Well, that’s one way to get off to a fast start. The San Francisco 49ers marched into Pittsburgh, and dominated the Steelers on a their way to a 30-7 victory in Week 1.
Brock Purdy “shut some haters up” in the words of Nick Bosa. Minus one rather unfortunate drive, the 49ers’ defense looked as elite as advertised. Brandon Aiyuk took his training camp success to into Week 1. With under two minutes in the first half, the 49ers had outgained the Steelers 233-1 – that’s not a typo – and were up 20-0.
And last, but certainly not least, rookie kicker Jake Moody was 3-3 on field goals and perfect on extra points. This is significant, not only because he went to Michigan, but also due to his preseason struggles and recent quad injury.
“We felt so good about him in practice every day,” said 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan. “He had a couple of struggles in the preseason, then got hurt. But he healed a lot faster than we expected…You still want to see it in games. Given the delay of game [before the first field goal], we did that just to make it harder on him [joke]. He looked great there, continued through the game. He did a hell of a job.”
The 49ers’ defense forced a three and out to start the game, after which the offense came out, as Purdy, who started Week 1 six months to the day after having surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, led a seven play, 54 yard, 3:46 drive that ended in an eight-yard Brandon Aiyuk touchdown. Purdy then pounded his chest.
“I felt like right there in that moment, it was like ‘This is what we’re supposed to do. This is what we expect out of ourselves’ and once I hit that touchdown, I wasn’t thinking surgery or anything like that,” Purdy said. “It was ‘Man, we’re here to win. This is it. This is how we’re going to play.’ That’s where I was at mentally.”
Aiyuk had eight receptions on eight targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Purdy finished the day 19-of-29 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 111.3. Christian McCaffrey ran for a 65-yard touchdown 0:58 into the third quarter. Casual.
“He’s taken this whole offseason as good as you can as a quarterback being injured,” said Kyle Shanahan. “He’s done everything he can to come back and he handles the pressure well and he really doesn’t change. I think that’s why the guys love him and I think that’s why he will continue to get better.”
The 49ers’ defense sacked Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett five times – three of them coming from Drake Jackson (who had three sacks the whole season in 2022), one from Javon Hargrave and one from Kerry Hyder. They also had two interceptions. Charvarius Ward had the first in the first quarter, and it led to a 41-yard Moody field goal.
The other came later in the second half when Fred Warner tipped a pass into the hands of Talanoa Hufanga.
Bosa returned with two total tackles and a quarterback hit.
All in all, it was a good day for a team that started the last season 3-4 and 3-5, respectively and have been hammering the importance of starting the season with more, well, oomph.
Next up, the 49ers head to Los Angeles to take on the Rams on Sunday, Sept. 17.