clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers vs. Steelers review: Looking at offensive line breakdowns and Pittsburgh's pass rush

Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and we're here to tell you how it happened.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As a lumbering giant of a man myself, I've always considered offensive line play among my favorite things to watch in football. As such, I find myself breaking down the offensive line play more and more, and in recent years I've taken to showing you good folks ever sack the 49ers allow (and most that they get).

In Week 1, I had nothing to look at, as the 49ers technically only allowed a single sack. That sack saw Colin Kaepernick hold onto the ball too long and then run out of bounds before the line of scrimmage (officially, he lost no yards on that play but he actually should have lost a couple).

After Week 2, though ... I have five fresh sacks to talk about, and I'm not particularly happy about it. The really troubling thing about these sacks is that, unlike last year, Kaepernick rarely had a chance to actually make a play. Last year, I was often frustrated by his inability to quickly progress through his reads, effectively hit his hot read, effectively go to his dump-off option and any number of things. I was also frustrated by wide receiver routes that took too long to develop.

On Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, none of that was a problem. Instead, the problem was that these guys absolutely dominated San Francisco's offensive line from start to finish.

As an aside, if you have issues with gifs loading on the site please let me know. I've linked each gif externally with the word "sacked" on each play, so see if that works if they're not loading. But if they're not, please let me know which browser you're using, mobile or desktop, and also if they don't load even after waiting a long time.

(8:37) 2nd and 3 at SF 45: Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 41 for -4 yards (Stephon Tuitt)

Colin Kaepernick Sack 01

This one is as clear as you can get: Jordan Devey gets beat, and handily. Erik Pears, Joe Staley, Alex Boone and Marcus Martin handle their business for the most part, but Devey is soundly beat and has no chance to recover. Kaepernick is doing a good job of scanning the field, from what I can see, but he had no guys to hit quickly other than on the right sideline but that would have been a poor throw to make given how quickly the pressure came from that side.

(10:58) 3rd and 22 at PIT 22: Colin Kaepernick sacked at PIT 29 for -7 yards (Cameron Heyward)

3rd and 22 04

Like the other play, one guy gets beat soundly here and it kills the play. This time it is Boone that gets taken down. This time, I do think it's worth suggesting that Kaepernick should have dumped the ball off and had time to do so. This wasn't a play where they were going to be taking a shot at the end zone, and in this situation you either want him lining up the ball to make it an easier kick or putting the ball in the hands of a playmaker like Torrey Smith to possible get something done. But you can't blame him too much with Boone getting beaten so soundly.

(6:47) 3rd and 7 at SF 21: Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 4 for -17 yards (Ryan Shazier)

Kaepernick Sack 03

I don't know what Devey's blocking assignment was in this one, but I don't think there was anything the Steelers showed before this snap to suggest that he shouldn't be blocking the guy that eventually forced Kaepernick to run away. In the end, it's actually Staley's man that gets Kaepernick, but you can't really blame him too much for effectively pushing his guy about 10 yards past where Kaepernick is actually supposed to be on the play. An ugly play overall.

(12:10) 2nd and 18 at SF 21: Colin Kaepernick sacked at SF 15 for -6 yards (Arthur Moats, Stephon Tuitt)

Kaepernick Sack 04

This play is incredibly ugly. Again, the Steelers didn't do anything unique here. They didn't do any kind of crazy blitz or any deception. I don't know if the calls weren't made at the line or if Kaepernick didn't give any instructions or what, but everybody screws up in some way on this play. You'll notice both Pears and Staley not even getting a hand on their guys on the outside and that effectively kills the play. You'll probably never see two tackles simultaneously beaten so soundly as in the play above. Poor Kaepernick.

(14:07) 3rd and 11 at PIT 11: Colin Keapernick sacked at PIT 14 for -3 yards (Bud Dupree)

Kaepernick Sack 05

Pears is, once again, ridiculously slow off the lien and he is soundly beaten by a Pittsburgh pass rush that did very little to disguise its intentions. Everyone else mostly holds fine on this one, but Kaepernick needs longer for those routes to develop. This was yet another sorry 3rd and goal situation, and Pears did absolutely nothing to help it out.