The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Steelers embarrassing Week 1 loss vs. 49ers

Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenny Pickett / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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Every week through the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 campaign, I'll diagnose the good, the bad, and the ugly regardless of the outcome of each contest. It's always wise to take note of what went particularly well but also take an extra step to see what can be improved upon. What's working, what can work a bit better, and what appears to be completely broken?

The Steelers opened the 2023 NFL regular season at home for the first time in eight years by hosting one of the NFC's highest-touted teams, the San Francisco 49ers.

Things got ugly early as the promising Steelers offense from the preseason was nowhere to be found. At one point in the first half, The 49ers had 199 yards to the Steelers 1. A late drive gave the Steelers some momentum, a few first downs, and some points, but ultimately it was not enough to sway the momentum in the Steelers' favor.

Defensively, it was difficult for the Steelers to create the necessary carnage to give the Steelers offense short-field opportunities. Despite a clear focus to drown out stars like George Kittel and Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and company dominate much of the afternoon contest in Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers struggled mightily against one of the best teams in football, crushing the hype surrounding the Black and Gold. The Steelers will have time to lick their wounds. Before the clock hit zeros, there were some positives to take away, though not many. Building on those while addressing the bad and worse will be the task before looking to Week 2 where the Cleveland Browns await for a Monday night matchup.

The Good: T.J. Watt Does His Best To Change the Game

T.J. Watt tied the Steelers franchise sack record with James Harrison by recording the 80.5 of his career. He did so by getting three sacks within the first three quarters.

Two of those sacks were strip-sacks. The first didn't result in a turnover as Brock Purdy somehow retained possession with the ball pinned under his back. However, it did spark momentum that translated later into the Steelers' final offensive drive of the first half, which ended with a touchdown.

The second was a fun one, as Watt arrived at Purdy with his fellow Wisconsin Badger Nick Herbig. Watt got full credit for the sack, but it was a sign that Herbig can contribute when he's in the game.

The third one put Watt in the record book as he awaits the next opportunity to take full possession of the Steelers franchise record for sacks. Watt forced another fumble on Purdy and recovered the football clearly. Unfortunately, it didn't result in any points for Pittsburgh.

Watt is a menace in Week 1 just as he is throughout the season. As the best player on the roster, it's on his shoulders to spark the team with his play when momentum is down. He did what he had to do, it just wasn't enough.