PITTSBURGH –- In stark contrast to their season-opening victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers did not have any answers for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
“We had one great win and one horrible loss, but the good thing about it is we got a game next week,” 49ers safety Antoine Bethea said following the 49ers’ 43-18 loss to the Steelers in their home opener.
“It’s only our second game. We have 14 games left. There’s no need to panic, but we do need to go in there and correct the things that we did wrong and come out and play better next week.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw and he picked apart the 49ers’ secondary. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 369 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 155.8. He was not sacked and rarely pressured.
When asked if he was more disappointed in the pass rush or the coverage, 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said it was all connected.
“It was a combination,” Tomsula said. “It was a nice plan by the Steelers, too. There were max protections. They were maxing up and getting that thing down the field. So what they did and our response, we didn’t match it. We got to do a better job. That was what happened.”
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, one of the 49ers’ nine team captains, said the game will serve as a great test for a team that has 24 first- or second-year players.
“My thing is, I want to see how we respond,” Bowman said. “This is the NFL. We’ve had losses before, but it’s how you respond (after) taking a loss like this. We’re a young team, so that’ll be the great challenge for us. We have an important game coming up in Arizona.
“I’d rather it happen now, early in the season rather than later down the road. We have a chance to bounce back from it, so I’m excited.”
Receiver Antonio Brown did most of the damage with nine receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown.
“They were trying us deep and we knew they were going to do that,” Bethea said. “We knew Big Ben, that’s his style of game. He’s going to take shots. It’s our job to defend that and we didn’t do a great job of defending the deep ball today.”
Safety Eric Reid was on the bad end of Brown’s biggest play, a 59-yard reception that set up one of DeAngelo Williams’ three rushing touchdowns.
“That was a poor job by me,” Reid said. “I was trying to show a little disguise and I got beat deep in cover 2. That’s what you can’t do.
“He got by me and I misjudged the ball. I thought the ball was coming when it wasn’t and he kept running.”
Cornerback Kenneth Acker, making just his second NFL start, had a rough game -– as did everyone on the 49ers’ defense.
“It was a learning experience for myself, personally,” he said. “As a team, I don’t think we harp on the old. I’m just ready to get onto the next week.
“You take anything you can from it. See where they hit us at. See where we messed up at and see where we can get better at.”
Said linebacker Michael Wilhoite, “I don’t think anybody played the way they wanted to, and the score showed that. And I think everybody knows they can do better from the top to the bottom.”
When asked if it was a wake-up call after the 49ers’ season opener, Wilhoite answered, “I think so. Obviously, we’re awake now. You can’t get any worse than that. We got to figure out a way to bounce back and get our confidence and our swag back and perform next week.”