SANTA CLARA, Ca. _The Steelers fall to 0-3 after losing the San Francisco 49ers, 24-20, at Levi’s Stadium.
The defense came up with five takeaways, but it wasn’t enough. A late fumble by James Conner lead to the 49ers game-winning touchdown.
The 49ers were driving to re-gain the lead, when the defense came up with their fifth takeaway of the game. On an aborted play, the receiver was in motion and the ball was snapped early, hit Richie James Jr. and T.J. Watt came up with the recovery at the Steelers 14-yard line. But the 49ers got the ball right back when James Conner’s fumble was recovered by DeForest Buckner at the Steelers 24-yard line. The 49ers would make it count. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Dante Pettis for a five-yard touchdown to give them a 24-20 lead, which would seal the win.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 39-yard deep ball to wide receiver Diontae Johnson, put the Steelers back in front. Kicker Chris Boswell’s extra point made it 20-17, with 10:22 left in the fourth quarter.
Running back Jeff Wilson Jr.’s second touchdown of the game, this one a 4-yard blast on first-and-goal, helped put the 49ers back on top at 17-13 with 4:46 left in the third quarter. San Francisco responded to falling behind 13-10 with a 10-play, 75-yard march in 4:46.
A big play had allowed the Steelers to regain the lead with 5:42 left in the third quarter.
Rudolph hit wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crossing route on third-and-4 from the Steelers’ 26-yard line and Smith-Schuster got to the boundary, turned up the field and didn’t stop until he’d crossed the goal line. The 76-yard, catch-and-run touchdown included about 65 yards gained after the catch, Smith Schuster eluding cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and free safety Tarvarius Moore, and a downfield block by tight end Xavier Grimble on inside linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Kicker Chris Boswell’s extra point put the Steekers ahead, 13-10.
The Steelers had taken a 6-3 lead into the third quarter but it didn’t last long.
Rudolph was intercepted on second-and-5 from the Steelers’ 32 on the first possession of the second half after having been flushed from the pocket and pressured by defensive end Arik Armstead. Cornerback K’Waun Williams’ pick put the 49ers in business at the Steelers’ 38-yard-line.
Wilson Jr.’s 1-yard plunge on third-and-goal from the 1 capped an eight-play drive in 4:02 that gave the 49ers a 10-6 lead.
Boswell opened the scoring with a 46-yard field goal with 11:47 left in the first quarter.
The scoring drive featured three completions on Rudolph’s first three attempts but only covered 5 yards following outside linebacker T.J. Watt’s interception of a bobbled screen pass and 7-yard return to the San Francisco 33-yard line.
Boswell connected for the third time in as many games and for the fourth time in four tries overall this season.
San Francisco’s third possession produced the same result as its first, the 49ers turned the ball over and the Steelers converted an interception into a field goal.
This time it was free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick collecting the carom of a pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that deflected off wide receiver Dante Pettis. Fitzpatrick’s 14-yard return set the Steelers up at the 49ers’ 24, but the Steelers ultimately settled for a 26-yard field goal by Boswell.
By then the trend had apparently been set.
The 49ers turned the ball over again on each of their next two possessions, both times in Steelers’ territory.
Inside linebacker Devin Bush recovered a fumble at the Steelers’ 9 with 14:51 left in the second quarter. Running back Raheem Mostert was initially separated from the football by Fitzpatrick.
Bush jumped on a subsequent loose ball at the Steelers’ 7 with 11:25 remaining prior to halftime after a fumble by Garappolo on a snap.
The 49ers forced a three-and-out following their fourth turnover and took over at the Steelers’ 49 following a punt.
This time San Francisco put together a nine-play, 43-yard drive in 3:52 that concluded with a 24-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould 6:45 before the break.
Fitzpatrick made his Steelers debut and Rudolph made his first NFL start.
The Steelers lost tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) in the second quarter.
The interceptions by Watt and Fitzpatrick were the Steelers’ first two of the season.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium