Steelers get utterly embarrassed early by 49ers in the first half of Week 1

Things got ugly (and really fast) for the Steelers in Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

This was not an ideal start to the 2023 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the preseason, Mike Tomlin's team was brilliant, and many thought that would carry over into Week 1, but that couldn't have been further from the case. Things got ugly really fast in the opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

It started with a three-and-out by the Steelers on the opening position that ended with a massive sack taken by Kenny Pickett for a 10-yard loss. This led to excellent starting field position for the 49ers on their first offensive possession.

In what seemed like an instant, QB Brock Purdy marched his team down the field for a seven-play, 54-yard touchdown drive, per ESPN stats. When the Steelers got the ball back the second time around, the results were even worse. Pittsburgh earned just 5 yards on three plays before Pickett threw an interception on a pass intended for Diontae Johnson.

Sadly, things didn't get any better for the Steelers in the first half after this incredibly sluggish start. It was much of the same over the first two quarters. Pittsburgh would stall on offense and the 49ers would take advantage of good field position.

By the end of the first half, the Pittsburgh Steelers had just 77 yards on offense while allowing a whopping 223 yards to the 49ers. Pittsburgh gained a bit of momentum heading into the half with a score just before time expired in the second quarter, but they trail 20-7.

And yeah, things have gone every bit as bad as the score would indicate.

Steelers must get out of this slump

To make matters worse, Cameron Heyward suffered a groin injury very early in the contest. His absence against one of the best running teams in the NFL was very noticeable, as Christian McCaffery and the Niners ate them alive for 69 yards and 4.3 yards per carry in the first half. The 49ers passing game was even better, and the Steelers could have used Heyward when getting after the quarterback.

This was about as bad of a first half as you could imagine from a professional football team -- let alone a team coached by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers head coach was previously 10-5-1 all-time in Week 1, but this one could leave an ugly stain on his resume. Let's hope they can turn things around soon.