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Report Card: Grading the Steelers dismal effort vs. the 49ers

There are times as an educator, something I was for 16 years, when you see that stack of quizzes or tests sitting on your desk and you just have to wait to grade them. Sometimes it is based on the fact you just haven’t carved out time to dive into the grading process, and other times you have a strong feeling the class, as a whole, didn’t do well on this assignment.

When it comes to grading the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 game vs. the San Francisco 49ers, it was more the latter. As I sat down to give out grades, it was difficult for me to initially grade every aspect of the team. I felt the best course of action was to just wait a bit, let the dust settle, and then visit the grades without the emotions of the game still fresh in my mind.

Did it improve the grades much? In some areas, but not all. Time to get out the red pen and try to make this not look like a murder scene…


When you look at the offense from a global perspective, there isn’t much to glean from this is a positive way. The offense line struggled, the quarterback struggled, there was miscommunication across the board and the play calling was suspect. Giving this unit a grade other an what you see below would be akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Grade: F


While the defensive effort left a lot to be desired, there were still aspects of the group which I could say had decent performances. I thought Elandon Roberts, in his limited role, played well. The same can be said for T.J. Watt and some of the young players, Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton. I wanted to see Joey Porter Jr. playing more than seven defensive snaps, but hopefully that will take care of itself in Week 2. Nonetheless, the bright spots kept this grade from mirroring the offense.

Grade: D

Special Teams

Chris Boswell only had to kickoff and kick an extra point. Nothing to speak of there. Pressley Harvin had another inconsistent game, and when you add in Mike Tomlin’s pointed comments about his punter, it makes you think harder about the performance of Harvin. While some people would give this unit an F, I went with the grade below based on the performance of Anthony McFarland and the return units. They did a tremendous job on kickoff returns, to the point where the 49ers stopped giving them the opportunity to return the ball.

Grade: C-


With two weeks to prepare for this game, you expected a better result. Whether you’re talking about the offensive game plan, the defensive approach or the overall preparedness of the team. It stunk in every aspect. We all used to say “give Mike Tomlin two weeks to prepare and he’ll cook up something good”, but that was far from good. Tomlin put plenty of blame on himself and the coaching staff, but it’s all just lip service until things change.

Grade: F

The Steelers were beaten in every aspect of the game in Week 1. If it weren’t for T.J. Watt there were hardly any bright spots. Throw in injuries and it makes the performance even more dismal than it was, which says a lot. The Steelers have a lot to improve upon, and when you look at the overall grade you have to assume things can only get better. It can only get better, right?!

Overall Grade: D-

What grade do you give the Steelers after the loss to the 49ers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the regular season.


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