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Mike Tomlin is preparing for Nick Bosa to play; speaks highly of Christian McCaffrey

The Steelers head coach shared his thoughts about Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, and how his team was in a similar contract situation a couple of years ago leading up to the regular season with T.J. Watt.

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The 49ers travel to Pittsburgh this week to take on one of the greatest coaches of my lifetime. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a straight shooter. He’s never been one for fluff. So it’s noteworthy to get an idea of how he views his opponent this week, specifically, the quarterback.

Tomlin gave a detailed scouting report Tuesday morning about the Niners. During his opening statement, Tomlin applauded the 49ers for their recent success, and added that the team “found their quarterback, in Purdy, who, I thought, was really impressive.”

But Tomlin knows which player is responsible for making the offense go:

“Starting on the offensive side of the ball, it starts with Christian McCaffrey. We just gotta respect the dynamic playmaking ability that he has, both in the running game and the passing game. It’s very evident how significant his addition has been for them.

I think prior to his addition, they were averaging 20 to 22 points a game. With him, they averaged 30 points a game. So, ten points with the addition of one man. We better be really careful about being matched up against him in space. He’s a 1-on-1 space winner.

They have a lot of 1-on-1 space winners. He might be the most dynamic 1-on-1 space winner in the NFL. [George] Kittle might be that at tight end. Deebo Samuel might be that at receiver. Their run after ability with their offensive eligibles is really impressive.”

McCaffrey is one of the preseason favorites to win Offensive Player of the Year. A healthy McCaffrey for a full season should put up video game numbers in this offense.

Tomlin was complimentary about the style of offense that Kyle Shanahan has put together:

“It’s very quarterback-friendly. It doesn’t put them in a lot of adverse circumstances. It keeps them on schedule. And in doing so, it minimizes the potential for negativity. It’s a great platform, particularly for a young guy to play and gain experience and I think it’s reflective of Purdy’s journey a year ago and their collective journey a year ago. But I imagine his growth and development in that experience has him and them ready to take another step just like we are with our young quarterback.”

The Steelers’ head coach understands that Shanahan’s had success, wherever he is and regardless of who is under center:

“It is less specifically about Brock Purdy and is more about how Kyle Shanahan chooses to utilize his quarterback within the schematics of what it is that he does. And so, whether it’s Purdy or Darnold or Garoppolo or anyone that you know, Matt Ryan, or his days in Cleveland, we just see very similar things in terms of their approach to football.”

I could listen to Tomlin speak about the game of football all day. He continued to talk about the 49ers defense, and said Pittsburgh is acting as if Nick Bosa will play:

“Yes, we are preparing for Bosa. It’s prudent for us to assume that he’s going to be there and prepare in that vein, as opposed to being surprised. We were in a similar situation a couple of years ago with T.J. [Watt]. We got a deal done in the 11th hour. He showed up in the stadium, and he was T.J. Watt that day. And so, that’s what those guys do. They show up and they are who they are. We expect him to be there. It’s the prudent approach to take.”

Tomlin singled out San Francisco’s top defensive players, saying “you don’t get to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL without quality players.” He mentioned Talanoa Hufanga, Fred Warner, and Arik Armstead specifically, in addition to the sound defense the Niners play.

You can listen to the press conference in its entirety below: