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49ers snap counts vs. the Steelers: Keep Juice in the game

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Too many snaps for Buck, just right for Kittle.

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday despite turning the ball over five times. While the offense turned it over, they didn’t have any issues moving the ball. The offense had 436 yards of offense and averaged six yards per play. It’s the first time the Niners had back-to-back regular-season games combine for more than 1,000 since 2012 when they went for 381 vs. the Jets and then 621 vs. the Bills. The offense also has doubled the first downs of their opponents in the last two games. The Bengals and Steelers combined for 25 first downs. The 49ers have 53 first downs during the previous two games.

You’ll see in the snap counts below, but George Kittle didn’t come off the field. When the roster cuts happened a few weeks back, the general manager insisted on the idea behind keeping four tight ends was to give Kittle a breather. When the game is close, the last thing the 49ers offense can do is take their best player off the field. Another player that the 49ers cannot live without is Kyle Juszczyk. In three games, the offense is better with him on the field. It’s that simple. Here are the offenses snap counts:

Offense-79 snaps

Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 79

Running back – Kyle Juszczyk 50

Matt Breida 32

Raheem Mostert 24

Jeff Wilson 21

Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 53

Deebo Samuel 41

Dante Pettis 33

Richie James 28

Kendrick Bourne 22

Tight end – George Kittle 79

Levine Toilolo 10

Ross Dwelley 2

Offensive line – Weston Richburg 79

Laken Tomlinson 79

Mike Person 79

Justin Skule 79

Mike McGlinchey 77

Daniel Brunskill 2

McGlinchey left briefly with equipment issues. This was the best defensive line the 49ers faced early on, and it showed. Garoppolo was rarely under pressure in the first two games. In Week 3, he was sacked once and hit an additional seven times. The running game was strong. Forty carries and the offense averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

You wouldn’t bat an eye if I told you Kittle led the team in receptions and yards. You would sit up straight in your seat if you knew Juice only had six fewer yards than Kittle. Juszczyk is a significantly better, and more versatile player than the backup tight ends. Kyle Shanahan trusts him, and rightfully so.

A game where you guess the wide receiver, snap counts. Good luck. It felt like Goodwin was hardly on the field, and Pettis was constantly on it. Not according to the snap counts. Bourne played 22 snaps, but they went to him on a couple of crucial situations, including on third down. I don’t mind that at all, because Bourne is one of the better receivers on the team at catching the ball in traffic. He couldn’t hold onto one, and another one he got open and should have scored.

Deebo should have comfortably led the team in receiving again had he caught that long bomb. Those 50/50 balls down the field are usually a winning play for the offense. You often either catch it or get a penalty. At worst, it’s incomplete. Samuel had this one in his hands, but couldn’t control it to the ground.

Defense-53 snaps

Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 47

Arik Armstead 41

Nick Bosa 39

D.J. Jones 25

Ronald Blair 21

Dee Ford 16

Sheldon Day 12

Solomon Thomas 11

Linebacker – Fred Warner 53

Kwon Alexander 52

Dre Greenlaw 10

Defensive back – Tarvarius Moore 53

Jaquiski Tartt 53

Richard Sherman 53

K’Waun Williams 43

Ahkello Witherspoon 43

Emmanuel Moseley 7

Jason Verrett 4

I’m not ready to close the door on Verrett’s career just yet. The guy hasn’t played live football in a couple of years and hardly practiced. That doesn’t excuse him for getting beat, especially beaten deep, but I wouldn’t give him a pink slip this week either. Depending on what Witherspoon’s injury is, they may need him.

We still haven’t gotten a full game where Ford and Bosa are healthy, and the 49ers are 3-0. Ford had a sack in 16 snaps and was in the backfield a few other times. Bosa lived in the Steelers backfield, despite not stuffing the box score with stats. Buckner playing 88% of the snaps is still too much. We’re finding out that the team doesn’t trust Thomas. Buckner playing that much probably has something to do with Ford being banged up as well.

Moore is doing a good job in coverage. One area that he must improve on is his angles when attacking a ball-carrier. His angles have been awful through three weeks. He’s aggressive, which you love, now it’s about coming in under control.

I love everything Kwon Alexander has done early on. His ability to either slip blocks or run around them has helped Alexander make plenty of plays near the line of scrimmage. He’s an impact player, and Warner is right there with him.