From the Press Room: Steelers vs. 49ers

Disappointing day: Coach Mike Tomin said it plain and simple following the Steelers 30-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium.

"Disappointing day for us," said Tomlin. "Not how we wanted to perform."

Tomlin also gave plenty of credit to the 49ers, who came in with the NFL's reigning top-ranked defense and a slew of weapons on offense.

"You've got to compliment those guys because it unfolded in a manner in which they desired for it to," said Tomlin. "Oftentimes in games like this, the teams that win, the game unfolds more to their personality than the opponent, and no question, the game unfolded in the manner in which we talked about the style of play that they like to play, as far back as I talked to you guys on Tuesday.

"I thought they did a really good job of staying on schedule on offense and being in manageable third downs that allowed them to win enough of those third downs, it'll reduce you in those circumstances where you can't create splash.

"On the other side of the ball, we didn't win enough possession downs to be competitive. You can't start games 0 and 5 on third down and think you're going to have the type of day that you desire. You've got to win the weighty downs.

"It's more than just kind of identifying that component. It was a failure on our part in all areas. We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. We talked about a lot of the things and worked on a lot of the things that unfolded in the way that we didn't want them to, and so we go back to the drawing board.

"We accept responsibility obviously for the outcome. We compliment those guys on the quality of work that they did. We absorb the negativity that comes with how we performed today, and we go back to work. We've got to prepare them better. They've got to play better. That's just the reality of it.

"We got kicked in the teeth today in a lot of ways."

 The 49ers got off to a 20-0 start, before the Steelers were able to get the ball in the end zone just before halftime when Kenny Pickett hit Pat Freiermuth for a three-yard touchdown.

But that would be it for the scoring on the day, with the offense going three-and-out time and time again.

"You don't have enough snaps," said Tomlin. "You're going three-and-out. You can talk about run game, but run game issues were not enough snaps because we were three-and-out.

"We've got to win the weighty downs. Everyone has to win the weighty downs. That's just the lifeblood of ball possession, and we didn't do a good enough job today on either side, but particularly how we started offensively. Not good."

Injury Update: After getting through the preseason without many injuries, the Steelers had multiple players sustain injuries against the 49ers, even though some returned to play at times. Those injuries include Cameron Heyward (groin), DeMarvin Leal (triceps/arm), Pat Freiermuth (chest), Diontae Johnson (hamstring), and Chukwuma Okorafor (concussion protocol).

Learn from miscues: The lack of offensive execution was apparent throughout the Steelers' season-opening, 30-7 loss to San Francisco this afternoon at Acrisure Stadium.

A fourth-and-4 pass from the 49ers' 12-yard line with 5:54 left in the third quarter and the Steelers trying to carve into a 27-7 San Francisco lead that ultimately fell incomplete was as good an example of what plagued them as any.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett tried to hit tight end Pat Freiermuth in the end zone, but the ball sailed past Freiermuth just as Freiermuth was beginning to get his head turned back around to look for a potential throw in his direction.

The pass wasn't rushed due to pressure, Pickett said.

The play misfired, anyway.

"Pat saw it differently than I saw it," Pickett explained. "It's just us communicating and being able to connect on that.

"Listen, it happens. Pat saw it one way, I saw it the other way, it needs to get fixed. Obviously, you put a lot of time in but we'll get it right. I'm not worried about that."

Of a more immediate concern to Pickett was the Steelers responding individually and collectively to the disappointment of the performance against the 49ers in an appropriate fashion without over-reacting to the result.

"It's very important," he emphasized. "I think we have great veterans, and myself, I'm gonna lead the guys the same way I always know how to.

"We're gonna put this behind us. We gotta learn from the miscues, put our best foot forward next week."

Pickett finished 31 for 46 passing for 232 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The second INT was a heave down the seam for tight end Connor Heyward that was tipped by inside linebacker Fred Warner and caught by safety Talanoa Hufanga on first-and-10 from the 49ers' 48 with 10:23 left in the fourth quarter and the 49ers still leading by 20.

"'Tampa 2' (Cover 2), Fred was running down the middle with Connor," Pickett recalled. "Wanted to put it up and over and give Connor a chance. We were playing from behind. At some point you have to push the ball down the field.

"That was it, just taking a chance down the field."

Pickett's first interception occurred on a 1-on-1 sideline shot to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on third-and-5 from the Steelers' 32 on the Steelers' second possession.

Johnson slipped and fell.

Cornerback Charvarius Ward came down with the ball.

The Steelers' first four possessions produced zero first downs and -3 total net yards (-1 passing, -2 rushing).

"Just trying to get a first down and get in rhythm," Pickett said. "You move the chains a little bit, you get in a rhythm, you start playing the football that we know we can play.

"We didn't do that. Gotta get first downs early, move the chains and get guys settled into the game."

Needing to start fast: After a preseason where the Steelers were able to start out fast in every phase of the game, it was the opposite on Sunday against the 49ers.

The offense wasn't able to get on the board until the end of the first half, and that was it in the 30-7 loss, and the defense wasn't able to stop an explosive 49ers offense, giving up 20 points in the first half, and then allowing the 49ers to score on a two-play drive to start the second half.

"You guys watched the preseason," said linebacker T.J. Watt. "We were able to start fast in all three phases of the game, and today was definitely not like that. Even to be able to stop the bleeding coming out at halftime and have them have a two-play 70-plus-yard drive is not acceptable at all.

"It's a matter of starting fast, not just in the first half but also coming out in the second half, going as hard as we can to give the offense the ball back, which we weren't able to do."

The 49ers were six-for-13 on third down, and converted one fourth down, while amassing 22 first downs and 391 total yards, including 188 yards rushing.

"We've just got to get off the field," said Watt. "If we handle our business and do our job, we're not going to be on the field as much as we were today, and it comes down to having manageable second and third down opportunities, which leads to a higher conversion percentage for them."

Watt was one of the brights spots on the day with three sacks, five tackles, five hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one pass defensed.

His three sacks tied him with James Harrison for most sacks in Steelers history at 80.5.

But Watt wasn't interested in individual performance after the game.

"I mean, really I don't want to diminish what it is, but I'm just super upset about the result of today, not happy with it, not acceptable on many levels, and there's so many more plays to be made out there, myself included," said Watt. "Just looking at a lot of the runs, what we can do better, what I can do better, and we need to improve quickly, and we have a tough opponent coming up this week, so we need to get in the lab."

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