Both the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers have taken different paths to their current 2-0 records – the 49ers by winning their two games late and the Steelers winning their games decisively. Both teams are looking to be 3-0 this weekend as the 49ers visit Heinz Field to play the Steelers. The 49ers have not reached 3-0 since the 1998 season; the Steelers haven’t reached 3-0 since 1992.
The Steelers’ calling card? Running the ball and stifling defense (3rd overall in total defense in the league). The 49ers offense starts with their star running back Frank Gore. After Week 2, Gore has only 136 yards. He missed Wednesday’s practice but is expected back today from his mother’s funeral. Quarterback Alex Smith has subpar stats thus far this season (26-48, 252 yards, zeroand zero interceptions. His stats suggest he is simply managing the ballgame while on offense; but still, hee needs to improve upon those stats if the 49ers look to visit the postseason. The 49ers secondary is steadily improving, but it is the run defense stopping Steelers RB Willie Parker that will probably be the key to the 49ers’ pulling this game out.
The Steelers, as previously mentioned, live on their running attack. Willie Parker is having a good season so far, rushing for 235 yards and a touchdown. His continued dominance of opponents’ defensive lines will be very important to the Steelers’ chances this weekend. The Steelers will get the services of linebacker James Harrison who has been cleared to play despite suffering a neck injury last week; the injury was described as a stiff neck.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is off to a strong start, with 33-of-57 passing for 403 yards (5 TD’s, 1 INT); he will need to keep up his performance against the improving 49ers secondary. Expect this game to be low-scoring for the most part as both defenses will be tested. I think the 49ers’ secondary will step up this week and help the 49ers pull off the upset in Pittsburgh this Sunday.