The Pittsburgh media began reporting last night that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is expected to start Monday Night Football against the 49ers. This is likely not a big shock for most fans, but it is still worth noting. It is also worth noting that the decision came on Saturday after a solid practice, as opposed to following last night's Ravens loss. This is a huge game for the Steelers as they can move a game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North race. The Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker so that is monstrous for the Steelers.
It will be interesting to see how Roethlisberger looks out on the field dropping back and moving around in the pocket. In the second half against the Browns, Roethlisberger was more or less immobile. He was moving a bit more late in the game, but it was very limited. We should know pretty quickly what kind of mobility he has tonight.
It will be interesting to see how he takes hits and pressures from the 49ers front seven. He is a big guy and can take a lot of punishment, but one tough hit could mean Charlie Batch is coming into the game. The 49ers do not need to "hurt" Roethlisberger, but if a QB is immobile and dealing with an injury, the defense has to bring pressure and force him out of any sort of comfort zone.
The 49ers do not need to be dropping late hits on him, but they have to make sure he is completely aware of their presence, even if a sack does not result. Football is a physical game and you don't get points for playing soft. Vic Fangio has not exactly been a big time blitzer this season, but this might be a good time to release the hounds.