The San Francisco 49ers needed little reason to get back to the basics on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Losers of two of their last three, the Niners defense beat up Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a 20-3 win that puts them at 11-3 on the year.
It was a gutsy effort for Roethlisberger to even be on the field, but let’s face it, the guy clearly wasn’t 100 percent, and it showed as he threw three picks and was only able to manage three points for the Steelers.
The loss for Pittsburgh puts them at 10-4, and puts Baltimore back in first in the division due to the tiebreaker, and as of now, the Patriots are the #1 seed in the AFC.
The 49ers are 11-3, and can take home the #2 seed in the NFC if they can beat the Seahawks and Rams to end the year on the road. Alex Smith was solid for San Fran, going 18-for-31 for 187 yards with a TD throw of one-yard to Vernon Davis with 3:44 left in the third that extended the San Fran lead to 13-3.
The game was put out of reach early in the fourth when Justin Smith stripped Roethlisberger of the ball on a sack at the Steelers 17 with 11 and a half minutes left.
They got a “leaping” call on Lawrence Timmons to give them a first and goal at the five, and two plays later Frank Gore went in to make it a 20-3 game.
San Fran scored 13 of their 20 points on the three Steelers turnovers.
Gore had 18 carries for 65 yards and a score. Davis pulled in 6 passes for 72 yards and a score in the winning effort. On defense, Aldon Smith had a tackle and 2.5 sacks.
Roethlisberger, playing with a grade one ankle sprain, went 25-for-44 for 330 yards with three of picks, two of which led to 49ers field goals as they led 6-0 at the half.
The Steelers are home for the Rams on Saturday, while the Niners head to Seattle.