Studs and Duds from 49ers’ Week 1 blowout win vs. Steelers

On the opening weekend of the new NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers made a statement with a dominant performance on the road.

Behind Brock Purdy, Brandon Aiyuk and a commanding defensive effort, the 49ers cruised to a 30-7 rout over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Week 1 on Sunday.

The 49ers’ offense punched in seven scoring drives while racking up 391 yards of total office. Defensively, the 49ers forced a pair of turnovers with two interceptions off Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Although there won’t be meant duds from the 49ers’ balanced performance against the Steelers, here’s a look at some of the studs and duds from Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh.

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Stud: Brock Purdy

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Despite coming back from a significant injury and buzz of turnovers throughout training camp, Brock Purdy picked up right where he left off from his breakout campaign last season.

Purdy showed no signs of rust, dealing a pair of touchdown tosses while passing for 220 yards on 19-of-29 passing.

The sophomore passer had command of Shanahan’s offense and looked poised with T.J. Watt looming. Purdy operated multiple drives with few mistakes, showing similar flashes that earned him the starting position last season.

One of Purdy’s shining moments of the day came when he striped a ball down the sideline to Brandon Aiyuk with pinpoint touch and accuracy for their second touchdown connection against the Steelers.

With each performance, Purdy is continuing to prove he undoubtedly belongs under center for the 49ers.

Stud: Brandon Aiyuk

 Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to buy the hype. Brandon Aiyuk looked like he took his first step towards a breakout campaign in his third season in the NFL. Aiyuk caught a pair of touchdowns from Purdy while also serving as his safety blanket against the Steelers.

With Purdy under center, Purdy caught eight balls on his way a game-high 129 yards receiving. Aiyuk caused havoc for Steelers veteran corner Patrick Peterson, getting the best of him for two touchdowns.

Along with catching passes, Aiyuk cleared the way for Christian McCaffrey with a clutch block downfield on a 65-yard touchdown run.

Dud: Colton McKivitz

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Right tackle Colton McKivitz was one of the few members of the 49ers who struggled on Sunday. However, he drew one of the toughest matchups in all of the NFL, blocking three-time All-Pro and former Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt.

Whenever the Steelers showed signs of life, it was due to Watt beating McKivitz. Watt had three sacks to go along with five tackles. Watt nearly caused a turnover with a forced fumble on Purdy.

As long as McKivitz isn’t giving up pressures consistently, it isn’t time to worry yet. But, his progression at right tackle should be something to monitor going forward. It will be interesting to watch how the third-year tackle out of West Virginia competes against edge rushers not named Watt.


Stud: Drake Jackson

Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

While most of the headlines followed Nick Bosa this week, it was Drake Jackson who took over on the 49ers defensive line on Sunday against the Steelers.

On the opening drive of the NFL season, Jackson helped force a three-and-out with a sack on third down. Jackson’s early sack helped set the tone for an impressive performance from the second-year pass rusher.

Jackson tacked on another two sacks for the hat trick on Sunday against the Steelers. In his rookie season, Jackson registered three sacks over 15 games. With a strong performance against the Steelers, Jackson has already matched his sack total from his rookie season in Week 1 of his second season.

Duds: Penalties

While the 49ers’ scoreboard showed a lopsided victory, there were still some Week 1 common hiccups.

Shanahan’s squad was flagged for 11 penalties for 85 yards. The 49ers’ 11 penalties were the second most in Week 1, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens with 13 penalties.

With another contest on the road in week two, Shanahan and the 49ers will have to clean up the penalties in Los Angeles against the Rams.

Studs: Charvarius Ward

 Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

While the 49ers’ defensive line caused havoc in front of Kennt Pickett, the 49ers secondary played tight coverage in a tough matchup against Dionte Johnson and George Pickens.

On an arrant throw from Pickett in the first quarter, Charvarius Ward capitalized with his first interception of the season. In his first season with the 49ers’ Ward impressed, but only recorded one interception all year.

In his first game in 2023, Ward already secured his first pick.

Duds: Elijah Mitchell

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey deserves a spot on the duds list, but you can make that argument every week. Which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. McCaffrey went off for 152 yards rushing on 22 carries.

However, leaning on McCaffrey heavily throughout the season could be problematic for the 49ers. Shanahan’s offense will need another runner to provide some balance and change of pace to the backfield.

Elijah Mitchell received five carries and ran for 10 yards. Despite holding a commanding lead for most of the contest, Shanahan opted to use McCaffrey more often than mixing in Mitchell.

With Ty Davis Price inactive and Jordan Mason staying on the sideline, Mitchell will need to step up to command the role behind McCaffrey in San Francisco’s offense.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire