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2015 49ers' Opponents: Reviewing the Pittsburgh Steelers

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We take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers in anticipation of the coming season.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we have finished reviewing the NFC North (MINCHIDETGB), we are going to turn our attention to the other division that the 49ers will face during the course of the upcoming season: the AFC North. First off the docket is the AFC North champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers had a better season that I expected them to have, to be honest. The strength of the team really came to a fore during the end of the season when they had a nice run of four wins to close out the season.

But, the Steelers had a rough time in the playoffs, with Ben Roethlisberger being continually harassed by the Ravens. The Steelers would go on to lose in a blowout (30-17) even though they played at home. Although the Steelers had a rough exit to the season, they had a great season, going 11-5 en route to an AFC North championship in a division that feature three playoff teams and the Browns (who, to be fair, were much better than some people expected).

Fortunately for the Steelers, this looks like a season in which they can patch up some holes before making a run at a Super Bowl title again.

Free Agents (courtesy of NFL.com):

Unrestricted Free Agents: Jason Worilds, LB; Ike Taylor, CB; Matt Spaeth, TE; Arthur Moats, LB; Brice McCain, CB; Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR; Will Allen, S; James Harrison, LB; Ben Tate, RB.

Restricted Free Agents: Antwon Blake, CB; Will Johnson, FB.

49ers fans might recognize Heyward-Bey from across the Bay. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Other notable names are long-time Steelers players Ike Taylor and James Harrison. It's a bit up in the air as to whether or not they will come back. Harrison, for example, came out of retirement to play this last season - and even though he played really well, he will turn 37 this offseason. He shares a position with the younger Worilds (who admittedly struggles against the run).

One thing the Steelers will need to think about when approaching free agency is what to do with Big Ben. The 33 year old QB had a career year and might be an extension candidate, especially for the Steelers since they are pinching pennies right now. The cap is looming over their collective shoulders.

Potential Needs:

One might notice that the majority of the Steelers' free agents are defensive players; this speaks well to their defensive needs. Their secondary was pretty suspect last season, which might cause them to bring in a couple of CBs. The LB corps could also use some work, especially if Worilds (the Steelers' leading sacker) leaves in free agency. NT might also be an area of improvement.