3 Steelers with the most to prove in Week 1 matchup with the 49ers

The Steelers face a massive challenge in their Week 1 game with the 49ers. These three Pittsburgh stars will be under the most scrutiny for Mike Tomlin's squad.
Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett
Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 3
Kenny Pickett will be given a lot more control over the Steelers offense in his second season as a pro.
Aug 24, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) warms up on / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers with the most to prove in Week 1: 1. Kenny Pickett

Steelers officials are confident that Kenny Pickett is ready to handle increased responsibility as he enters his first full season as the team's starting quarterback. They might quietly prefer he open up against an easier front seven than what the 49ers are set to deploy against him.

As a result of the matchup, Steelers fans might expect to see their offense keep the training wheels on their young signal caller for another week. Improving his touchdown to interception ratio is a big key for Pickett this year. He threw nine picks against just seven touchdowns a season ago. The 49ers will be looking to turn him over early and often in this game.

Getting Najee Harris and the ground game going early could open things up for Pickett in the throw game in the second half. Fellow second-year pro George Pickens will be chomping at the bit to get his season off to a good start. Finding tight end Pat Freirmuth might be the better path for success against such a stingy defense.

Pickett doesn't need to take control of this game to guide his team to victory. Avoiding the big mistake might be enough to help Pittsburgh get to 1-0. That might not seem like an ambitious goal at first, but it would be a nice accomplishment for a young quarterback against this defense.