled and dove for another. The 49ers were backed up after a chop block and couldn’t make up for the 15 yard penalty. Lee’s punt was downed at the 5-yard line.
The Steelers moved the ball right from the start with a 21-yard run by Moore followed by a reception by Brown that got Pittsburgh out to the SF 45. Roethlisberger took one last shot deep and hit Brown, but he was tackled well short of the end zone as time expired.
Standout Stat: The 49ers have two interceptions and have not turned the ball over.
Highlight Reel: Akers hit a 38-yard field goal to become the 49ers single-season scoring leader.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers defense has come up big and the 49ers offense will get the ball to start the second half. They’ve shown that they can move the ball against the Steelers…with the exception of that last drive when they were hurt by the chop block penalty. A strong opening drive will be important to regain their momentum they had in the first quarter.
Ginn returned the kick, but was hauled down at the 9. After a false start, the 49ers went three and out. The 49ers went three and out, but the special teams did a great job to flip field position. Spillman and Gooden closed to make the tackle. Tack on a holding call and the Steelers got the ball at their own 15.
The Steelers picked up one first down, but that would be it as Tarell Brown made a great play to break up the third down pass. Keenan Lewis threw Reggie Smith into Kyle Williams and the Steelers recovered. Pittsburgh was flagged for cheating and the 49ers got the ball. The entire Steelers team came out on to the field after that play for some reason.
Smith threw for Brett Swain and wanted an interference call, but didn’t get one as the 49ers went three and out after getting great field position. Lee’s punt was fair caught at the 10.
Roethlisberger his Miller on a wheel route for a gain of 39 to start the drive. On 3rd and 2, Roethlisberger hit Brown down the right sideline on a back shoulder throw. It was ruled incomplete, but Pittsburgh challenged. The ruling on the field was upheld. Former Niner Shaun Suisham hit a 51-yard field goal to cut the lead in half.
49ers 6 – Steelers 3
Kyle Williams returned the kickoff to the 21. Smith hit Davis on the first play of the drive to pick up 31 yards out past midfield. Smith hit Hunter on a screen pass and the rookie picked up 27. Smith hit Davis on a misdirection. He nearly got in, but the official marked him out of bounds at the 1. It looked very close on replay. The call was upheld, but the 49ers went back to Davis on the next play. Smith faked the handoff and had Davis wide open for a 1-yard touchdown.
49ers 13 – Steelers 3
The 49ers blew the coverage and Roethlisberger hit Cotchery who got all the way down to the SF 30. Roethlisberger was under heavy pressure and just threw it away on 3rd down. Cue Shaun Suisham for another field goal attempt. This one was wide left and the 49ers take over.
The 49ers will have a 3rd and 3 after a hard run by Gore up the right side.
Standout Stat: Vernon Davis has 6 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Highlight Reel: The 21-yard catch by Vernon Davis was fantastic and he nearly got in the end zone. It was about as close as you can get to staying in bounds. It worked out fine for the 49ers who scored on the next play.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers got a much needed touchdown and now it’s in the hands of the defense to hold this two-score lead.
The 49ers went with a run on 3rd and short and were stopped. Culliver downed Lee’s punt at the 8.
Roethlisberger picked up 20 on 3rd and long to keep the drive going. He hit Cotchery down the seam. He was hit immediately by Whitner, but held on for the catch. Aldon Smith dropped Big Ben for the sack and Justin Smith came in to recover. The 49ers got the ball at the 17.
The 49ers offense couldn’t manage a first down and Akers came on for a field goal attempt. The Steelers were called for leaping. Harbaugh accepted the penalty and the 49ers scored on a five-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore.
49ers 20 – Steelers 3
Aldon Smith picked up another sack and forced another Steelers punt.
That’s it for the blog as we have to go down to the field. 49ers need to hang on.
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