Almost everything went right for the San Francisco 49ers in the first half of their season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even their mistakes worked out.
With San Francisco leading, 17-0 in the second quarter, quarterback Brock Purdy fumbled the ball on a sack by Steelers All-Pro T.J. Watt. Watt got his hands on the ball after it came loose. But Purdy made sure that San Francisco maintained possession.
Purdy hit the turf on his back with his legs up in the air and the ball pinned between his lower back and the ground. Watt reached out to grab it. But Purdy wasn’t giving it up. He reached with both hands below his back to secure the ball. Watt, a 252-pound former Defensive Player of the Year, couldn’t pry it away.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin challenged the call to no avail. The ball clearly remained in Purdy’s possession, and the 49ers retained the ball. Two plays later, they kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 20-0.
The play capped San Francisco’s scoring in a first half that saw Purdy complete 14 of 21 passes for 154 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Brandon Aiyuk, including this beauty with Patrick Peterson in tight coverage.
So far, so good for San Francisco as Purdy looks to bounce back from the elbow injury that sidelined him in last season’s NFC championship game.