Fred Warner had an opportunity for an interception that could have turned into a touchdown, but he couldn’t haul in the pass. The 49ers defense was relentless during the first half, forcing consecutive three-and-outs on four possessions.
After a chunk play to Aiyuk the offense had the ball into Pittsburgh’s red zone once again. But T.J. Watt beat Colton McKivitz handily and ended the drive. Purdy made a rather impressive recovery on the play, and Jake Moody’s 32-yard field goal was good to make it 20-0.
The Steelers didn’t look much better on their next offensive drive. After five drives, Pickett had five completions on nine attempts for nine yards. The 49ers defense allowed next to nothing.
The same cannot be said for the Steelers defense. They had the Niners dead to rights on a couple of occasions. Minkah Fitzpatrick blitzed off the edge and had a free run at Purdy, but the second-year quarterback sensed the pressure, spun out of the play, and found Deebo for a first down.
Those are the plays that give the front office confidence. Those are the type of plays where you know you have a special player under center. It’s the secondary, off-script plays that Kyle Shanahan can’t account for. They don’t happen often, but shows you how valuable a having a playmaker under center can be.
Unfortunately, another penalty stopped the final drive for the 49ers of the first half. That was the first drive of the game where San Francisco didn’t score a point, which is quite the feat.
It took the Steelers until 1:16 in the first half to gain a first down. But a late hit by Deommodore Lenoir put the ball into Niners territory.
After a fourth down conversion, Lenoir committed another penalty to give the Steelers a first and goal from the 3-yard line. A 12-play, 95-yard drive gave the Steelers a touchdown and life. That made it 20-7 at the half.