SF-PIT Grades: Both Quarterbacks impress in high-scoring affair

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the 49ers-Steelers game.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

SF-PIT Grades: Both Quarterbacks impress in high-scoring affair


Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the 49ers-Steelers game:

Pittsburgh Steelers

— Former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier (+0.5) was all over the field yesterday as he finished the game with 11 tackles, including 7 run stops, leading to a team-high run defense grade of +3.1. On the other hand however, Shazier had the lowest pass coverage grade (-3.3) from the Steelers as he allowed seven receptions and 50 yards on the eight occasions he was targeted in coverage. While Shazier was often the first to get to the ball carrier among his teammates, he also led the team with three missed tackles.

— Second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt (+5.1) had the best game of his NFL career yesterday. While he notched three run stops, his best work came when he was rushing the passer. He recorded a pass rush grade of +4.3 as he racked up four quarterback hurries and two sacks.

— After being among the best wide receivers in Week 1, Antonio Brown (+3.4) had another excellent game in Week 2. Ben Roethlisberger (+7.0) had a passer rating of 149.1 when targeting the wide receiver. Brown caught 9 of the 11 balls coming his way and tallied 195 receiving yards along with one touchdown. While this was another excellent outing by Brown, it is necessary to note that both incompletions came as a result of dropped passes.

Top performers:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (+7.0)
DE Stephon Tuitt (+5.1)
WR Antonio Brown (+3.4)
DE Cameron Heyward (+5.1)
TE Heath Miller (+1.7)

San Francisco 49ers

— Rookie defensive end Arik Armstead (+1.3) played only 14 snaps yesterday, but he was still able to flash his skills. The Oregon alum recorded two quarterback hurries on his nine pass rush snaps, which was tied for most among the 49ers. Besides his success in going after Ben Roethlisberger, Armstead also graded positively against the run with a run defense grade of +0.8.

— While the Steelers dominated the 49ers throughout the entire game, quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s (+3.8) play can provide hope to the team’s fans. Kaepernick’s pass grade of +7.4 was actually higher than that of Roethlisberger’s, as the San Francisco quarterback accurately delivered 11 of his 13 passes over 10 yards, although two of these were dropped. Kaepernick completed 27 of 32 passes when he was not blitzed and finished with a passer rating of 126.8 on these throws.

— Joe Staley (-0.4) has been a reliable piece of the San Francisco 49ers offensive line for years, however yesterday he did not stand out from a struggling unit. Although he was his usual dominant self in the run game as he picked up a run block grade of +1.4, he was one of the weaker members of the line when it came to protecting Kaepernick. Staley allowed two sacks, two quarterback hurries (both most on his team), and four quarterback hurries. San Francisco fans can hope this was just an off day for the veteran tackle rather than a sign of things to come.

Top performers:

QB Colin Kaepernick (+3.8)
WR Torrey Smith (+2.3)
TE Vernon Davis (+2.0)
DE Arik Armstead (+1.3)
ILB NaVorro Bowman and NT Ian Williams (both +1.1)

  • DTW

    Really? You rag on Joe Staley? Not Marcus Martin who was a sieve, or the whole SIDE of the OL that stunk? And the DL who gave Ben a ton of time? Or the CBs and safeties who gave up something like 5 or 6 passes over 20 yards?

    • Stephen Spiker

      I think their point was inexperienced/bad players having a bad game isn’t as noteworthy as a great player having a bad game.

      • Al

        But if they are incorrectly attributing mistakes that weren’t on him, then what’s the point?

        • Stephen Spiker

          What makes you think they are incorrectly attributing mistakes? They watch every play and review each individual player for their actions.

        • Izach

          Welcome to PFF. It’s been documented that they struggle with OL grades due to the nature of the OL having to work together. Use them more for skill positions and stats

    • MosesZD

      It was STILL THE WORST GAME. Why rag on #2 and #3, like a fool, when your ALL PRO OT was a major problem?

    • Al

      At least one of his sacks was Martins fault snapping the ball early as well. Other than Eric Reid and our secondary in general (which was not helped at all by constantly faking safety blitzes only to have them drop back – far too late to really help but anyway). Martin is really bad, and it’s hard to believe this article couldn’t find mention of how bad he was this week. You could see them yelling at him on the field about the count multiple times. He wasn’t snapping at the correct time. I’d love to see what the kid from Harvard can do instead, he can’t be worse IMO.

  • Ridgeback

    Curious as to how you grade QBs when the defense is essentially not trying to get beat deep in the whole 3rd/4th Q with a huge lead.

    • Salty Dog

      I was going to post exactly the same thing. Kaep was 11-15 for 59 yards in the first half and 22-31 for 276 yards in the second half – 10-10 for 75 yards on the final drive until they get down to the 6, at which point he throws two incompletions. I’m guessing that they don’t factor game situation in, but if they do, it’s not enough.

      • Izach

        I’m not sure how kap could have gotten such a good grade, even if his stats came in garbage time, he just plain wasn’t very good at all all game, all game he had bad throws that where bailed out but good catches, his running was suspect and half of them were on busted pass plays, if you include his scrambles and sacks as part of his pass attempts he struggled all game and his best throw was 90% Torrey smith running. Sure he did have boldin drop a pass but he had a horrible first half and a mediocore 2nd half when you factor in that plays were made by the receivers not him

        • PetEng

          Must have been watching a different game. Kaep got 2 TDs, was a drop away from a 3rd passing TD and was a yard short on a running TD.

          • Izach

            Must have seen 2 different games. I saw 2 coverage busts on both TDs and a WR with crazy YAC yarage. plus sacks and scrambles were abundant and most were over all bad plays in general all things considered. Sure 5 yards on a scramble is better than a sack but doesn’t do a thing when down 3scores and time still running. Slot of kaps rushing would have been better throwaways. Also most production came on last drive where he FAILED 3 times in a row so score. Was also gifted drive extending penalties serveral times. Kap didn’t survey the field and find mismatches he got lucky on aggressively easy throws. There’s a difference between reading a defense and making erratic throws downfield because you are playing behind. While I agree Kaps stats look good, his actual play wasn’t.

          • Supes79

            Which throws did he get “lucky” on exactly? What “erratic” throws? Maybe you didn’t read the “accurately delivered 11 of his 13 passes over 10 yards, although two of these were dropped.” part of the review on his performance. Didn’t survey the field? He had completions to at least 10 different receivers. The pass to T. Smith for a touchdown was a great strike. If you think he wasn’t good that’s fine, but don’t make shit up to try and back up your claim when the tape and stats don’t back it up. In what was an abysmal game, Kap’s play is the one positive fans can take away from this game.

          • Izach

            Nothing made up, even boldins big drop wasn’t a accurate throw or he wouldn’t have had to slow down, turnaround and reach for it. That’s a ball PFF calls accurate because is was technically a drop but a wide open WR should have to struggle to adjust to a ball, that “DROP” was just as much on kap as on boldin.

          • Izach

            Also boldin actual TD wasn’t a good throw either he again was wide but throw was too high and boldin barely got feet down. Chaulk that up to good WR catch than a good QB throw, it was the right decision but a subpar throw. Also missed the RB on a swing and Davis on another late throw too. Idk how else to enlighten you to the fact KAP STRUGGLED/STUGGLES with BALL PLACEMENT. Which is a part of accuracy.

          • Supes79

            You’ve mentioned THREE throws out of 46? Yeah, good try buddy. His ball placement was fine.

          • Brian Huff

            So when Brady and Rodgers WR do this … bad throws too ??? :) :)

          • Izach

            No idk when you think I said it was a bad throw? I’m saying it was a GOOD throw, sure some luck was involved in the DB falling down but it was a good throw. Brady and Rodgers do this almost every single play. A good YAC yardage throw is just as good as any throw deep, the difference is Brady and Rodgers CONSISTENTLY make those throws not make 1 of them out of over 50 attempts.

          • Brian Huff

            So if we take away the coverage busts and YAC from Big Ben … man I guess he had a crappy day too! This breakdown is comical … thanks for the laughs … keep it coming ! :) :)

          • Izach

            I’m not saying take them away entirely I’m saying look at the big picture my friend. Out side of those play kap didn’t play well period, out side of bens coverage breakdown Ben still threw incredibly well and hit WRs in stride. So as a whole yes ben did better he also threw half as many times so there is less mistakes to look at too IMO. If kap throws 50 times and makes 10-15 good throws and looks average at best on the other 35+ plays yes I’d say he didn’t have a good game. Ben threw half as many and passes and look good on almost all of them. Even if Ben only threw 10-15 good passes that’s a better percentage of good throws than kap did even tho it’s the same number. That’s my point SURE kap did look good throwing a few times but his overall volume means there’s a lot more film for him to struggle which he did

        • Dwight Frye

          And who was responsible for that strike to Torrey Smith? Yes, there was YAC involved, but it was a perfectly placed ball and not an easy throw. Kap made that play happen. People here don’t understand the relationship between accurate passes and yac. QB’s are responsible for YAC too, it’s not always 100% the WR. State geeks don’t get this.

          • Izach

            I said kap made he play, he hits WRs in stride so that he never has to adjust or lose speed, that’s a great play by kap, but It was 1 of all his Att over 55 attempts and huge number to ask from a QB like kap, 46 passes, 5 sacks and over 4 scrambles on busted passes attempts, add in all those and his game isn’t as good. Look at just the 46 actual attempts and sure not bad play but the sacks and scrambles matter to me

          • Brian Huff

            “Busted pass attempts” I like how you spin this into Kap’s fault …. when the O-Line acts like the doors at an Apple store on the new iPhone release date…. there is nothing he can do.

          • Izach

            The OL wasn’t good but kap panicked too much as well he had targets open the steelers secondary wasn’t playing well they benefited from the pass rush sure but kap never made them pay for rushing either a well timed screen, or escaping with his legs, he didn’t keep his eyes down field either when pressure came he either ran backwards or tried to scramble too early. It not all his fault but let not act like he was Brady or Rodgers in the pocket either

        • Brian Huff

          So in one breath you say “Kap didn’t deliver it accurately enough for the WR to get YAC” … then go on to say “Yes he delivered the ball to Torrey, but it was all Torrey getting YAC that made that play”. EXPLAIN YOURSELF

          • Izach

            idk if you know this but BOTH things can be true, it was a play made mostly by Torrey, but kap did throw A good ball on THAT play, but for most the game especially early he was average at best with his ball placement. Even the drop by boldin on the sideline was a poor ball to a wide open WR

      • Izach

        Game situation shouldn’t be factored in when grading that should be factored in when analyzing and comparing grades/ trying to add context. But even so kap wasn’t doing well at all hard to believe PFF would grade him so highly.

        • PetEng

          Kaep played excellent statistically and from the eye test. He got no support from the running game and produced all throughout the 2nd half. The Bruce Miller incompletion in the 3rd quarter was the biggest issue with ‘staying in the game’. That’s not on Kaep.

          • Izach

            Statistically sure yes he did, the eye test says different. Eye test shows a QB struggling with reads, decision making, pressure, accuracy, and ball placement early in the game as well as not being able to use his athletic ability the way he wants due to the defense spying him effectively. later In game benefitting from shots down field vs a defense playing softer to keep clock running and protect an good lead

          • Izach

            I don’t argue the stats look good, but the truth is PFF includes a bias in their grading system that favors garbage time, by including some difficultly involved but not opponents play, while at same time rewarding aggressive decisions in negative game situations.

          • PetEng

            Stuggled with ball placement early in the game? He was 11/15.

            Decision making early in the game? Please post up the time stamps for his those.

            The game: OC chose to run the ball early and didn’t let Kaep throw even when it was clear the defense effective in stopping the run. Only in the second half, once it was clear the game was effectively lost, did they change the game plan (WP% for Pittsburgh was already 100% at half time). Kaep still created 2 scores and got the team to the goal line for 2 others.

            If a QB is down 8+ scores should PFF simply stop grading their play? I’d say no. You’d say yes. The game is already lost. But the grades are still useful in analyzing play.

          • Izach

            No when you are 11/15 for 59 yards that means you are making poor decisions and/or not delivering the ball to your Recivers with enough space to get YAC, like he did do on he Torrey smith TD hit WR right in stride. If more of his throws were on target the game would’ve been closer. There run game was more effective than our run game early hype wasn’t doing that poorly at all they struggled when kap threw short and incomplete, and when Hyde got hurt.

          • PetEng

            Once again, profootballfocus.com not Izach.com
            I’ll trust the grading of the guys (and gals) who do it a lot more than you to understand if it’s impressive or not.

          • Yeah

            The YAC criticism is a lazy one that doesn’t take the specifics into context. Kaep hit Anquan Boldin in stride in the first quarter – the ball was “dropped” (really fumbled) and turned into an incompletion. That wasn’t on him. Another pass for a first down was incomplete when Vernon Davis let the ball slip from his hands as he was blasted by a safety on the sideline.

            Asking for YAC yardage when your check down receivers are Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, and Bruce Miller out of the playaction fake in 2 TE sets is ridiculous.

          • Izach

            Like someone said that’s only 3 plays out of 46, but honestly kap wasn’t good in the early game, or in redzone, he was good for 2 drives when they got 150 yards on 11 plays everything else he was average at best, EPSECIALLY under pressure. I personally say it was a good day for kap in general as he’s usually worse than that, but by no means was he elite level QB play like his grade suggests.

          • Brian Huff

            How about the pass Boldin and Miller dropped. Were those on target? LMAO at your breakdown of the film.

          • PetEng

            PFF is better at the eye test than you are. That’s why I go to profootballfocus.com and not Izach.com.

          • Izach

            You go to PFF because you are too lazy to do it yourself, has nothing to do with me buddy.

          • PetEng

            You’re damn right I’d rather pay someone to do it than do it myself. It’s called work specialization and it’s the basis for the last 3000 years of economic development. You grow your own food, cell phone, house, car, and computer? Or did your lazy ass pay for those?

          • Tim Edell

            I bet your dad can beat up his??!!!

          • MON5T3R

            Dude, your an idiot. Obviously a Kaep hater. He did his part. Yes it was so called garbage time, however, take into account that Pit knew he had to throw, therefore rushed him time and time again against a weak Oline and he still was able to put up those numbers. Figure it out dumb a**

          • Izach

            I’m actually a kap fan usually, I just don’t think he did well this game, fantasy sure got me some points but as a fan of him personally I’d expect more to be considered great.

          • John Galli

            You’re wrong bro. If you thought he looked bad throughout the game you know nothing about football and you’re just listening to other people who know nothing about football. Are you serious? Struggle with reads. Were you watching a tape of last year? He played well throughout the game and was scanning the field well. His only problem was that horrible OL. Rewatch the game bro.

          • Izach

            I actually did rewatch the game, and early in the game I see a QB panicing and make poor decisions. you honestly can’t say he made the best choice on every throw. Now I don’t blame him as the OL was at fault to a large degree but the truth remains he played poorly early, the “he did the best he could due to the OL being bad” excuse doesn’t fly. Because he still caused worse issues with his decision making. Like running backwards on some sacks instead of stepping up or escaping he compounded on the issue a lot

          • socialism101

            You need to stop conducting eye tests with your lazy eye, doughypuss.

          • Dwight Frye

            The eye test shows the complete opposite of what you claim. His reads, decision making, accuracy were all on point. The “garbage time” claim is also a lazy analysis. Anyone who watched the game knows he was under heavy pressure in the 2nd half. If you want statistical proof, 16/34 of his dropback (47%) he was under pressure in the 2nd half. Even with Pittsburgh successfully getting pressure and dropping 7 in coverage, he still made plays in the 2nd half. That’s not garbage time. He balled out.

          • Al

            Your eyes are completely broken then.

          • Brian Huff

            He passes the eye test. He was making the right reads and throws … the problem is to many times there is literally 0 time to throw it …. Pitt was in the backfield immediately forcing him to take a sack or scramble. No QB can make reads under that time table.

          • [email protected]

            Not to interrupt you two, but I thought Kaepernick was good or solid, but to suggest that he was even close to Roethlisberger is a real eye opener.
            Ben finished 3 points short of NFL QB rating PERFECTION. Do you think Kaepernick was even close to THAT good?
            Kaep had a good effort under difficult circumstances. Roethlisberger had what would be a career game for many QBs, if not himself.

      • Izach

        When you include the 1 plays 75 yarder in that he was basically 11-11 for 150 and on 2 drives when means he was 22 of 35 for 185 the rest of the game, with multiple sacks and poor scrambling descisions through the game outside of those 2 drives (one was a good play by WR the other was a garbage time drive vs soft Defense that actually yielded no points)

    • PetEng

      Like beating the defense with a bomb to Torrey Smith who turned it into a TD?

  • PittsburghSports

    49ers are lucky Bell and Bryant like weed, or else we’d have put a 50berger on them.

    • Dwight Frye

      Your team played great, but don’t act like you didn’t have a scheduling advantage going in. Home team on 10 days rest facing a team on 5 days rest traveling cross country. I’m a no excuses kind of guy, but that stuff matters in every sport, especially a physically grueling sport like football. Big Ben was on point, I’ll give you that.

      • Jason McDonald

        Haha! Really ? And the 9ers got the Steelers without 2 of their top 3 playmakers . Seems like a pretty massive scheduling advantage for the 9ers

        • Dwight Frye

          I’d rather play the Steelers full strength with equal days to rest and prepare. 49ers had their feet stuck in the mud. They’re a faster, more physical football team than what they showed this game.

          • Jason McDonald

            One of the largest known weaknesses of the 9ers is the lack of speed in the secondary and that’s what was exploited , so the faster team comment makes zero sense . And even if it was a true statement the 9ers would have looked the same due to the increase in speed of Bell and Bryant over their replacements . Basically that comment holds no validity

          • Dwight Frye

            Proves you know little about the 49ers secondary personnel. Lack of speed is not an issue in the secondary. Brock, Acker, Reid, Bethea, Ward, Tartt, all have fast wheels. That was commented on, particularly by Greg Cosell, who was very impressed by the speed of the defense in Week 1. If anything, 49ers got caught trying to do too much in coverage this game. They put the safeties near the LOS on 3rd down feigning blitz, and didn’t recover downfield when Ben threw it over their heads. They pulled of that gameplan last week against Minnesota, but didn’t execute against the Steelers. Not an issue of speed, but poor positioning, bad angles taken, and probably a poor gameplan. On a short week with not as much time to rest and prepare as the opponent, a more simpler, safer scheme would have been a better option. No doubt Pittsburgh saw the Week 1 game film and saw the safeties cheating up to the LOS faking blitz. He made them pay.

          • Jason McDonald

            Lol , that’s hilarious .

          • Izach

            While I agree on the scheduling, as evidence shows the real “Home Field Advantage” is really the “Disadvantage” of having to travel, I don’t kno if the 49ers are more physical than that, they were pretty physical in that game, we couldn’t run the ball till deep into the 2nd half after Ben had toasted the CBs a few times. I was surprised honestly seeing as the 49ers defense lost half its starters from last year it’ll seemed and your 2 most physical guys Willis and j smith retired I didn’t expect as tough a game

        • Izach

          That’s true and our OL was missing the best piece and it was replaced with a revolving door in wallace luckily we still had enough pieces.

      • PittsburghSports

        lol I’m just trolling. don’t mind me.

        • Dwight Frye

          lol, oh okay. Don’t let me stop you man, troll away! 😉

        • Jason McDonald

          That’s hilarious , glad to see you there trolling lol

    • Al

      You guys played well. It’s too bad to stop Hyde you had to deliberately injure him.

      • PittsburghSports

        Ya gottta do what ya gotta do. Mitchell’s not good for much else.

  • Al

    Not sure if you guys realized it or not in your rankings, but at least two sacks probably credited to other players should count towards Martin snapping the ball early in the count and the OL not being prepared. The kid is an awful C. Including at least one of the sacks Staley gave up.