Pittsburgh Steelers @

San Francisco 49ers

Sun, Sep 22
1:25 PM Pacific
Rotation: 485
Odds: San Francisco 49ers -6.5, Total: 43

Game Analysis

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SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) vs Pittsburgh 

Ben Roethlisberger was clearly bothered by his elbow to start the season. Big Ben averaged just 5.4 yards per pass play, a yard and a half per play below his career average, and well under-performed his expected completion percentage according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Now, we will get Mason Rudolph under center and I expect the game-plan to be pass-heavy with RB James Conner dealing with a knee injury. Rudolph likely will not have check-downs available underneath, as the Niners linebackers are much improved in coverage with the additions of Kwon Alexander and rookie Dre Greenlaw. Alexander has surrendered just 26 receiving yards on 9 targets with an interception and Greenlaw is conceding only 0.16 yards per cover snap (4th). The Steelers are one of four teams yet to allow a sack and they should protect Rudolph to look deep downfield like he did at Oklahoma State, especially with a likely change in roles at wide receiver. Donte Moncrief is gaining a league-low 0.13 yards per route run and I expect James Washington, who played with Rudolph in college, to become the second receiving option.

The 49ers are not missing injured running backs Tevin Coleman or Jerick McKinnon. Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida are both in the top 20 in the league in missed tackles forced and the Niners have our 8th-rated rush offense so far. A broken leg will rule out Joe Staley, one of three tackles to not allow a pressure in the first two weeks, but Steelers’ DE Bud Dupree does not have the talent to exploit the hole in San Francisco’s offensive line.

The Steelers traded a first round pick for disgruntled yet talented Dolphins’ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick and he is expected to play on Sunday. Fitzpatrick is one of the best nickelbacks in the league, surrendering just 1.00 yards per slot cover snap last year, and he fills a huge need on the inside for Pittsburgh’s secondary. The Steelers slot cornerbacks conceded a combined 1.42 yards per cover snap in 2018 and Mike Hilton is allowing 1.95 yards per slot cover snap so far this season. Offenses used 3 wide receivers almost twice as much last year as they did a decade before in 2008 and defenses played with a third cornerback on the field for 75% of snaps in 2018. Obviously, nickelbacks are continually becoming more crucial in the modern NFL and the Steelers strengthened their defense – although I think they gave up too much considering that the draft pick could end up being top 10 given how things are going for the Steelers so far this season. Although, Fitzpatrick is an excellent player worth more than a half point to this defense and the move speaks to the confidence Pittsburgh has in Rudolph under center.

I expect a lot of opportunities for Rudolph to prove himself this week while the Niners focus on the ground game. Our model favors San Francisco by 6.3 with a predicted total of 45.8.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Steelers
  • 49ers


  • Pass Plays 41.5 38.5
  • Succ Pass Plays 39.1% 57.2%
  • Sack Rate 2.5% 6.4%
  • Int Rate 2.5% 0.0%
  • Deep Pass Rate 18.4% 13.8%
  • Big Pass Yards 33.3% 45.3%
  • NYPP 5.4 8.3


  • Rush Plays 14.5 31.0
  • RB YPR 3.5 3.8
  • Stuff Rate 24.0% 24.2%
  • Succ Rush Plays 55.0% 43.4%
  • Big Rush Yards 22.8% 43.7%
  • Yards Per Rush 3.8 4.0


  • All Snaps 56.0 69.5
  • Early Down Succ 48.0% 53.2%
  • Succ Rate 43.2% 51.1%
  • Big Yards Rate 34.4% 47.6%
  • Yards Per Play 5.1 6.4
  • Fumble Lost Rate 0.0% 1.4%
  • Time Per Play (sec) 27.6 29.6
  • Run Ratio 26.3% 44.6%
  • Starting Field Pos 30.3 26.7
  • Game Control -8.5 8.5
  • Points 14.5 30.5
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