The Steelers will face a huge test on Sunday when they head west to take on the San Francisco 49ers, who are off to a 2-0 start.
And they will be doing it with a quarterback who will be making his first NFL start in Mason Rudolph.
The 49ers, though, expect a motivated Steelers team to bring everything this week and whether there are some new pieces or not, it’s going to be a battle.
“This is going to be a very physical game between both teams,” said Coach Kyle Shanahan. “It’s very important for both teams to win this game. I know it’s going to come down to the last series.”
The 49ers also weighed in on Rudolph, Minkah Fitzpatrick and more.
Coach Kyle Shanahan on how different the Steelers are without Ben Roethlisberger:
“Anytime they don’t have Ben, that’s a huge deal. Ben’s one of the best quarterbacks of our generation so I know that’s got to be a huge blow for them. But, I know (Mason) Rudolph will be ready. He’ll step in. They’ve always had a good scheme. They know what they’re doing and they’ve got some other payers out there too. It’s still the NFL, it’s going to be a very tough game. Anytime you lose a guy like Ben Roethlisberger, everyone knows how good he is and I still think he’s underrated. It’s a big blow for them.”
Shanahan on his impression of Rudolph coming out of college:
“I always knew he was a good player. I didn’t put a lot into him because we knew what direction we were going in and knew we weren’t going after a quarterback. Our quarterback’s coach looks at him a lot. Always shows me the highlight tapes. He knew he was a guy who was very smart, could run a system and also can make plays. Just watching him in the preseason and against Seattle, he can make some off schedule plays and he also seems like a quarterback who stays in the rhythm of the offense very well.”
Shanahan on the preparation difference for Rudolph vs. Roethlisberger:
“Obviously there is going to be a difference when you lose someone like Ben. The way he plays is unique to everyone. Ben has a style that you only see with Ben that has made him one of the best quarterbacks of our generation. You know it’s going to be somewhat different, but we still don’t know how. We have to prepare for everything and be ready for how it’s different in the game. We know it’s going to be a little different. You don’t just run a whole new offense because you change one guy. The first game with him starting you have to see what is different and be ready to adjust.”
Shanahan on how the defensive scheme will change with Minkah Fitzpatrick:
“I think it’s the same thing as Rudolph. You know there might be something different. I am very well aware of how good of a player Minkah is and all of the stuff he is capable of doing. But you don’t want to make a lot of stuff up as coaches, which we have a tendency to do because we are a little paranoid and we overthink everything. I am not going to sit there and worry about stuff that is just guessing. You have a very good feel for their defense and what they have always done. You watch during the game and when something is different it will stick out. Then you figure out why they are doing it and you try to counteract it.”
Quarterback Jimmy Garapolo on if he expects to see a lot of Fitzpatrick on Sunday:
“Yeah, they traded for him for a reason, so yeah we’d expect to see him out there. We’ll see what they do. I mean, learning a new defense and everything can be tough, so it’ll be interesting. He’s a hell of a player. Very, very physical, can cover very well.”
Shanahan on what Fitzpatrick can do for the defense:
“He can play any position, which everyone knows. Which is a huge advantage for the defense. You never know where they can put him and match people up. That can always change things on third down. Just how you target stuff, what position they put him at. I think it would be very hard for a guy like that to come play right away with only three practices, but I also know Minkah is a different dude mentally. He can handle a lot of stuff. I expect him to be out there a ton.”
Garapolo on what he sees from the Steelers defense:
“They’ve always had a personality to them. Just a big, physical group. They like to get after you, bring some challenging blitzes and everything like that and put you in tough spot. But, that defense every year, they do a great job of replacing guys and still being a good, solid defense.”