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What We Learned from 49ers vs. Steelers

PITTSBURGH – Jim Tomsula's Pittsburgh homecoming was not what he envisioned.

The San Francisco 49ers gave up 21 unanswered points in the first half on Sunday and trailed 29-3 at the half after the Steelers scored their fourth touchdown of the opening 30 minutes of play. The scoring onslaught put the home team in position to hold on to a significant lead and beat Tomsula's team, 43-18.

The 49ers are now 1-1 after Sunday's loss to the Steelers.

Here's what we learned from Week 2.Hyde draws a crowd; suffers head injury in second half

Pierre Garçon's 168-yard, two-touchdown outing in Week 1 meant he would be under the microscope against Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense.

After rushing seven times for 35 yards to start Week 2, Hyde was temporarily hurt after he was on the receiving end of a low tackle by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell. It wasn't the worst blow the 49ers running back would take on the day.

Jarryd Hayne carried the ball twice while Hyde was evaluated by team doctors. Hyde returned and caught an 11-yard pass for a first down at Pittsburgh's 33. Hyde tried another spin move on the play, too. He didn't get into the end zone like he did against the Minnesota Vikings, but he did twist away from a Steeler defender and was able to dive forward to move the chains.

The run was part of a 17-play drive that did not result in a touchdown. Penalties and negative-yardage plays resulted in a 47-yard Phil Dawson field goal. It was San Francisco's only points of the first half.

Hyde provided 49 of the team's 103 yards in the first half. However, Hyde also was involved in San Francisco's first turnover of the game when he lost control of a hand off from Colin Kaepernick late in the second quarter. Pittsburgh tacked on its fourth touchdown of the half thanks to the prime field position.

Hyde came up hobbled after converting a third-down with a reception out of the backfield. The second-year back later walked into the visiting locker room to be evaluated for a possible head injury.

Hyde finished the game with 15 carrries for 43 yards with a long of 10. He caught four passes for 18 yards. Hyde returned to the field to watch the conclusion of the game. Hyde was cleared to return to action, but his status will still be closely monitored before a Week 3 road game against the Arizona Cardinals.Early third-down conversions prove to be costly

Pittsburgh's offense kept drives alive with critical third-down deep balls. A 41-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Darrius Heyward-Bey helped set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller in the first quarter.

Later, a 59-yard third-down pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown put Pittsburgh in position to score at the 2-yard line midway through the second quarter. On the next play, DeAngelo Williams popped into the end zone on a short run. It was the first of three rushing scores on the day for Williams.

Following Williams' first score, the Steelers took a 16-3 lead when Roethlisberger found Miller for a two-point conversion.

Needless to say, San Francisco's defense could have gotten off the field with key third-down stops, but that did not happen.  As a result, the visiting team found themselves in an early 13-point hole.

It only magnified from there on. Pittsburgh converted four of five third-down conversions as they totaled 280 yards of offense and built a 26-point halftime advantage. In the second half, Williams scored his third rushing touchdown of the game, tying a franchise record for most single-game rushing scores in a game. Brown, too, got into the scoring act with a 7-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

Long drives yield 10 points
San Francisco's 17-yard scoring drive led to a Dawson field goal. An 18-play drive, however, saw the 49ers turn the ball over on downs when Bruce Miller was unable to keep control of the ball on a short Kaepernick rollout pass in the third quarter. San Francisco controlled the ball for 11-plus mintues but could not get any points.

Kaepernick later completed his first touchdown pass of the year on a 14-yard throw to Anquan Boldin on fourth down. The throw made it a 29-10 game. San Francisco later turned the ball over on downs in the red zone when Kaepernick's knee touched the ground before he crossed the goal line on a fourth-down scramble with 2:35 left to play.

Smith goes deep, sets personal best on first TD with 49ersTorrey Smith recorded his longest career reception on a 75-yard touchdown from Kaepernick. The free-agent addition ran a deep seam route down the left side of the field and out-raced the Steelers to produce a career-best reception.

The scoring play was followed by a 2-point conversion made by Smith. The scoring plays made it a 36-18 game midway through the fourth quarter.

After a one-grab, 11-yard debut with the 49ers, Smith put up big numbers in his second game with San Francisco. He caught six balls for 120 yards against the Steelers. The 75-yard scoring play was a good sign of his growing chemistry with Kaepernick and the team's top highlight of the day.

Hayne starts at punt returner 

Following his first real football game of any kind last week, Hayne entered the game as San Francisco's second running back following a 7-yard run from Hyde.

With Bruce Ellington inactive due to an ankle injury, Hayne was also back to receive the game's opening punt. Hayne, the Australian rugby league star, fair caught a punt from Jordan Berry, a fellow Australian, at San Francisco's 15-yard line. It was an Aussie-to-Aussie play, something you hardly, if ever, see in an NFL game.

Hayne rushed the ball two times for three yards in the first half. Rookie Mike Davis, who active for the first time in his young NFL career, served as Hyde's main backup in the second half.

DeAndrew White later produced a four-yard punt return in place of Hayne in the third quarter.

San Francisco's punt return job figures to remain an open competition after Sunday's loss.


  • White returned kicks with Ellington out of action. White caught an eight-yard pass in the fourth quarter. It was his first NFL reception.
  • Jimmie Ward was the nickel defensive back for a second consecutive week, while Dontae Johnson entered in dime packages.
  • Garrett Celek suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was ruled questionable to return.
  • Blake Bell, who replaced McDonald, caught his first NFL pass in the third quarter on an 11-yard pass from Kaepernick.
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