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Update: Big Ben is out for the season

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49ers might be playing against a backup quarterback

Kyle’s update 9:08:

While the 49ers were doing their thing against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing with their backup quarterback for much of their game against the Seattle Seahawks. Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a couple throws where he was seen grabbing his elbow and eventually left the game. Mason Rudolph came in to play some of the first and the entire second half.

From the video linked above, it doesn’t look likes a contact injury but Roethlisberger was in obvious pain. Whatever it is, Roethlisberger is scheduled for an MRI Monday and some conclusions can be made. ESPN’s Dianna Russini did say the Steelers knew of the elbow going into Sunday’s game, so there’s that to keep in mind.

The 49ers have the Steelers for Week 3, which is their first home game for 2019. If Roethlisberger is unable to play, that puts Rudolph in as the starter. The Steelers drafted Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft with many analysts pegging Rudolph as the heir apparent to the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh. Well, until Roethlisberger signed a two-year extension in the offseason. Rudolph still could be the future of the franchise, but that’s four years of sitting. Then again, it worked for Aaron Rodgers.

In any case, this will be a story to watch. Having an inexperienced quarterback is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good because it’s an inexperienced signal-caller prone to mistakes. It’s bad because the 49ers defense won’t have much film on Rudolph like they would have on Roethlisberger. If Rudolph blows up, it could be some misplaced faith that he’s the next Terry Bradshaw when in fact the defense was hamstrung due to not knowing the little tendencies they would find with other quarterbacks. For a good example of what I’m talking about, a couple of years ago I wrote a post discussing these tendencies defenses look for when Richard Sherman identified a tell in Jimmy Garoppolo. They can’t diagnose that in one half-game

This could be huge for the 49ers on Sunday. The Steelers have a quarterback in their first start going to a stadium where a once losing 49ers team is getting white-hot to start the season.

It really could go either way. Personally, I’d rather have Roethlisberger starting because the 49ers are trying to get legitimacy and respect. Without Roethlisberger, the win sort of becomes an asterisk and if they lose it everyone wonders if they were overhyped due to losing to a backup. I’d rather they beat Steelers at full strength because it would help them in the respect column.