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Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey help 49ers dominate Steelers

Sep 10, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey scored on a long run and the San Francisco 49ers rolled to a 30-7 victory over the host Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.

Purdy completed 19 of 29 passes for 220 yards and McCaffrey rushed for 152 on 22 carries as the 49ers controlled the contest. Aiyuk caught eight passes for 129 yards, Drake Jackson had three sacks and Charvarius Ward and Talanoa Hufanga had interceptions for San Francisco.

Kenny Pickett was 31-of-46 passing for 232 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Steelers, who were outgained 391 to 239. The 49ers sacked Pickett five times.

T.J. Watt recorded three sacks and forced two fumbles (recovering one) during a standout performance for the Steelers. Watt tied the franchise record for career sacks (80.5), set by James Harrison in 177 games with Pittsburgh. Watt played in his 88th on Sunday.

San Francisco star Nick Bosa had two tackles in his first action since ending his holdout Wednesday and signing a five-year, $170 million extension to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. Bosa is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Steelers lost six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (groin) in the second quarter.

The 49ers possessed the ball for 37:23.

San Francisco dominated the first 28 1/2 minutes of the game while scoring 20 consecutive points.

Purdy threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Aiyuk with 9:29 left in the first quarter and rookie Jake Moody added a 41-yard field goal with 4:38 remaining.

Just 90 seconds into the second quarter, Purdy and Aiyuk teamed up on a 19-yard score to make it 17-0. Moody tacked on a 32-yard field goal with 8:22 left in the half.

The Steelers had zero first downs and one yard of total offense when they took over with 1:35 left in the half. Helped by two penalties on San Francisco’s Deommodore Lenoir, Pittsburgh moved 95 yards on 12 plays with Pickett tossing a 3-yard scoring pass to Pat Freiermuth with 10 seconds remaining.

San Francisco re-established its superiority in the opening minute of the third quarter when McCaffrey ran 65 yards down the left side for a touchdown. Aiyuk’s block on Pittsburgh’s Damontae Kazee at midfield opened up the sideline for McCaffrey as he finished off a score that made it 27-7.

Moody finished off a 3-for-3 NFL debut with a 40-yard field goal with 5:30 remaining.

–Field Level Media

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