Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Francisco 49ers: Kittle the difference in San Fran

George Kittle
Record setting TE George Kittle will be aiming to score against the Steelers

Pittsburgh travel to Levi's Stadium without star QB Ben Roethlisberger, looking for their first win. Ben Steele believes that the 49ers will only add to Pittsburgh's problems.

"bKittle broke NFL records last season, while catching passes from Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Now lining up with Garoppolo, Kittle will be looking to make a statement game."

Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 21:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Main Event

Mason and Minkah aiming to make a name for themselves

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a mixed news week. During their Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks they had to deal with the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to injury. Then, on Monday, it was confirmed that Roethlisberger's elbow injury was severe enough to rule him out for the rest of the season and Big Ben's deputy, Mason Rudolph had to be installed as starter.

Rudolph, the sixth quarterback selected in the 2018 Draft, has never started a regular season game in the NFL but looked solid enough in relief last week. The Seahawks have a talented defensive unit, so Rudolph's success is impressive, but whether he can do as well against a 49ers defence who have had a full week of preparation remains to be seen.

On the same day that the Roethlisberger news broke, the Steelers announced that they had agreed a trade with the Miami Dolphins for second year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The 22-year-old, the first man off the sinking ship in Miami, is an intriguing young talent who should fit in well to a Steelers defence. However, Pittsburgh have yet to stand out defensively this year after facing Tom Brady and Russell Wilson so far this season. San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo is good, but not as good as those two,so I'm backing the Steelers to cover the spread in San Fran at 10/11.

Niners will expect to continue perfect season

Despite the fact that I think the Steelers will cover the spread, I still think that Garoppolo, and Kyle Shanahan, will be able to put together a game plan good enough to earn the win. The 49ers started the season with two games on the road, bullying Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay before blowing out the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Heading back to Levi's Stadium, Jimmy G will be hoping to deliver on the flashes of promise he showed in 2017. The former New England Patriot backup was exceptional after arriving on the West Coast but suffered an ACL injury at the start of the 2018 season, derailing the entire San Francisco season.

Now back to full health and ready to go, Garoppolo has led a balanced 49ers offence, featuring Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Matt Breida, to 2-0. There is very little value in backing the 49ers in a single on Sunday, but adding them in to a treble with the Seattle Seahawks, against a Drew Brees-less Saints, and the LA Rams, against a Cleveland Browns side who are yet to convince, looks a good bet, particularly at a boosted 5/2.

Kittle looking for breakout game

In the post-Gronk era the competition for best tight end is fierce, and it probably comes down to two names. Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Fran's own George Kittle. While Kelce has been posting gaudy numbers with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball, Kittle broke NFL records last season, while catching passes from Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Now lining up with Garoppolo, Kittle will be looking to make a statement game.

The Steelers' linebacking core will have a lot to deal with, particularly as the quality of the 49ers' running game means they can't cheat and overload on covering the receivers. Look for Kittle to be the difference maker, and score his first touchdown of the season at 5/4.


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