49ers fans should be cautiously optimistic

Typically, it’s hard to find reason to be excited after your favorite team loses 43-18, but San Francisco 49ers fans should feel cautiously optimistic after last Sunday’s beat down in Pittsburgh.
The 49ers are a middle tier team while the Pittsburgh Steelers are a top 10 team, so it’s no surprise the Steelers won, however, the margin by which they did win was aided by a few lucky advantages.
Having played in the Thursday night season opener against the defending champions, the New England Patriots, the Steelers had a whopping 10 days to prepare for their game against the 49ers. The niners had half that time because their first game was a Monday night matchup.
The extra preparation time paid off as the Steelers shut down Carlos Hyde and the niner’s rushing attack, which worked wonders in their week one victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
The 49ers also shot themselves in the foot by leaving multiple points out on the field throughout the first three quarters. A holding penalty early in the second quarter took the 49ers from first and goal from inside the five to first and goal from just outside the 20. Two negative pass play and a sack later, the 49ers had to settle for a Phil Dawson field goal. You could argue they probably would have scored a touchdown if it wasn’t for the penalty, but then again fans know this team struggles to pick up five yards. (Think Super Bowl 47)
In the second quarter, Colin Kaepernick fumbled the ball on a hand off to Hyde. Six plays later the Steelers found the end zone for the fourth time.
In the third quarter, the 49ers strung together a 13-play drive culminating in zero points after fullback Bruce Miller failed to complete the catch on a touchdown reception.
To go along with Miller’s touchdown being wiped off the board late in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick had a rushing touchdown called back because his knee was down just before the ball crossed the goal line.
That’s potentially 21 points — the 49ers could have had on the board. Factor in atypical drive extending drops from Tight End Vernon Davis and Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin and you really get a sense of how much closer this game could have been.
Speaking of atypical, Quarterback Colin Kaepernick played well completing 33 of 46 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns. In past seasons when they were down by a large margin early, Kaep would be reckless with the football and try to make the big play when it was not there. However, on Sunday when he was given time to throw, he made good decisions and took what the defense gave him. The problem is he was hardly given time to throw. The 49ers offensive line gave up five sacks and Kapernick was constantly running around trying to avoid the Steelers pass rush. Offensive line issues aside, Kaepernick showing growth as a passer is reason enough to be excited for the rest of this season.
While the pass rush is nonexistent and the offensive line spending their Sundays on the side of a milk cartons, the 49ers aren’t in as bad a shape as everyone thinks. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier, but they showed against the Steelers that they can move the ball and get in position to score.
With a strong running game and improved play from Kaepernick, the 49ers could surprise everyone by racking up 10 wins and end their season in January.