4 bold predictions for the Steelers vs. 49ers in week 1

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39)
Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 4

Steelers Kenny Pickett comes back down to earth

Kenny Pickett was a very mixed bag during his rookie season. While he got better as the year went on, he lacked the ability to make big plays and was also turnover-prone. The Steelers, in turn, built their offense around the ground game this offseason to take some pressure off of him.

Then the preseason came and went, and suddenly some view Pickett as a potential elite quarterback this season. While I was impressed with his performance, I still find myself struggling to see a major jump in his play this year. It needs to be better, but I can’t see him being that gunslinger many seemingly expect him to be.

I think that comes to light in this first game. Pickett doesn’t look abysmal, but his sharpness and efficiency are less prevalent with an elite defensive line coming after him. He misses some openings, forces some passes, and overall struggles to mimic the nearly perfect tape he had in the preseason.

While he doesn’t find the end zone once through the air, he also throws a pair of interceptions that limit this offense. The offense doesn’t stall out, as the running game as well as the check-down passing game still work, but Pickett looks more like his rookie self than the superstar that he hinted at in the preseason.