Following a tough season-opening loss, it was difficult to find a player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster who was not in need of a bounce-back performance. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum was high on that list after getting flagged for three penalties, giving up a sack, and failing on a number of running plays.
He did improve, fortunately, against the 49ers, as the entire offensive line as a whole played well, particularly in pass protection, with Ben Roethlisberger hardly feeling any pressure throughout the afternoon stroll through the park.
He was, however, not always put in an ideal situation to succeed, as on a screen pass in the middle of the Steelers’ second drive of the game, on which he was tasked with the assignment of getting out to the perimeter to block a defensive back.
While it was not an easy block to make, however, he perhaps took an overly ambitious angle in getting to the much more agile and faster athlete. A more conservative angle may have given him a better chance to throw the block.
Two plays later, however, he showed a nice anchor against the bull rush on a pass that ultimately drew a penalty. As is not unexpected, he gave up some space in the pocket initially before settling down, even winning leverage as he was stood upright.
After the throw was made, Beachum turned back to the pocket to look back at his quarterback. You won’t see this in the gif below, but he literally jogged the five yards separating him and Roethlisberger to help him back up. He’s like a toddler with a beloved stuffed animal. Nobody touches him. Certainly a trait you would want in your blindside protector.
Roethlisberger completed a third and seven early in the second quarter, having all day to throw with a clean pocket provided by his linemen. Beachum and Ramon Foster manhandled the right edge rusher, knocking him to the ground and keeping him there through the duration of the play.
Beachum may never be mistaken for the world’s strongest man, but he displays sufficient functional strength every so often, as on the Steelers’ third rushing touchdown of the day. He was able to drive back the right end a bit at the goal line, though after a while the 49ers line began pushing the line back.
As a result, Beachum ended up on his back, and Roethlisberger reciprocated the care shown earlier by helping his lineman up off the ground after helping to open up the line for another rushing touchdown.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Steelers finally started breaking off a couple of chunk runs on the ground. On a 10-yarder, Beachum got downfield after chipping the end, taking on the inside linebacker before peeling off to knock away a defensive back.
I don’t know why Beachum struggled as much as he did in the first game, but he settled down quite a bit last week. Things won’t get any easier against the Rams and their front line, but the left tackle’s arrow is pointing back the right way after the last game.