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Varsity & JV: Winners & Losers from Steelers Week 1 loss to 49ers

The best and worst performances from the Steelers’ season-opener.

San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

What a disaster that was.

The Steelers opened their 2023 season in the most embarrassing of ways, getting trampled by the 49ers, 30-7. While it was easy to find who was JV, it was very difficult to find many who played at a varsity level in Week 1. It was done, though, so here are the respective varsity and JV performances of the week.


T.J. Watt

The former Defensive Player of the Year had three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a tackle for loss. He got off the bus. Unfortunately, the rest of the defense didn’t.

Anthony McFarland

There were multiple kick returns that McFarland was just a block away from breaking. He averaged just over 30 yards per return, and also caught two passes on offense.

Elandon Roberts

Roberts led the team with two tackles for loss, and on the rare occasion an interior gap was penetrated, Roberts was the culprit.


Kenny Pickett

The worst thing about the game was that Pickett looked lost. He threw two really bad interceptions, he had multiple throws that were either leading receivers too far or were thrown behind them. You can claim “Oh, Matt Canada” all you want- Canada isn’t the one who deserves the largest share of the blame here. Pickett was bad.

The offensive line

Pickett played poorly, but the guys up front did nothing to help him out. He never had time to let plays develop, and the run game was non-existent, as usual.

Patrick Peterson

All of that talking, and you give up two touchdowns? It wasn’t just Peterson that was bad, but let him serve as the representative for the entire Steelers secondary. Brock Purdy carved up the Steelers all afternoon, constantly moving the chains on third down, while Brandon Aiyuk looked like Jerry Rice with eight catches for 129 yards.

The coaching staff

Mike Tomlin deserves a lot of blame. Neither the offense nor the defense looked ready. The Steelers were humiliated in every aspect of the game. Matt Canada deserves some blame here, as well, as the offense couldn’t get anything established on offense. They need to figure it out, and do it quick, or the season will be done before October.