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Steelers’ Mike Tomlin talks Christian McCaffrey, injury updates ahead of Week 1 vs. 49ers

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin prior to the start of the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons on August 24th, 2023 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the media Tuesday ahead of Week 1’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers to provide team updates and discuss a bit of the team’s approach as they head into game-week preparations.

Steelers approach to the 49ers in Week 1.

Though Tomlin spoke at length on the dynamic nature of the offense, he spent some extra time in particular discussing running back Christian McCaffrey. “I think it just starts with Christian McCaffrey. We’ve just got to respect the dynamic playmaking ability that he has, both in the running game and in the passing game,” Tomlin acknowledged.

“It’s very evident how significant his addition has been for [the 49ers]. Prior to his addition, they were averaging 20 points a game. With him in 2022, they averaged 30 points per game, and so 10 points with the addition of one man.” Tomlin’s praise for the 49ers didn’t end with McCaffrey, however. “They have a lot of one-on-one space winners, man.”

Regarding the defense, “Yes, we are preparing for [Nick] Bosa. It’s prudent for us to assume he is going to be there and prepare in that vein as opposed to being surprised. We were in a similar circumstance with a dynamic rusher a couple of years ago in T.J. [Watt]. We got a deal done in the 11th hour, he showed up in the stadium, and he was T.J. Watt that day.”

Back in 2021, Watt staged a “hold-in” prior to signing a four-year, $112.011 million contract extension just three days before the season kickoff against the Bills. Watt totaled 2.0 sacks, 3 tackles (1 for loss), 5 QB hits, and a forced fumble against Josh Allen in Week 1.

“That’s what those guys do. They show up, and they are who they are, and so we expect him to be there. It’s the prudent approach to take, and if he’s going to be there, we know the type of player that he intends on being, so that’s something to be dealt with.”

Steelers injury updates ahead of Week 1

If you’ve been thinking the Steelers have been relatively quiet on the injury front, it’s because they have been, luckily having avoided significant injuries through training camp outside of rookie CB Cory Trice Jr. Tomlin acknowledged as much, stating there are no significant injuries of concern.

“We feel pretty good about availability as it stands here today,” Tomlin said.

The Steelers season and home opener against the 49ers will kick off Sunday, September 10 at 1 p.m. ET from Acrisure Stadium.