Welcome back Niners fans. Even though we are coming off a loss and heading into a tough primetime match-up, I couldn't be more excited for the next game. I've found that since the Jim Harbaugh has taken control of this team, I don't dread match-ups like one San Francisco has this Monday Night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
NFL fans aware of the stigma the Steelers have had over the years; with Dick LeBeau at the helm, the defense has been extraordinary and Ben Roethlisberger is already a very accomplished quarterback. The only team that has truly owned Pittsburgh this year is the Baltimore Ravens, who swept them in two games. Luckily, the man who engineered that is the big brother of our own head coach, Jim Harbaugh.
With that said, it's no mystery that Jim Harbaugh was probably using his Anytime Minutes to call his family in Maryland this week. So, what could be the most useful piece of information John could give Jim about the Steelers? What's one thing that he could clue Jim into that could be a game changer for the 49ers? Let's jump
I noticed the last two games where the Ravens played the Steelers; they scored points and took the ball away on defense. They did those two things very well, and the Niners have the makeup to do them as well - especially the second thing. I think the key to scoring points on the Steelers has to start with keeping Alex Smith upright.
If the 49ers are not only able to protect Smith, but take advantage of when Pittsburgh sends extra men, it could turn the Steelers' entire defense plan on itself. Let's also take note that James Harrison will be serving his one-game suspension that Monday night and will not be active. Hopefully John Harbaugh breaks down how to isolate their blitz schemes, and which blocking schemes are best suited to defend them.
The play-calling should absolutely come into consideration here as well. The Ravens are effective at running screens and used them to beat the Steelers blitz. The offensive linemen executed and Ray Rice was able to make plays behind his blockers and in space. I know Frank Gore and this offensive line is capable of producing similar results. It wouldn't be irrational to throw in some quick slants and tight end throwback screens either.
I think it would be advisable to get Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis involved in the receiving game. The Pittsburgh linebackers and safeties are so good at stopping the play close to the line of scrimmage or getting to the passer; we need to get them in pass protection and stay away from Troy Polamalu. Walker and Davis are mismatches for the Steelers more seasoned defenders.
If the 49ers offense can control time of possession, keep Ben Roethlisberger off the field, and make the Steelers defense have to defend every inch of that field by spreading them out with creative play calls, San Francisco has a great shot to win. They open as 2 ½ point favorites at home; one thing is for sure, this should be a close game.
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