The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2015 season with quite a few questions, and Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed ugly answers to two of the bigger questions. The Steelers dominated the trenches and shredded the 49ers through the air en route to a 43-24 victory.
The 49ers offense was awful early, but tried to come back late. More on that in a moment. The most important story of the day was a truly abysmal performance by the 49ers defense, and their secondary in particular. The secondary probably could not have covered me deep on Sunday. I say that because even Darrius Heyward-Bey got on the scoreboard. Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 27 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Roethlisberger made some great passes at times, but there were too many instances where Antonio Brown was blowing past defenders with ease. Eric Mangini has a lot of baaaaad film to look over this week.
The 49ers offensive line was also awful on Sunday. When stunts are leaving Joe Staley thoroughly confused, you know it is not your day. But this line lived down to the preseason expectations. Erik Pears had a horrible game, with three penalties (holding, clipping, false start), and the right side of the line as a whole was pretty awful. It made it nearly impossible for Colin Kaepernick to find time to scan the field.
Kap actually looked pretty solid, stepping up in the pocket at times and using his legs. He was certainly not perfect, but three dropped passes did not help. Vernon Davis caught a ball for a first down, but a defensive hit dislodged the ball to make it incomplete. Anquan Boldin got open down the sideline and dropped a ball. Later, Bruce Miller could not hold onto the ball on a touchdown catch, getting the Calvin Johnson/Dez Bryant rule. Kap finished the game 33 of 46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. A chunk of that came in garbage time, but there was a lot to build on. The Kap-Torrey Smith connection for a 75-yard touchdown was particularly nice.
The 49ers travel to face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3. It is safe to say Carson Palmer is licking his lips at this matchup. We'll see what Eric Mangini and Geep Chryst can figure out over the next week.
Carlos Hyde: Suffered a head injury in the third quarter, and was evaluated for a concussion. Laura Okmin reported in the fourth quarter that he was cleared to return. He did not return, but I am guessing that was due to the blowout score. Mike Davis handled the bulk of snaps after the injury.
Vance McDonald: Left with a knee injury and declared questionable to return. Blake Bell got some snaps once McDonald went down.