Back to earth: 49ers slammed by high-octane Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday dropped an unforgiving hammer on San Francisco in a 43-18 win over the 49ers. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Welcome back to earth, San Francisco. The Niners coaxed Teddy Bridgewater into one of the worst games of his young career in the opener. They had no such luck against a zoned-in Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 369 yards and three scores at an outrageous 13.7 yards per toss against coordinator Eric Mangini's secondary. What we didn't see this week: Niners defenders smothering ball-handlers as they did against Minnesota. San Francisco was badly outmanned by Pittsburgh's weapon-rich attack.
  1. Colin Kaepernick struggled to find his rhythm against a physical Steelers defensive front that controlled the line for much of the game against a 49ers squad that mustered just 33 yards passing in the first half. Kaepernick finished with 335 yards through the air, but this game shifted into garbage time early. Pittsburgh's front seven was a different beast than what we saw in Week 1, piling up five sacks and pushing the pocket from wire to wire.
  1. Coming off his sensational 168-yard rushing performance in the opener, 49ers running back Carlos Hyde managed just 43 yards at 3.1 yards per clip against Pittsburgh on a day that saw San Francisco play from behind the entire way. Hyde left in the second half with a head injury, but coach Jim Tomsula told reporters the back didn't suffer a concussion.
  1. The signing of DeAngelo Williams worked out perfectly for Pittsburgh. When they needed him against the Patriots, he plowed through New England for 127 yards on the ground. Le'Veon Bell's fill-in managed another 77 yards on Sunday, burning San Francisco for a trio of short touchdown runs. He's a backup at this stage of his career, but Williams earned his badge over two weeks of play.
  1. There's no better receiver in the AFC than Antonio Brown. The Steelers pass-catcher set the tone early with a beautiful 28-yard over-the-shoulder grab on Pittsburgh's opening drive. He never let up from there, burning through San Francisco's secondary with ease and torturing the Niners for 195 yards off nine grabs. We also saw Darrius Heyward-Bey (4/77/1) and Markus Wheaton (2/67) make noise against this leaky secondary.
  1. Pittsburgh was either (a) feeling very aggressive or (b) simply doesn't trust their newfound kicker. The Steelers dialed up successful two-point conversions on back-to-back touchdown drives in the first half. It might become a regular feature of this offense after the embattled Josh Scobee proceeded to miss his first extra point of the afternoon.
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