49ers Report Card

Grading 49ers' offense, defense in big Week 1 win over Steelers

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PITTSBURGH — Coach Kyle Shanahan placed an emphasis on the 49ers getting off to a fast start to the 2023 NFL season.

After all, the 49ers missed out on the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs last year by one game.

A season-opening loss to the lowly Chicago Bears and another Week 3 loss to the Denver Broncos, ultimately led to a more-difficult 49ers' postseason road.

The 49ers did not get off to a slow start this season, that’s for sure.

“I think it was exactly how we wanted to come out,” linebacker Fred Warner said following the 49ers' 30-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

The 49ers controlled the game from start to finish to pull out the decisive road victory.

Here are the grades from the 49ers’ Week 1 win in Pittsburgh:

Rushing offense

When the 49ers started to let the Steelers back in the game at the end of the first half, running back Christian McCaffrey slammed the door shut with a 65-yard touchdown run just a minute into the third quarter.

McCaffrey had a huge day with 152 yards on 22 rushing attempts for a 6.9 yard average. The 49ers’ run blocking was strong throughout. And McCaffrey received a lot of help on his touchdown run with key downfield blocks from Brandon Aiyuk and Ray-Ray McCloud.

Quarterback Brock Purdy added three scrambles for 20 yards, as the 49ers rushed for 188 yards on the day.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Purdy targeted Aiyuk eight times, and the result were eight pass completions for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Purdy had a solid day as he returned from significant offseason elbow surgery, as he completed 19 of 29 attempts for 220 yards with two touchdown passes, no interceptions thrown and a passer rating of 111.3.

"He's exactly who we thought he was," Nick Bosa said of Purdy.

Purdy was sacked three times and lost a fumble. It was a difficult opening assignment for 49ers right tackle Colton McKivitz against T.J. Watt, who registered all three sacks.

Deebo Samuel added five receptions for 55 yards.

Grade: A-minus

Rushing defense

There was one run play that the defense wanted back from this game.

That came on a third-and-1 play toward the end of the first half when Najee Harris broke free for a 24-yard gain.

On the Steelers other nine rushing attempts, they managed just 17 yards.

Pittsburgh had five three-and-outs to open the game. And by the time they finally picked up a first down, they were hopelessly behind and had to abandon their running game.

Grade: A-minus

Passing defense

It does not get much better than what the 49ers’ pass defense accomplished Sunday against Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

The 49ers completely outclassed the Steelers. Charvarius Ward and Talanoa Hufanga intercepted passes and Drake Jackson registered three of the 49ers’ five sacks in the game. Kerry Hyder and Javon Hargrave each had one sack.

The 49ers limited the Steelers to an average of just 3.9 yards per pass attempt.

Grade: A-plus

Special teams

After some uncertainty with how he kicked in the preseason, 49ers rookie Jake Moody looked completely in control at the start of the regular season.

Moody was perfect on the day, as he connected on kicks of 41, 32 and 40. He also made all three of his extra points.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 44.0 net yards on three punts. He also handled the kickoff chores with four touchbacks. On the three kickoffs that were returned, Steelers returnman Anthony McFarland averaged 30.3 yards.

Grade: B-plus


Steve Wilks, who replaced DeMeco Ryans as defensive coordinator, got off to a great start in his new role.

The 49ers’ defense opened the game with five consecutive three-and-outs. And Wilks was dialing up all the right calls.

Offensively, coach Kyle Shanahan made the decision of the game on the first drive when he opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 45. Purdy hit tight end George Kittle for 11 yards and a first down.

The 49ers were in complete control from starting to finish to open the season with a convincing victory.

Grade: A


This was a difficult assignment to go on the road and face the Steelers, but the 49ers made it look easy, as it appeared as if they were playing at a speed the Steelers simply could not match.

Still, there are many things for the 49ers to clean up, including penalties. They were flagged 11 times for 85 yards on the day.

Grade: A-minus

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