PITTSBURGH – The reigning Most Valuable Player of the San Francisco 49ers fielded tough questions after his team was defeated, 43-18, on Sunday.
Antoine Bethea, the team's Bill Walsh award recipient last season, said he expected a heavy dose of Ben Roethlisberger and the downfield threats of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even so, the 49ers were unable to limit the big-play production in a one-sided loss that puts San Francisco 1-1 on the season.
"We didn't do a good enough job today," Bethea said. "Too many big plays. (They were) throwing the ball over our heads. We just didn't do a good enough job today. We have to get that corrected."
Roethlisberger completed 21 of 27 passes for 369 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Pittsburgh's quarterback also posted a 155.8 passer rating on a day where his touchdown throws went to three different targets: tight end Heath Miller, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and wideout Antonio Brown.
Brown was easily the most targeted player for the Steelers. The speedy threat caught nine passes for a game-high 195 yards, including a 59-yard ball in the fourth quarter.
"They were trying us deep," Bethea said. "We knew they were going to do that. We knew with 'Big Ben,' that's his style of game. We knew he was going to take shots. We had to defend that. We didn't do a great job of defending the deep ball."
Bethea backed his defensive coordinator Eric Mangini after the game. The veteran safety the defensive mistakes were due to execution and not play calls.
"They had some big plays on third down to keep their drives going and to stay on the field and that's one way you can't play," Bethea said.
Pitssburgh converted 60 percent of its third downs. The Steelers racked up 453 total yards of offense and scored on all five of their red-zone possessions.
Bethea said the Week 2 loss will not linger in the 49ers locker room.
"The good thing about it is that we have a game next week," he said. "We can come out next week, and do what we do. We still have 14 games left. We don't need to panic, but we do need to go in and clean up the things that we did wrong and come out and play better next week."
San Francisco plays its first of six divisional games next week on the road against the Arizona Cardinals.