Cameron Heyward, Diontae Johnson injured in Steelers ugly loss vs. 49ers

Things couldn't have gone much worse for the Steelers in Week 1.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The excitement surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the 2023 season quickly went down the tubes. After an amazing preseason performance from Kenny Pickett and company, fans were glowingly optimistic that Pittsburgh would carry this momentum into the regular season. However, we certainly didn't see that in Week 1.

Against a formidable opponent in the San Francisco 49ers, the Steelers had their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, they got in a massive hole early in the contest After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Niners instantly marched the ball down the field for the score.

Things got worse from there, as Pickett threw an interception on his second possession which the 49ers turned into another 7 points. With poor play on both sides of the football for the Steelers, San Francisco eventually jumped out to a 20-0 lead early in the contest. The only thing that gave Steelers fans hope was a touchdown with time expiring in the first half.

By the end of the game, the Steelers offense managed just 239 yards on a dismal 3.9 yards per play, per ESPN stats. Kenny Pickett finished with a stat line of 232 yards and 5.0 yards per attempt with 1 touchdown and 1 interception and a cringeworthy 68.4 passer rating. Pittsburgh would go on to lose 30-7.

Steelers bit hard by the injury bug in the Week 1 loss

If getting humiliated on their home turf in Week 1 wasn't embarrassing enough, the Pittsburgh Steelers now have a couple of big injuries to worry about. Cameron Heyward suffered a groin injury early in the contest. the former All-Pro defensive lineman tried coming back in and giving it a go, but he quickly exited and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Early in the second half, Diontae Johnson went down in obvious pain holding his hamstring. Johnson did not return to the game and was quickly ruled out. These weren't the only two players who were banged up in this contest. DeMarvin Leal was in and out of the lineup, while Najee Harris hobbled off the field in the second half.

In addition, Mike Tomlin confirmed following the game that offensive tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor, was in concussion protocol. In his absence late in the game, Broderick Jones came in at left tackle and Dan Moore Jr. shifted over to right tackle.

The Steelers were humiliated against the 49ers in Week 1 of the 2023 season, but they may have problems that persist in Week 2 and beyond. While we don't yet know the severity of the injuries to Heyward and Johnson, we do know that their absences could have a big impact on Pittsburgh moving forward.

Mike Tomlin and his staff need to go back to the drawing board. This was an abysmal showing all around, and the coaching staff and players share equal blame for the outcome. It's time to put this ugly loss behind them and look ahead to next week to next week against the Cleveland Browns. One thing is for sure: They can't have another showing like this.