Let’s address the elephant in the room right away. The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had a ton of success or luck on the west coast throughout the team’s history. Just 1-5 under Mike Tomlin on the west coast and 19-39 all time, the Steelers are going to have to defeat history in order to keep their season afloat this Sunday when they take on the San Francisco 49ers.
Here are all the other key stats you should know before Sunday’s game.
1.36 – There’s fair share of blame to go around for the defense’s early struggles. The offense also deserves some criticism for not giving the defense a chance to catch their breath. The Steelers rank near the bottom in every offensive category such as average drive length, net yards per drive and points per drive. The Steelers are averaging just 1.36 points per drive, 27th in the NFL, while their average drive length of 2:21 also ranks 26th in the NFL. Not only are the Steelers not putting points on the board like they should, they are also not giving the defense an opportunity to regroup. If this team does plan to turn their year around, the offense is going to have to be more sustainable.
4 – All eyes are going to be on quarterback Mason Rudolph this Sunday as the second-year quarterback makes his first career start against the 49ers. The list of Steelers’ quarterbacks who have emerged victorious in their first career start is a very brief list, consisting of just four names. Steelers’ quarterbacks making their first career start are just 4-19-1 throughout the team’s history. The four winning quarterbacks are Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Steve Bono (1987), Mike Kruczek (1976) and Ted Marchibroda (1956). Rudolph is going to need to pull out a big game Sunday if he wants to become the fifth Steelers’ quarterback to win their first career start.
10 – The Steelers offensive line is going to have their hands full Sunday as they go up against Nick Bosa and the rest of the 49ers’ defensive line. Bosa leads all rookies this season with 10 pressures through two games as he terrorized the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line last weekend. With Rudolph making his first career start, his protection is going to be vital to his success which is why Alejandro Villanueva versus Bosa is going to be a matchup to watch all afternoon.
28 – The Steelers have started 0-3 once under Mike Tomlin but what they have never done during his tenure is allow 28 points or more in three consecutive games to open the season. That streak is in serious jeopardy of falling this weekend as the Steelers prepare for a daunting trip to the west coast to take on the 49ers. The 49ers have come storming out of the gate, as they have scored 31 and 41 points in their first two contests. While the 49ers offense ranks third in the league in points scored through two weeks, it has been a different story for a Steelers’ defense that ranks 28th in points allowed.
33 – James Washington and Rudolph have been creating touchdowns together since 2014, when they were both teammates at Oklahoma State. Now, they have the chance to create more touchdowns, just this time it will be at the NFL level. Washington’s numbers exploded when Rudolph became Oklahoma State’s permanent quarterback in 2015, as Washington recorded 198 receptions for 4016 yards and 33 touchdowns from 2015 to 2017. Look for the duo to try recreating that Oklahoma State magic this Sunday and for the remainder of the season.
273 – The number to the left is the number of days that have passed since the Steelers last recorded an interception. By the time kickoff rolls around, 273 days will have surpassed since the Steelers last recorded an interception. The last time the Steelers recorded an interception in the regular season was December 23 2018 when Sean Davis picked off Taysom Hill in the end zone. Since then, Drew Brees, Jeff Driskel, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson have thrown a combined 132 passes against the Steelers defense without allowing an interception. It goes without saying that giving Rudolph and the offense a short field to operate in would help greatly.