San Francisco 49ers

Report card: 49ers offense struggles, but defense is worse

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Pittsburgh. AP

Offense: The 49ers gave a lackluster effort that could have been even worse if officials had ruled an Anquan Boldin incompletion a fumble and if Colin Kaepernick had lost a third-quarter fumble. After being sacked just once against Minnesota, Kaepernick went down five times against Pittsburgh. Grade: C-

Defense: The 49ers matched youngster Kenneth Acker against wide receiver Antonio Brown and paid the price. Brown, who led the NFL in catches and receiving yardage last year, had 128 yards by halftime and finished with 195. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards, 252 in the first half. Grade: D

Special teams: Phil Dawson connected on a 47-yard field goal, but there was nothing special about San Francisco’s return teams. The coverage units allowed a big return by Brown one play before Roethlisberger’s second-quarter touchdown strike to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Grade: C+

Overall: No one will be calling defensive coordinator Eric Mangini by his “Mangenius” moniker – at least not sincerely – after his unit gave up 453 yards. Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s offense are known for big plays, which they made early, often and easily. Grade: D

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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