Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The 49ers opened Levi’s Stadium with all the pomp and circumstance you would expect. A plane flyover, strategic parachute landings, but it didn’t take long for the main event to get gong.
The Niners offense opened up the game and while they initially seemed fine moving the ball after a 5-yard run by RB Matt Breida and a 12-yard catch by TE George Kittle, though a bobbled p[ass by Breida led to an interception by Steelers LB TJ Watt.
After a short drive that led to a Steelers field goal and a score of 3-0, the Niners went back out.
After a hard sack following OT Mike McGlinchey was beaten by Stephen Tuitt, the offense continued to struggle as QB Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled the ball. Thankfully, RB Raheem Mostert was there to recover the ball.
Things didn’t get much better, as Garoppolo had defenders in his face more than not. Before the end of the first quarter, Garoppolo had a defender in his face for a would be sack, but let the ball go just in time. It ended up in the hands of DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, newly acquired from the Miami Dolphins. The defense held stout though and the 49ers only found themselves down 6-0.
After four different Steelers takeaways, the 49ers eventually started to find some rhythm. That rhythm, however, was limited to the slowest imaginable.
Little by little they moved.
Starting the second half, the Steelers could not get anything going and the result was an interception by CB K’Waun Williams. The Niners found themselves a little bit and was able to drive up to the goal line and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. punched it in.
Now leading 10-6, the 49ers got the ball back on offense and looked to see if they could add on and build more momentum. The Steelers made that a little tougher after a three play, 82-yard drive capped off by a 76-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster. The Niners headed into the middle of the third quarter down 13-10.
The 49ers started to put it together though just before the start of the fourth quarter. Garoppolo moved the ball efficiently and the run game got good punches. It ended with a four-yard run for Jeff Wilson Jr. into the end zone, making the score 17-13 following g the extra point by Robbie Gould.
After that it became a matter of who could outscore each other in the smallest deficit shootout in NFL history.
A fifth turnover on a miscommunication between WR Richie James and Garoppolo resulted in another fumble and recovery by TJ Watt.
On the ensuing drive though, RB James Conner coughed up the ball after DL Arik Armstead blew up the play, and DeForest Buckner recovered the fumble.
Ultimately the home opener was exactly that. Room for improvement.
FINAL: San Francisco Won 23-20
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