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Opponents on Steelers

49ers are talking about Kenny, Najee, Minkah and more

The Steelers take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, and the majority of the talk in the Bay Area this week has been about defensive end Nick Bosa's new contract, which he agreed to this week.

But the 49ers are still talking about the Steelers as the two teams prepare for the game.

"I feel like they play really hard for four quarters," said quarterback Brock Purdy about the defense. "They're a team that I feel like last year they got really hot as a team. They have this fire that they play with and obviously, it starts with their front, their backers, their secondary."

The 49ers weighed in on a variety of topics, including Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, Minkah Fitzpatrick and more.

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Head Coach Kyle Shanahan on the Steelers defense:
"They play as hard as anyone. Their D-Line, their linebackers, their secondary, they all get after it. They're an extremely physical group. We haven't played them for a number of years, but just watching (Cameron) Heyward, watching (T.J.) Watt, Minkah (Fitzpatrick), I mean those guys, not only are they as talented as it gets, but the mindset they play with, the effort they play with. When you don't see a team for a while, not being in the AFC and it's been like three-four years since we've gone against them. You don't know where they've come, and it's very obvious why they won seven out of the last nine games.

"It's just watching the defensive side of the ball and then get into their offense, seeing some of the players they have and the way that quarterback's been playing and the way he played last year at the end of the year. It's been real impressive."

Quarterback Brock Purdy on what stands out about the Steelers when he sees them on film:
"I feel like they play really hard for four quarters. They're a team that I feel like last year they got really hot as a team. They have this fire that they play with and obviously, it starts with their front, their backers, their secondary. They're just well coached and when you watch the film there's just guys that pop out and it's like, 'man, we got to play four quarters really hard against this team.' So, it's going to be a tough opponent and we respect them and they're going to be a team that brings it every single play. There's no plays off I feel like from really anyone on their defense."

Javon Hargrave on what it meant to him to be drafted by the Steelers via the 'Not Just Football' Podcast w/Cameron Heyward:
"As a kid I grew up a Steelers fan. I remember seeing all the names going (on draft night). I am thinking everybody is sleeping on me. I got drafted late third round. I remember seeing the 412 number pop up on my screen and it was Coach T (Mike Tomlin).

"My family knew I was getting drafted but didn't know what team. I had a keychain with the Steelers and I was just showing them. Everybody was screaming, yelling, Coach T couldn't hear me no more. It went from the worst day to the best day of my life."

Hargrave on playing in Pittsburgh:
"Well, God is good. I am coming back to Pittsburgh for the first game (of the season). I get to see you all do Renegade. I am excited to play in Pittsburgh. It's the first one back in the city. I am excited to come home and play in Pittsburgh.

"They drafted me. That's where I started. That is home for me."

Purdy on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick:
"He's all over the film, just flying around, obviously reading the quarterback's eyes. They give him a lot of freedom, I feel like, to be himself and play. And so definitely respect him. But yeah, while watching it and stuff, it's like, man, we got to play our game, we got to play within our scheme not trying to get wrapped up in just one single guy because they have players all across the board, so it's not just him. We respect him, everything that he does, yes. But I got to just play the play that coach calls and do what we're trying to get accomplished throughout the game, every single drive, every single play. So, definitely respect him and what he does. But there's 10 other guys on the field too that are also really good."

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks on the Steelers offense:
"Those guys are playing well. I think the quarterback, second year guy, he is looking phenomenal. He is taking that second-year leap, doing some great things. They have the vertical press down the field that can make things happen at any moment and they have a very impressive, solid run game.

"We definitely got our hands filled with these guys."

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead on Najee Harris:
"He is an amazing player. I have heard about Najee since he was in high school when he got an Alabama offer his freshman or sophomore year in high school. I have been hearing about him for a while.

"He is a great back. It's going to be a challenge to get him down. I think we will be up for the challenge. But he is an amazing player."

Purdy on meeting quarterback Kenny Pickett at the NFL Scouting Combine:
"He was a great guy. Everyone loved being around him. I loved being around him. You know, obviously, we haven't really hung out or anything much outside of that but got to meet him a little bit there and he's a great guy."

Wilks on if Pickett has the offense playing more explosively so far this year:
"I think they're living up to that. He's pushing the ball down the field quite a bit. Definitely have weapons in (George) Pickens. I think he is phenomenal in everything that he does for as catch radius, you throw the ball anywhere close to him, he's pulling it in. So solid run game and they complement that with play-action down the field."

Wilks on how different Pickett is from last season to this season:
"I think he's a little bit more comfortable in the offense and what they ask him to do. He makes great decisions with the ball. Again, I think they have a solid run game, which I think really takes a lot of the pressure off of him having to constantly push the ball down the field and go win a game. They create a lot of balance in what they do. I think again, the play-action down the field has definitely been a difference and it jumps out at you on tape. And the receivers again, they have in Pickens and (Diontae) Johnson, I think are outstanding."

Hargrave on Pickett:
"He was good in the preseason. You can tell he matured a lot. More confident. Throwing the ball deep to those guys, letting playmakers make plays. You can tell he got real comfortable."

Armstead on the first time he played in Pittsburgh his rookie season, a 43-18 Steelers win:
"I remember a lot about that day. It wasn't a good day for us. I haven't played there since my rookie year. Pittsburgh is going to be an amazing atmosphere. They have great fans. A football city. I remember that the atmosphere is going to be great. Some things I don't want to talk about in that game. They can look at the score and see what happened. They were a good team."

Bringing you the action: The Steelers open the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium. For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on mobile, plus NFL RedZone, NFL Network, live audio and more - all in one place. Start your free trial today here.

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