By Danny Golding

Going into 2019 the 49ers had high expectations with Jimmy Garoppolo  being fully healthy after tearing his ACL in week 3 of 2018, but most people would not have picked them to start the season off 3-0, especially with the Pittsburgh Steelers with what what was originally thought to have been Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback on their schedule for week 3. However, the way the 49ers defense played they could have easily won this game with Big Ben at QB. Mason Rudolph was 14/27 and threw for 174 yard with 2 touchdowns, not bad for a young quarterback making his first career start.  The first of 5  turnovers occurred in the Niners first offensive possession when Jimmy G threw a screen pass to Matt Breida was bobbled off Breida’s hands and into the hands of Steelers linebacker T.J Watt. Pittsburgh ended up with a field goal on the following drive to make it 3-0 to 11:45 remaining in the first quarter. On the following drive Jimmy was sacked for the only time in the game by defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Jimmy G a couple plays later attempted to pitch the ball to Raheem Mostert, the ball went off Mostert’s hands and was a fumble but the Niners offense was able to recover.  The following 49ers possession Jimmy threw a pass to Donte Pettis that was off Pettis’ hands and into the hands of Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers on their next possession got deep into the red zone but the Niners defense still managed to hold them to a field goal as they took a 6-0 lead with two minutes left to go in the first quarter. In the first drive in the beginning of the second quarter, Mostert fumbled at the Steelers 10 yard line after what would have been a big first down run. So, yes that’s 4 turnovers in the first half and the defense was still able to hold Pittsburgh to 6 points in the first half.

One of the big plays of the first half was Kyle Juszczyk’s diving catch for 22 yards. Juszczyk ended up having 3 receptions for 51 yards, he could prove to be a valuable hidden weapon.  The Niners failed to get into the end zone in the first half but still managed to score 3 points to make it 6-3 Pittsburgh at the half.  On the defensive side of the ball, Dee Ford scored his 2nd sack in a 49er uniform, Deforest Buckner who’s having a great start to the season also had a sack, and K’Waun Williams picked off Mason Rudolph. The defense was not kind to Rudolph as they pressured him all game. The 49ers got their first touchdown of the game with 9:17 left to go in the 3rd quarter when Jeff Wilson JR ran it in for the first of two times. Wilson got his 2nd rushing touchdown with a minute left to go in the third quarter, and it was 17-13 49ers going into the fourth.  In the Steelers first possession in the 4th, following a pass interference call on Jason Verrett, Mason Rudolph found Diontae Johnson for a touchdown to make it 20-17 Steelers. The 49ers got their fifth turnover in the red zone with 6:50 left to go as Richie James JR fumbled. That turnover looked like it was gonna be the nail in the coffin and the Steelers were gonna be able to hold on and get the win, but shortly after on the Steelers next possession, Arik Armstead knocked the ball out of James Conner’s hands and Deforest Buckner recovered! With a 1 minute and 21 seconds left to go Jimmy G found Dante Pettis for the game winning touchdown! The 49ers stopped the Steelers on all four downs on their next possession and won the game 24-20. The defense stopping the Steelers from getting into the end zone in the first half proved to be a game changer.  The only negative in the Niners 41-17 win over the Bengals in week 2 was the lower left leg injury to Joe Staley in the fourth quarter. Rookie Justin Skule made his first career start with Staley expected to be out six weeks. Skule’s performance in his first game was praised by Kyle Shanahan, Laken Tomlinson and Levine Toilolo, however in the fourth quarter Skule was penalized three times, twice for holding and once for an illegal blindside. Justin Skule is going to have to work on limiting penalties. Ahkello Witherspoon was carted off the field with a foot injury and is expected to miss at least the next month.

The 49ers are now 3-0 for the first time since 1998 and are going into an early week 4 bye week before they take on the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football the following week. Jalen Hurd and Tevin Coleman are expected to be back after the bye week. The 49ers running game with Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson JR, so the question is does Tevin Coleman even fit on this team? Jalen Hurd being healthy should be the last key piece on the Niners offense. Along with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, and Dante Pettis, Jalen Hurd will be a key weapon for Jimmy Garoppolo. Speaking of Dante Pettis who had the game winning TD after being a practically a no show in the first 2 games. So the question is, are we gonna see more action from Pettis?