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49ers 2019 opponent preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s time to start scouting the 49ers opponents for 2019. Today it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Those are the first two teams the 49ers have. They are teams that they should be able to beat at this stage with their roster.

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Those are the first two teams the Pittsburgh Steelers have. They may or may not beat them depending on how things go.

This leads to what already is a great test for the 49ers given the talent they are up against, but also the situation. The Steelers could come into this 0-2 and will be clawing their way to not go 0-3.

The 49ers have something to prove with their defensive line and offense. This will be a game. Hopefully.

Usually Week 3 is when the rust is worked off and the sloppiness seen in the first two weeks is gone. This is where we see what we have with the 49ers. What the 2019 team will be. This will be a great test on both sides of the ball against a solid roster that isn’t light years ahead of them in talent. If the 49ers can pull this off, start going nuts.

As far as the Steeler drama, Antonio Brown Mr. Big Chest is off to the Oakland Raiders. So maybe that drama will go down. Juju Smith-Schuster will be attempting to replicate things as a No. 1 wide receiver, but Brown is one of those receivers you can’t replace.

Regardless of wide receivers. The Steelers still have their offensive line, they have their quarterback and they had Vance McDonald doing this. They are still a solid team.

Draft picks

Round 1: Devin Bush (ILB)
Round 3: Diontae Johnson (WR)
Round 3: Justin Layne (CB)
Round 4: Benny Snell Jr. (RB)
Round 5: Zach Gentry (TE)
Round 6: Sutton Smith (OLB)
Round 6: Isaiah Buggs (DT)
Round 6: Ulysees Gilbert III (ILB)
Round 7: Derwin Gray (G)

Notable free agent acquisitions

Mark Barron (LB)
Donte Moncrief (WR)
Steven Nelson (CB)

The Steelers have been struggling since Ryan Shazier went down. That makes the Devin Bush pick all the more special. The Steelers traded up to 10 to get him and their linebacker issues are now a thing of the past. Well, hopefully for them. From there, I guess it depends on who you ask. I love the Bush pick, but Diontae Johnson will need some work. He could work out, he could not. I do like Justin Layne at cornerback and had a small hope maybe the 49ers could look into him.

Benny Snell is interesting. If he winds up wrenching the starting running back spot from James Conner and does well, then the success of the running backs can be more credited to the offensive line given the seasons four of them (Le’Veon Bell, D’Angelo Williams, James Connor, and Benny Snell) would have had.

On the free agency side Mark Barron should be helpful. Donte Moncrief isn’t going to be Antonio Brown, but it’s a respectable signing for the Steelers to make up for Brown’s departure. Steven Nelson is the signing I like for the Steelers. He had a monster 2018 and it will be interesting to see if he can build on that.

The matchup

What we haven’t gotten to is the fact the 49ers are going up against a solid team on both sides of the ball. Le’Veon Bell got yardage as a great running back, but the Steelers also have one of the best offensive lines in the league and that always helps. Just ask DeMarco Murray about that when he was on the Cowboys.

Run game aside, the last time the 49ers face the Steelers in 2015, Roethlisberger chucked the ball in the air for huge gains on just about every third down. I’m not joking, go watch. Now that won’t be the game plan this year but the secondary will need to plan for Roethlisberger to do his thing. The 49ers defensive line also needs to bring Roethlisberger down, which as been shown for years, is easier said than done. The Steelers defense is no joke as well and should be good enough to provide ample problems for Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Steelers missed the playoffs after going 7-2-1 to start the season and the reason for missing it largely can be blamed for all the drama. That might not be the case this year. If the 49ers are a playoff team, then they should be able to beat playoff teams.

Also, the first two games for the Steelers are at New England and against the Seattle Seahawks. They very well could lose both of those games. Even if they win one (I see them beating the Seahawks due to timing, the game being in Pittsburgh, and the fact Seattle always starts sluggish), that puts them at 1-1 and no team wants to be at 1-2. This will add to the urgency factor and give us a real ball game.

The 49ers have a very important test here against a team that could be 0-2 to start. It’s not just the talent but the situation the 49ers will be up against. I do think if everyone is healthy, they very well could win this in the final seconds, but beyond winning, this will be a game to gauge the 2019 San Francisco 49ers for the rest of the season. It’s not if they lose, but how. If they can beat the Steelers given the talent and the situation, the 49ers will start turning some heads.