There were a handful of impressive performances in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season, but none were more roundly dominant than what the 49ers did against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. A 30-7 thumping of a Steelers club that got plenty of pre-season hype was enough to catapult the 49ers to No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports NFL power rankings.
The 49ers stifling defense allowed seven points and a paltry 3.9 yards per play, while their offense ripped off 30 points and 5.9 yards per play. Here’s what USA TODAY’s Nate Davis wrote about the 49ers’ climb from No. 4 to No. 1:
Hard to begin more impressively than flying cross-country and beating another (supposed) contender by 23 points in their own building. The Niners dominated in every phase at Pittsburgh on Sunday, and second-year QB Brock Purdy built upon the historic start of his career. “Mr. Irrelevant” from the 2022 draft, he’s the first passer in league annals with a QB rating of at least 95.0 in his first six regular-season starts and the first to win his first six non-playoff starts while notching at least a pair of TD throws in each. Purdy’s lone loss remains January’s NFC title game defeat at Philadelphia, when his UCL snapped early in the game. The wing – and this team at large – looked ready to go, S.F. positioned to be better than ever in the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era.
It’s still only one week, but it’s hard to argue with the 49ers’ leap to the top spot. They thrived while the Eagles, which stayed at No. 2, nearly gave away their game to the Patriots. The Bengals, previously No. 3, struggled mightily in Cleveland, and the pre-season No. 1 Chiefs had a rough go at home against the Lions.
The Dallas Cowboys also dominated their season opener and leapt 13 spots from No. 16 to No. 3.
If San Francisco is as well-rounded for the rest of the year as they were Sunday, they may stick in that top spot for awhile.