Cheat Sheet: Steelers vs. 49ers


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The Steelers are at home as they face the 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.
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The Steelers have been to the Super Bowl eight times, winning six of them. San Francisco has been to seven Super Bowls have won five championships. Yet these two winning organizations have yet to meet in the championship game. The Steelers and 49ers have met in the regular season 22 times going back to 1951. San Francisco has won 12 of those matchups. The Steelers only won two of the first seven games, but have won eight of 15 meetings since. Between 1973 and 1987, Pittsburgh lost just one of the six meetings. Neither team has been able to put a winning streak together in this series over the past seven games with the 49ers winning most recent game, 24-20, in 2019 in San Francisco.


  • San Francisco finished the 2022 season with a 13-4 record, having won its final 10 games. Pittsburgh finished 9-8 with a four-game winning streak of its own. The Steelers were outscored by their opponents by 38 points while San Francisco's plus-173 point differential was the best in the league over 17 games. However, after Pittsburgh's Week 9 bye week, the Steelers were 7-2 with a point differential of plus-39. 
  • Only the Commanders, Browns and Bengals were better in time of possession than San Francisco, but the Steelers finished the season sixth in the NFL, holding the ball for 31:18 per game. 
  • San Francisco's plus-13 turnover differential was the best in the league last year. But only eight teams had a better differential than the Steelers, whose defense had the most interceptions in the league (tied with San Francisco with 20), but the fewest fumble recoveries. Only Dallas created more turnovers than the 49ers. Only the Giants and Lions had fewer giveaways than San Francisco. The Steelers had the fifth-fewest turnovers. The Giants and Lions were the only teams with fewer interceptions thrown than San Francisco. The Raiders were the only team lost fewer fumbles than Pittsburgh. After the Steelers' Week 9 bye, they only turned the ball over five times. 
  • The 49ers played just five games against an opponent that finished the season with a winning record. But they were 4-1 in such games, with their lone loss coming against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. 
  • By DVOA, the 49ers played the second-easiest schedule in the league last season. The Steelers played the second-most difficult. San Francisco's offense faced the easiest slate of defenses. Pittsburgh's faced the fourth-most difficult. The 49ers defense faced the fifth-easiest slate of opposing offenses. The Steelers played against the fourth-most difficult. 
  • San Francisco won a league-high 11 games by more than one score and only one team had a lead at halftime more often than the 49ers in 2022. 
  • Only four NFL franchises have a winning record in each of the past four seasons: Kansas City, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Miami. 
  • The Steelers only scored two touchdowns last year from outside the red zone. That was the fewest in the league. San Francisco scored 16 such touchdowns. Only the Eagles and Raiders had more.


  • Pittsburgh's 4.9 yards per play was only better than the Cardinals, Colts, Rams and Texans. The 49ers defense gave up 4.9 yards per play. Only the Eagles and Jets defenses were better. 
  • The Steelers offense was the NFL's youngest and healthiest in 2022. 
  • The Steelers utilized 11 Personnel (1 RB/1 TE) and 12 Personnel (1 RB/2 TE) at the NFL's 11th- and 12th-highest rates respectively. Combined, Pittsburgh's offense was in one of these two personnel groupings for 88.8 percent of its snaps. However, after trading Chase Claypool, the Steelers dropped their usage of 11 Personnel from 86 percent to 66 percent the remainder of the season. When in 11 Personnel before the Claypool trade, Pittsburgh's offense average 5.9 yards per play. When in 11 Personnel after the trade, the Steelers offense averaged 7.3 yards per play. 
  • The Steelers ranked seventh in scoring rate per drive and third in yards per drive following their Week 9 bye. Only the Chiefs and Lions averaged more yards per drive after Week 9. 
  • The Steelers were first in the NFL in plays per drive, but 19th in yards per drive and 23rd in points per drive. 
  • During the first halves of games last year, the Steelers threw the ball 51 percent of the time, the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL. 
  • Pittsburgh was the first team since the 2019 Colts to start the same five offensive linemen for every game of the season.
  • When the Steelers had a single play of 15 or more yards on a drive, they scored points 62 percent of the time. When they did not, that scoring rate dropped to 18 percent. 
  • Diontae Johnson received 18 red zone targets last year. Pat Freiermuth was targeted 13 times in the red zone. No other Steelers pass catcher had more than seven such targets.
  • The Steelers had the No. 1 receiver duo (Johnson and George Pickens) at drawing defensive pass interference calls in 2022. 
  • San Francisco allowed the fewest yards per game of any defense last year. The 49ers were also first in points allowed, giving up just 16.3 points per game. On a per-drive basis, San Francisco allowed just 1.42 points per drive in 2022, the best in the league. 
  • The 49ers defense forced a three-and-outs on 40 percent of their drives. That was the highest percentage in the NFL. 
  • Kenny Pickett's average time to throw was 2.98 seconds. Only five qualifying quarterbacks held the ball longer on average. 
  • The Steelers averaged 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Only the Cardinals, Texans, Buccaneers and Colts averaged less. 
  • Pickens gained at least 20 yards on 32.7 percent of his receptions. That was the highest rate in the NFL. Of wide receivers with at least 50 routes run, Pickens was 76th in targets per route run, but 55th in yards per route run. 
  • Freiermuth was targeted on 22.1 percent of his routes run. That was the fourth-highest percentage of the 28 tight ends that ran at least 300 routes last season. Only five tight ends with 50 or more targets produced a higher yards per route run than Freiermuth. 
  • No skill position player in the league has more touches since 2021 than Najee Harris. 
  • Nick Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 18.5 sacks last year. Only Haason Reddick had more. Nine teams had more sacks than San Francisco's 44.
  • No defense had six defensive backs on the field last year less than the 49ers. 
  • No offense ran into an eight-man (or more) box more than the Steelers in 2022. However, when doing so, only one offense was more successful. 
  • Pittsburgh gained positive yards on 83.6 percent of its rushing attempts. That was fourth-best in the league. 
  • San Francisco's defense allowed just 3.4 yards per rush attempt, tied with the Titans for tops in the league. And only the Titans gave up fewer rushing yards per game. Just 5.9 percent of the rushing attempts against the 49ers gained 10+ yards. That was best in the NFL. San Francisco also allowed the lowest percentage of runs gaining at least 20 yards and didn't give up a run over 30 yards all year. 
  • Pittsburgh's offense converted third downs at the NFL's seventh-highest rate. It converted fourth downs at the third-best rate.


  • San Francisco averaged 5.9 yards per play last year. Only three offenses were better. The Steelers defense gave up 5.5 yards per play.
  • Only two offenses utilized three or more wide receivers at a lesser percentage than San Francisco. The 49ers were in 21 Personnel (2 RB/1 TE) the second-highest percentage in the league and in 22 Personnel (2 RB/2 TE) the third-highest percent of their offensive snaps. 
  • Just one offense utilized pre-snap motion at a higher percentage of the time than the 49ers. 
  • When defining explosive plays as runs of 10-or-more yards and pass plays of 20-plus yards, only the Eagles, Bears and Ravens bettered San Francisco's offense in terms of percentage of explosive offensive plays. 
  • The 49ers offense was fifth-best in percentage of drives (27 percent) that resulted in three-and-outs. 
  • Only two offenses ran the ball a higher percentage of the time (57 percent) on first downs. League average is 50 percent. But San Francisco averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt on first downs. League average was 7.3.
  • The Packers were the only team to take longer between snaps last year than San Francisco. And only the Chiefs used no-huddle at a lower percentage of their snaps. 
  • Four different quarterbacks, as well as Christian McCaffrey, attempted a pass for San Francisco last season. Collectively, the 49ers averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt. Only Miami, Philadelphia and Kansas City were better. However, only three offenses had a shorter average depth of target.
  • Brock Purdy averaged 3.6 completions resulting in gains of 20 or more yards per start. That was the third-highest all quarterbacks appearing in five or more games last year. However, Purdy only completed 33.3 percent of his passes 20 or more yards downfield, which was 4.8 percent worse than league average. Purdy was at his best between 10 and 20 yards downfield, completing 60.5 percent of such passes, which was 10.2 percent better than league average. 
  • Of the 47 quarterbacks that attempted 100 or more passes last year, Purdy's 152.7 yards per game comes in 41st, but his yards per attempt (8.08) is fourth-best. But only four qualified quarterbacks had a shorter average depth of target (6.9). 
  • In the five games Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and McCaffrey all played with Purdy, Samuel saw .26 targets per route run compared to .23 for McCaffrey, and .19 for Aiyuk and Kittle. 
  • Of running backs that were targeted at least 25 times last year, only five were targeted more often on a per route run basis than McCaffrey, and only Derrick Henry and Breece Hall produced more yards per route run. Austin Ekeler is the only running back in the league with more than McCaffrey's 717 yards after the catch. Jerick McKinnon was the only back with more receiving touchdowns in 2022. 
  • The 49ers led the NFL in average yards after the catch for the fifth-straight season. However, only four defenses had a lesser percentage of their passing yards allowed after the catch last year than the Steelers. 
  • Over the past five seasons, Kittle averages 5.5 receptions and 70.8 receiving yards per game. Only Travis Kelce is better during that timeframe. Purdy was San Francisco's starting quarterback for the final six regular season games. During that time, Kittle caught seven touchdowns. Last year, Kittle's 1.97 yards per route run was fourth best of all tight ends with at least 50 targets. 
  • Pittsburgh's defense gave up a 61.3 percent completion percentage last year. Only five defenses were better. 
  • San Francisco averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt. That was best in the NFL. 
  • Washington is the only defense that saw a larger percentage of pass attempts between the numbers last year than the Steelers. 
  • The Steelers had five defensive backs on the field for 49 percent of their snaps last year. Only three defenses used their nickel package a lower percentage of the time. 
  • Alex Highsmith's 14.5 sacks were only bettered by five players last year. The Steelers rushed six of more defenders 6.1 percent of the time in 2022, the third-highest percentage in the NFL. But only one defense rushed three at a lower percentage than Pittsburgh.  
  • San Francisco's quarterbacks were sacked just 31 times, the sixth-fewest in the league. 
  • The Steelers defense gave up just 3.6 points per game on average in the third quarter of games. Only eight defenses were better. 
  • Of all the rushing attempts the Steelers faced last year, just 1.6 percent of those resulted in a touchdown. That was the lowest percentage in the NFL. On average, the Steelers defense gave up .4 rushing touchdowns per game, also the lowest in the league. 
  • While San Francisco was sixth-best in converting third downs, the 49ers were 29th converting on fourth down.


  • Of all the field goal kickers in NFL history with at least 100 attempts, Chris Boswell's 86.3% is the 11th all time. Boswell has made 90 percent of his attempts or better in five of his eight seasons with the Steelers, but his 71.4 percentage last year was the second-worst of his career. Boswell missed five games in 2022 with a groin injury. 
  • San Francisco's first draft pick this year was used for Jake Moody with the 99th overall selection. Moody is the earliest drafted place kicker since 2016. 
  • The Steelers made 77 percent of their field goal attempts last year. Their opponents made 88 percent. That was one of the largest discrepancies in the league.


October 14th, 1984: Steelers 20, 49ers 17, Candlestick Park

If it were not for this loss to the Steelers, San Francisco would have been the second team in history to have a perfect season. The Steelers were 3-3 heading into this road trip, while San Francisco sat at 6-0. Pittsburgh possessed the football for 34:45 and rushed for 175 yards, keeping Joe Montana and company off the field. After finishing 15-1 in the regular season, the 49ers went on to win Super Bowl XIX over Miami, the franchise's second Super Bowl victory.


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49ers RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Steelers Inside Linebackers
The only game McCaffrey has lost in a 49ers uniform was last year's NFC Championship Game, after the 49ers lost their quarterbacks to injuries. He very well could be the NFL's best running back and is as multifaceted of a back as there has been in the league in recent memory. McCaffrey is a rare receiving weapon, and the 49ers deploy him exceptionally well. Pittsburgh has an all-new group of inside linebackers from a year ago. That group will be thrown into deep end right from the start dealing with McCaffrey as well as Kittle, one of the league's best tight ends. Over his career, McCaffrey averages 113.1 yards from scrimmage per game. Only five players have averaged more in the history of the NFL. 

Steelers Passing Game vs. 49ers LB Fred Warner
Attacking the middle of the field for Pittsburgh's passing game was problematic last year, but that looks to be changing quite a bit. However, Warner in the best linebacker in the NFL and is a rare coverage player. He can carry slot wide receivers deep down the field as well as match up well to the best tight ends and running backs in the league. Warner quarterbacks the 49ers defense with great expertise and is a very difficult defender to play against. He's a superb playmaker. Warner also isn't too shabby against the run.