49ers Vs. Steelers MNF: Niners Knock Off Pittsburgh, 20-3

The San Francisco 49ers are at 11-3, after a dominating performance against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers team on Monday Night Football. For more on the game and the team in general, go to Niners Nation.

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49ers P Andy Lee Named NFC Special Teams Player Of The Week For Week 15

After his dominating performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers' special teams on Monday night, San Francisco 49ers punter Andy Lee earned the honor of NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for week 15 of the NFL season. 

Lee was about as saucy as a punter could get on Monday, dropping four of his six punts inside the Steelers' 15-yard line, while averaging a modest 49.2 net yards per punt, a large reason why the 49ers' defense dominated Pittsburgh by the tune of 20-3.

Here are the starting field positions for Lee's punts: 5-yard line, 16-, 10-, 8-, 14- and 12-yard lines; an average start just shy of the 11-yard line. He also had boots of 57 and 62 yard on the evening. That's consistent and deadly, a great mix for the Pro-Bowl punter. 

Lee currently leads the NFL with a 44.1-yard net average and has 26 punts inside the 20-yard line this year. It is also his first ever Player of the Week Award, and the first 49ers punter ever to win the award as well. Congrats Andy; very much deserved!

For more on the 49ers, head over to Niners Nation

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Candlestick Park Power Outage: 49ers Seek Answers, Issue Press Release

I suppose one could say that an untimely power outage at a stadium holding nearly 70,000 paying customers, present to watch a game being broadcast nationally to millions more in primetime Monday Night Football, could be construed to be a tad embarrassing for the host organization. With this logic, it's easy to see why the aforementioned host organization might follow up on said power outage, intent on making sure it will not happen again. It could be understood as well if that host team, in this case the San Francisco 49ers, issued a press release declaring the urgency of their quest for answers (and slipping in some gratuitous praise for their fanbase). 

Per that press release:

The City of San Francisco and PG&E assured the team they are working diligently to solve the issues related to last night's power outages at Candlestick Park. Team representatives met with, and received updates from, the city and the utility throughout the day. As of this afternoon, no specific cause has been identified for the electrical problems at the 49ers-Steelers game.

"The 49ers are focused on making sure this doesn't happen again at Candlestick," said Jim Mercurio, Vice President of Stadium Operations for the team. "We are the tenants; our obligation is to protect our customers and our product. They support our objectives, and I am hopeful for some answers soon."

Mercurio praised both the City and PG&E for their quick response to the outage Monday night.

"No one likes the kind of uncertainty that this situation produced," said Mercurio. "We are grateful that the fans saw a complete game because it was a memorable and important challenge for the team. No doubt, it created some lifetime memories for our customers. I do believe that some Most Valuable Player awards could be awarded to our fans and our security personnel for remaining calm and patient."

Mercurio acknowledged that he remains in constant contact with the National Football League.

"They are asking the same questions we are asking," said Mercurio. "What happened? How did it happen? What are you doing to make sure it doesn't happen again?"

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, make sure you visit Niners Nation.

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NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Still Gunning For No. 2 Seed After MNF Win

The San Francisco 49ers picked up a big win on Monday night as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers to improve to an 11-3 record. The Niners have known for weeks now that they're headed to the playoffs, but they're still anxious to clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, to say nothing of home field advantage.

As it currently stands -- and you can check out the entire playoff picture over at ESPN -- the 49ers sit in the No. 2 seed. They have the same 11-3 record as the New Orleans Saints, but hold a tiebreaker over the Saints based on winning percentage in the two teams' respective conferences. What this means is that if both the Saints and the 49ers record the same record over the final two weeks of the season, San Francisco will be awarded the No. 2 seed.

Of course, the best option for the Niners is simply to win the final two games of 2011 no matter what. Since they will be facing the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams in those two games, that goal is well within their reach.

If we're talking about long shots, the 49ers actually still have a shot at claiming the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, if they should win those next two games and the Green Bay Packers should somehow lose their next two. Seems unlikely, but stranger things have certainly happened.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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Monday Night Football, 49ers Vs. Steelers Final Score: Niners Defense Overwhelms Pittsburgh En Route To 20-3 Victory

The San Francisco 49ers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. Despite power outages at Candlestick Park that led to long delays, the 49ers never lost their sense of focus. In many ways, this may have been the sharpest the entire Niners team has looked all year, operating well on both sides of the ball.

The Steelers made the decision to start quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had been questionable all week after fighting a high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 13 against the Browns. Roethlisberger was clearly at far less than 100% as he began noticeably limping shortly into the game. The 49ers defense made sure to keep the pressure on him all evening and the results were indisputable. Roethlisberger had a part in all four Pittsburgh turnovers as he threw three interceptions and had a ball stripped while being sacked, leading to a 49ers recovery and an eventual touchdowns. At several points during the night, Big Ben very nearly threw several more interceptions. Roethlisberger was also sacked three times, with Aldon Smith picking up two solo sacks and a portion of a third.

On offense, the San Francisco team also excelled. David Akers picked up two field goals which were the entirety of the scoring in the first half of play from either team. His 22 yard field goal in the first quarter tied him with Jerry Rice for the most points scored by a single player in a single season in 49ers franchise history. His second field goal, from 38 yards in the second quarter, broke that record.

Pittsburgh's only points came on a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter by Shaun Suisham. The 49ers picked up their first touchdown in that quarter on a short goal-line pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis after a gorgeous offensive drive. Following the Roethlisberger sack and fumble in the fourth quarter, the 49ers provided the coup de grace on a 5-yard touchdown run from Frank Gore.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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49ers Vs. Steelers Score Update: Vernon Davis Helps 49ers To 13-3 Lead In Fourth Quarter [VIDEO]

The San Francisco 49ers are keeping the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Monday Night Football matchup. This highly-anticipated game has been plagued by power outages that have delayed play, but the 49ers have maintained their focus and are playing like a team possessed.

The 49ers defense has kept the less-than-full-strength Roethlisberger off-balance all night, rarely letting up on the pressure. While both teams had difficulty finding the end zone in the first half, Alex Smith and Vernon Davis led the 49ers on a brilliant drive late in the third quarter. They helped the 49ers take the ball 71 yards down the field with five plays, ending when Smith hooked up with Davis in the end zone to give the Niners a 13-3 lead.

The Steelers would get into field goal range at the end of the quarter but shanked the attempt wide left.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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49ers vs. Steelers Score: Niners Defense Dominates First Half Of Monday Night Football

A game that was billed up to be the best Monday Night Football game of the years was closely contested in the first half, with defense being the prevailing theme between the 49ers and Steelers. After 30 minutes of play, San Francisco leads 6-0 courtesy of two field goals from David Akers.

The Steelers were moving the football on their first drive of the game, but an interception at the goal line halted any chance they had of scoring. The 49ers then proceeded to move the ball quickly down the field, but they were unable to convert from inside the 10-yard line. Akers hit a 22-yard field goal to cap off the drive.

The two defenses took turns making stops before San Francisco came through once again. Akers lined up and made a 38-yard field goal to give the 49ers a 6-0 lead. The Steelers attempted to score quickly in the closing minutes of the half, but they were unable to do so.

Alex Smith started well but cooled down as the game wore on. He's completed 10 of 20 passes for just 88 yards thus far. Frank Gore has 43 rushing yards on 10 attempts, while Kyle Williams leads the way with four receptions and 43 receiving yards.

The second half is about to get underway. The 49ers will receive the kickoff to begin the half. 

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Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Struggling On Monday Night Football With Ankle Injury

When healthy, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Seemingly impossible to tackle at times in the pocket, Big Ben knows how to extend plays and find his receivers at any given time. Unfortunately for Big Ben and the Steelers, the All-Pro QB is dealing with a sore ankle and his performance has suffered because of it.

As the first half was nearing a close, Roethlisberger had thrown two interceptions -- one of which was deep in 49ers territory -- and completed just 14 of 22 passes for 141 yards. Because of the bum ankle, it appears Big Ben is overcompensating for his ability to throw the ball down the field. He has overthrown numerous receivers, including one to Mike Wallace that would have gone for a touchdown should it have been on target.

Most importantly, Roethlisberger's team trails 6-0 at halftime. That's not getting it done. As for Roethlisberger's reaction to the half:

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49ers vs. Steelers Power Outage: Candlestick Park Goes Dark Again

For the second time tonight, the power has gone out at Candlestick Park. With the 49ers and Steelers locked in an intense Monday Night Football battle, the stadium lost power at a commercial break around 6:45 PT. The first outage came at 5:19 PT as the two teams were preparing for kickoff. The blackout was caused by a blown transformer just outside of the stadium.

There has to be cause for some serious concern here. While we are fortunate to avoid any power outages while a play was in progress, one has to be concerned if the lights go off while a receiver attempts to make a catch or a fumble hits the ground. There is also concern for the fans; while there have been no reported incidents other than a person running onto the field, everything has stayed relatively calm. Stadium security has to be concerned should yet another blackout hit Candlestick.

Here are a few photos:

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Power has come back on as of 6:55 PT. Play resumed after 19 minutes. If the power goes out yet again, it may cause the NFL to seriously contempt postponing the game to a later date.

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[VIDEO] David Akers Breaks 49ers Points Record With Field Goal Against Steelers

David Akers is now the all-time single-season points leader in San Francisco 49ers history. The 37-year old place-kicker converted a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter to tie Jerry Rice with 138 points, while he broke the record after nailing 38-yard in the second quarter. With the two field goals, San Francisco leads the Steelers 6-0 on Monday Night Football.

Here is video of Akers breaking the record:


A big congratulations to David Akers for his accomplishment. The 49ers have a rich football history and many excellent players have suited up for the franchise over the years. With two more games remaining on the schedule, Akers should be able to pad his record a considerable amount, especially if the woes in the red zone continue.

For more on Akers, the 49ers and tonight's game, head on over to Niners Nation for coverage. Steelers fans should check out Behind The Steel Curtain.

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49ers vs. Steelers Score: Niners Lead Early After Two Ben Roethlisberger Interceptions

The San Francisco 49ers have used two costly interceptions from Ben Roethlisberger to give themselves an early lead. After a quarter of play, the 49ers lead the Steelers 3-0. San Francisco nearly capped off an impressive first drive of the game with a touchdown, but their red zone woes continued as the drive stalled just a few yards away from the goal line. David Akers converted a 22-yard field goal to take the early lead.

Big Ben, who is playing on a bad ankle, is clearly being bothered by the injury and has not been sharp against a tough 49ers defense. Here is video of both interceptions:



Alex Smith has started his night off well, completing seven passes for 54 yards. Frank Gore appears to be fully healthy, rushing the ball six times for 28 yards. Michael Crabtree has been called upon early and often, brining in three passes for 26 yards.

It remains to be seen if San Francisco will be able to take advantage of the Steelers slow start, but the time is now to strike. Pittsburgh will only make so many mistakes before getting on a roll.

For more, head on over to Niners Nation.

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[VIDEO] David Akers Ties Jerry Rice Scoring Record On Monday Night Football

The 49ers woes inside the red zone is a story all by itself, but because of their struggles this season, place-kicker David Akers has now tied Jerry Rice for the all-time franchise point record with 138. He also surpassed Mike Cofer, who was in second place with 136 points.

Akers converted a 22-yard field goal to give San Francisco a 3-0 lead early against the Steelers. With the field goal, Akers is now just three field goals away from tying Neil Racker's record for the most in a season. The 49ers have two more games in addition to tonight's, so that record could definitely be broken in the coming weeks.

Here is a video of Akers tying the record on Monday Night Football:


A big congratulations to David Akers for breaking the record. Head coach Jim Harbaugh probably isn't too happy, especially because the record was broken after an impressive drive stalled at the four yard line, but he'll take it.

For more on tonight's game and all things 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.

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49ers vs. Steelers Power Outage: Lights Go Off At Candlestick Park (VIDEO)

The power is out at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Just a few minutes before kickoff was set between the 49ers and Steelers, a full power outage hit the stadium and everything went dark. Fortunately there are backup generators that are keeping the area somewhat lit, but there is no timetable for when power is expected back. The lights shut off at 5:19 PT.

There were no earthquakes in the area and sources at Candlestick did not feel any movement in the ground. This of course is the same area that saw the 1989 World Series get delayed for a massive earthquake that hit unexpectedly. Fans are remaining calm and there is plenty of security personnel assisting those in attendance.

The game will undoubtably be delayed, although we are unsure at this time if/when kickoff will take place. Here is a video of the powerless Candlestick Park.

You can see a power transformer (no, not Megatron or the Autobots) blow out in the video, which caused the power outage. Here's a GIF from inside Candlestick:

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UPDATE: Power has come back on as of 5:35 PT.

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49ers Vs. Steelers Inactives: Ben Roethlisberger Active, Patrick Willis Inactive

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the Pittsburgh for Monday Night Football. On Monday afternoon, the full inactives for the game were released for both teams. These lists come to us courtesy of Cam Inman of the Mercury News.

Full list of 49ers inactives: LB [Patrick] Willis, WR [Braylon] Edwards, QB [Scott] Tolzien, CB [Tramaine] Brock, FB [Moran] Norris, G [Mike] Person, NT [Ian] Williams (G [Daniel] Kilgore active 1st time)

Steelers inactives (aside from suspended LB James Harrison): CB Brown, C Pouncey, LB Carter, DE Woods, T Meredith, WR Sanders

As expected, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is active and will start against the 49ers. Left tackle Joe Staley is also active and expected to play, although it is worth noting that offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore is active for the first time this season, perhaps suggesting that the Niners still have doubts about Staley being 100%, The interior line struggled last week in Staley's absence, so they may be trying to fortify the line by adding Kilgore.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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49ers Vs. Steelers, Monday Night Football: 49ers Back In Familiar Monday Night Role

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Week 15 matchup for Monday Night Football. This is possibly the strongest matchup of the year for the Monday Night Football broadcast. Actually, it's the strongest contest that the program has seen in some time.

The Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN, is reporting that Monday's matchup will be only the fourth time in history that two teams with at least 10 wins and a winning percentage of .750 or better have faced off on Monday night. The San Francisco 49ers have played in each of the previous three games -- and won each of them. The most recent game came in 1997, when the 12-2 49ers defeated the 11-3 Denver Broncos, 34-17.

Another interesting stat from the Elias Sports Bureau is this one: Monday night's game will be the 34th MNF broadcast from Candlestick Park, the most such games to take place at any NFL stadium.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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49ers Vs. Steelers: Game Time, TV Schedule, Radio, Odds And More

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in this week's marquee Monday Night Football matchup. The Niners are the slightest of favorites in the one, but are coming off a rough loss to the Arizona Cardinals, have lost two of their last three and are facing an always-tough Steelers team.

Pittsburgh has won four straight since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, albeit their string of wins has come against fairly weak teams and only their 35-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 was dominant. The 49ers will be hoping their defense can take advantage of what has been a weak offensive season for the Steelers.

We have all of your pertinent information for following Monday's game right here:

Time: Kickoff at Candlestick Park is scheduled for 5:30 PM PST.

TV: The MNF broadcast, as always, can be found on ESPN and will be televised locally on CBS 5.

Radio: You can listen to the radio broadcast on KNBR and BONE, or on Sirius 93.

Betting Line: The 49ers are favored to win by between between 1.5 and 3 points, according to our friends over at OddsShark.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation. To see how the Steelers fans pass the time, head over to Behind the Steel Curtain.

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49ers Vs. Steelers Odds: The Niners Are Slight Favorites

Prepare for a close one.

Tonight's Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers (10-3) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) is suspected to be a nail-biter based on Vegas' current odds.

The 49ers first opened as one-point favorites and are now sitting at 2.5 heading into tonight's game. The odds did not open until a couple days ago due to oddsmakers' concern over Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's injury.

Known as arguably the toughest quarterback in the league, Roethlisberger sprained his left ankle during a 14-3 win over the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 8 and practiced for the first time on Friday, though he was limited. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has said that if Roethlisberger is healthy enough to play, he'll play.

The 49ers need a big win after a surprising 21-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Star linebacker Patrick Willis did not practice on Friday and is still doubtful with a hamstring injury.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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Joe Staley Injury Update: 49ers Tackle Cleared To Play, According To Report

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their Monday Night Football matchup against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Late on Sunday the 49ers received some good news regarding one of their players who was previously listed as questionable for the game.

Matt Maioco of CSN Bay Area reports that left tackle Joe Staley has been fully cleared and is expected to play in Monday's game. Staley left last week's game against the Arizona Cardinals early in the first quarter following a play where his helmet collided with another player's knee.

It was initially feared that Staley may have suffered a concussion, but on Sunday word came down that he had been cleared for the Steelers game by the team physician and an independent neurological consultant, as per NFL guidelines on potential concussions.

It's certainly good news for the 49ers that they'll be playing this highly-anticipated game with as many of their key players as possible.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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NFL Playoff Picture: San Francisco 49ers Chase New Orleans Saints For First Round Bye

The San Francisco 49ers might be hitting that wall just as they get ready to enter the 2012 NFL Playoffs. It's too bad, because the New Orleans Saints are hitting their peak.

The Saints are currently at 11-3, standing at the number two seed and are charging hard into the playoffs. The 49ers are at 10-3, which means they have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow night to stay on pace. The 49ers do own the tiebreaker over the Saints though because San Francisco has the better record in-conference.

So the 49ers have a lot to play for when they face the Steelers. A loss drops them behind a New Orleans team that finishes up its season at home against Atlanta and Carolina, and the Saints would have to drop one of those games. While New Orleans would have to win their final two games to ensure homefield, San Francisco isn't exactly playing dominating football down the stretch to make you think they can win out, even if their final two contests are against St. Louis and Seattle.

San Francisco needs every game they can get at home at the Stick. While Drew Brees and the Saints can probably win away from the Superdome, the 49ers are probably less-equipped to win away from home with Alex Smith.

To discuss the playoff hopes of the 49ers, head to Niners Nation.

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury Update: Steelers Quarterback Expected To Start Against 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in a very highly anticipated Monday Night Football matchup. Pittsburgh's star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was listed as questionable earlier in the week and was expected to be a game-time decision.

That decision came a bit earlier than game time, as it turns out. According to Gerry Dulac of the PIttsburgh Post-Gazette, the decision was made that Roethlisberger would start even before the Baltimore Ravens lost their Sunday night game against the San Diego Chargers.

Dulac went on to note:

Roethlisberger showed enough in Saturday practice that decision was made for him to play. Source said "he's good enough to go."
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Roethlisberger suffered an ankle injury in Week 13 against the Cleveland Browns when he was hit by a pair of defenders. That injury was later diagnosed as a high-ankle sprain. There was much speculation in the early going about the extent of the injury, but the quarterback appears to have recovered rather quickly.

For all news and information regarding the 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.

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NFL Playoff Positioning: 49ers Look To Move Closer To First Round Bye

The San Francisco 49ers are off until Monday when they face the Steelers, but they can still move closer to a possible first round bye on Sunday. The 49ers are tied with the New Orleans Saints at 10-3 and if the 49ers win their final three games they secure the bye courtesy of the conference record tiebreaker. However, given how close they are in the standings, the 49ers will be rooting for optimal results on Sunday.

The Saints will head on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings in a game in which the Saints are favored by nine points. While the Saints offense would appear to benefit from playing inside the Metrodome, they showed in losing the St. Louis Rams that anything is possible. They should roll through Minnesota, but the NFL has featured some crazy results this season.

Other than that, the 49ers are simply waiting to see what the postseason will bring them. If they drop out of the number two spot, they are likely going to finish no worse than the three seed. At this point that means a return engagement with the Detroit Lions, but the wildcard is far from cleared up. The Lions finish the season at Oakland, home against San Diego and at Green Bay. That is a tough stretch to wrap things up and could very well cost them a playoff spot.

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49ers Vs. Steelers Injury Report: Joe Staley, Patrick Willis Listed As Questionable

The San Francisco 49ers released their final injury report Saturday afternoon for Monday's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 49ers report includes LB Patrick Willis, OT Joe Staley, WR Braylon Edwards and FB Bruce Miller. All four are listed as questionable, although Willis and Staley appear to be bigger question marks than Edwards and Miller.

Patrick Willis the least likely to play on Monday. Willis did not take part in practice this week and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated Willis probable would not be able to play if he doesn't practice. Willis is dealing with a hamstring strain and without getting a workout in, the risk of aggravation is high.

Joe Staley suffered a concussion against the Cardinals this past week and was only able to take part in walkthroughs. However, Staley indicated he is on course to be cleared for contact tomorrow, which reportedly would get him back in time for Monday's game. If Staley has any setbacks, Alex Boone would get the start at left tackle.

Edwards and Miller have been limited all week in practice, but there has been nothing to indicate they will not play on Monday against the Steelers.

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury: Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Questionable For Monday Night Football

As the San Francisco 49ers prepare to welcome in the Pittsburgh Steelers for Monday Night Football, they may catch a few breaks. According to recent reports on Saturday from Steelers practice, Ben Roethlisberger continued to be limited at practice and is questionable for the showdown. All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey has been ruled out for the game, as has wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

This news has to be concerning for the Steelers, especially with Big Ben already banged up. Even if Roethlisberger plays -- and most are expecting him to do so -- you have to wonder what will happen if and when the 49ers relentless pass rush puts pressure on that sprained ankle.

There was some good news for the Steelers on Saturday with Troy Polamalu:

We'll have to closely monitor the progress of Roethlisberger and Polamalu, especially with kickoff just about 48 hours away. This is a big game, folks, and Pittsburgh will need all hands on deck if they want to pull off the road victory.

For more on the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.

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Even If Ben Roethlisberger Can't Play On Sunday, His Injury Should Benefit 49ers

It's no secret that the San Francisco 49ers are in a tough spot right now. Well, as tough a spot as you can be in with ten wins and a division title. They're sitting at 10-3 and looking to pick up a big win on Monday Night Football over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that is among the AFC's best. The 49ers are also coming off a very bad loss this past week to the Arizona Cardinals, a game in which they should have won, by all accounts.

There is a lot they need to work on. The offensive line will need to up its game and the coaching staff needs to call a much better game offensively. Running back Frank Gore can't carry the ball only ten times when he has over 70 yards with those ten carries. The coaching staff can't call pass plays on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 at the end of the game, when the passing game hadn't picked up and Alex Smith was being sacked.

But on Monday, they could have one less extremely important thing to worry about: Ben Roethlisberger. He's got a high ankle sprain, though it's only a minor one. Still, that sprain has been acting up lately and it's going to be tough for Roethlisberger to return. With the extra rest, it would be no surprise to see him play on Monday, but it doesn't appear to be healing on schedule, certainly a good thing for San Francisco.

Roethlisberger has been one of the NFL's best quarterbacks this season. Sam Lam of Examiner.com recently had some questions for 49ers linebacker Tavares Gooden, who is very familiar with the Steelers from his time with the Baltimore Ravens, AFC North rivals. Gooden noted one specific thing about how the Steelers have been so good this year:

He just extends the play. The guys that are coming after him, he's able to avoid them. That's the part of their livelihood, that's how they eat on offense. They're just making great plays. ... They just find ways to win games and I think it's all based on Big Ben's ability to get free on third and long down situations and he makes a lot of plays with his feet.

It's definitely apt. Roethlisberger's greatest asset has always been his ability to extend the plays. If he's not playing, that makes defending the Pittsburgh offense a whole lot easier, and Charlie Batch certainly lacks that ability. Not to mention that, if Roethlisberger were to play, he might be pretty limited in his mobility - perhaps a giant target for 49ers rookie linebacker Aldon Smith?

Regardless of whether or not Roethlisberger plays, the ankle injury should help them on Monday night. Now about that Pittsburgh defense ...

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49ers vs. Steelers Injury Report: Joe Staley Misses Practice, Ben Roethlisberger Returns

The San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers are busy preparing for their Monday Night Football showdown and injuries have affected both teams at practice this week. For the second straight day, offensive tackle Joe Staley missed practice with concussion-like symptoms.

For the Steelers, Troy Polamalu continues to miss practice with an injured hamstring, while Ben Roethlisberger practiced for the first time since spraining his ankle last Thursday night against the Browns. Here is the complete injury report from Friday:

49ers:

Did Not Participate In Practice: T Joe Staley (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (hamstring)

Limited Participation: RB Bruce Miller (knee), WR Braylon Edwards (knee)

Steelers:

Did Not Participate In Practice: LB Chris Carter (hamstring), S Troy Polamalu (hamstring), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot)

Limited Participation: WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), CB Curtis Brown (knee), QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle)

Full Participation: T Marcus Gilbert (illness)

For more on the 49ers and their preparations for Pittsburgh, head on over to Niners Nation.

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury Update: Steelers QB Limited Participant In Practice Friday

It looks like the question of whether Ben Roethlisberger will play this Monday Night against the 49ers is going to come down to the last minute. The Steelers quarterback, who missed the previous three practices this week with a sprained ankle, practiced on a limited basis on Friday. 

Roethlisberger, who injured his ankle last week against the Browns, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he's not sure if he'll play, but instead noted the coaching and medical staff will have to come to that conclusion. 

"I don't know if it's my decision. I'm going to do everything I can to be out there. It's probably more on them. So, if I'm not out there, it's probably because they didn't feel comfortable with me being out there, protecting myself or whatever it is. They know better than I do. I can just tell them whether I think I can go or not, and I think I can go all the time. I'm going to do everything I can to be out there for this team."

If he can't go, it will be on the shoulders of 37-year old backup Charlie Batch

For more on the Steelers head over to Behind the Steel Curtain. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation

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49ers Vs. Steelers: NFL Upholds James Harrison Suspension

After putting in an appeal with the league, the NFL has upheld it's suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, offically squashing any possibility of him playing the San Francisco 49ers this Monday Night, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk

Harrison's hit on Colt McCoy during last week's meeting with the Cleveland Browns was the last straw in terms of fining the All-Pro linebacker, who is seen as a repeat offender and racked up $125,000 worth of fines for hits during last season. The league is hoping that this will finally send a message to Harrison, though he likely won't be curtailing his hard hitting demeanor anytime soon. 

Harrison will serve his one game suspension this Monday and will dish out $73,529 in base salary for his hit. The earliest he could be eligible for reinstatement on December 20.

For more on the Steelers head over to Behind the Steel Curtain. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation

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49ers vs. Steelers Injury Report: Braylon Edwards Limited, Ben Roethlisberger Misses Practice

Seldom to fans get treated to a Monday Night Football game this late in the season that will feature two of the better teams in the league, but that will all change this week. The San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers will meet up in primetime in what could be a potential preview of the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for the fans, Pittsburgh is banged up pretty badly and could have a few of their star players miss the game. The 49ers are as healthy as they have been all season, although they may have lost starting tackle Joe Staley to a concussion. Here is the full injury report from Thursday:

49ers:

Did Not Participate in Practice: OT Joe Staley (concussion), LB Patrick Willis (hamstring)

Limited Participation: WR Braylon Edwards (knee), RB Bruce Miller (knee)

Steelers:

Did Not Participate in Practice: LB Chris Carter (hamstring), T Marcus Gilbert (illness), S Troy Polamalu (hamstring), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot)

Limited Participation: WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), CB Curtis Brown (knee)

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The potential loss of Staley could be huge for the 49ers, especially with the game expected to be a slugfest throughout. Willis continues to miss time and may not return this season. For the Steelers, the obvious concern has to be with Roethlisberger; the star quarterback sprained his ankle badly last Thursday night and was essentially immobile once he returned to the game. With San Francisco's relentless pass rush, it could be a long night for Big Ben.

For more on the team, head on over to Niners Nation.

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San Francisco 49ers Injury Update: Joe Staley Limited In Practice

The San Francisco 49ers offensive line is showing their youth near the end of the season. They've struggled for much of the last month against teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals, and they still have stiff tests awaiting them.

Chief among them is the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, who have one of the most intimidating defensive fronts in all of football. Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton are a pretty strong three man line, but it's the linebacking corps of James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, and Lawrence Timmons that really gives the Steelers their imposing figure against most opposing offenses. Even with James Harrison out, the Niners will have their hands full.

And Harrison's absence could be cancelled out if one 49er doesn't get back on the field. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports on the status of Joe Staley.

Left tackle Joe Staley, who left Sunday's game with an apparent concussion, has not been cleared to resume full practice, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday.

"He's been cleared to do some walk-through, but no, he's still going through a series of, as you guys like to say, protocol," Harbaugh said of the tests that a player who sustains a concussion must pass before returning to practice.

Not a good sign if you're the Niners. Alex Boone is the backup, and he's average. The 49ers need more than average on their O-line if they plan on being victorious on Sunday.

To discuss Staley and the 49ers, head back to Niners Nation.

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury: Pittsburgh Steelers QB Questionable, Could Play Vs. San Francisco 49ers

Ben Roethlisberger looked like he was in pretty bad shape for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football. But then he came back and limped around and won. He does that a lot. Very frustrating to defenses.

With a week-and-a-half to heal before the Monday Night Football contest against the San Francisco 49ers, it's unclear if Big Ben will be in decent shape to play. With only a Grade 1 sprain, it's sidelining him from practice, but that might not sideline him from the game. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not practice Wednesday, and it's possible he might not step on a field until Pittsburgh visits the 49ers on Monday night.

Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain in the Steelers' 14-3 win over the Browns last week. He was reportedly still limping badly at the team's facility Wednesday. In a conference call with the Bay Area media, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger, an eight-year veteran, could play without practicing during the week.

"I think there's more of a chance of that happening at the quarterback position, particularly if you have a veteran one, than, say, some of the other positions like wide receiver, running back or linebacker," said Tomlin, who termed Roethlisberger "questionable."

With no Roethlisberger around, the Steelers are in deep trouble having to rely on Charlie Batch to win in the Bay. But with Pittsburgh needing every win necessary to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens, it's hard to imagine Roethlisberger staying out of this one here.

To discuss Roethlisberger and the Steelers with fellow Pittsburgh fans, head to Behind the Steel Curtain. To talk about the prospect of facing Big Ben with 49ers fans, head to Niners Nation.

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49ers Vs. Steelers: John Harbaugh Could Potentially Provide Advice To Jim Harbaugh

On a piece written for BaltimoreRavens.com head coach John Harbaugh said in an interview that he will have some added discussions with his brother and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh this week concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers, as both the Ravens and 49ers would benefit greatly from a Steelers loss. 

John Harbaugh has a long standing rapport with the Pittsburgh Steelers considering his Ravens have had one of the most heated rivalries in recent memory between them. In the interview, John makes sure there are no violations broken when speaking with his brother: 

"Is there any NFL regulations on that that you're aware of?" Harbaugh asked Kevin Byrne, Ravens senior vice president of Public and Community Relations.

"I think it's fine for brothers to talk and exchange information," Byrne said.

"I'm sure there will be some of that," Harbaugh said with a grin.

Baltimore is the only team in the NFL to beat Pitssburgh twice this season, accounting for 2/3's of their L's on the year. A Steelers loss and a Ravens win in San Diego would ensure Baltimore some extra space atop the AFC North, while the Niners would better their chances at gaining the all-important first-round bye, so there is some extra incentive for John to help out his bro for sure. 

"The truth is, coaches do that around the league based on best interest and things like that. I know for a fact a lot of coaches have spent a lot of time talking about us before they play us, so I'm sure we'll try to help him in some way if we can."    

I'm sure you will, John. 

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation. For more on the Ravens, head over to Baltimore Beat Down

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Ben Roethlisberger Officially Day-To-Day, But He Should Play With Grade 1 Sprain

Though the Pittsburgh Steelers have listed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as "day-to-day" on the injury report, it's likely that he'll be in action on Sunday. He does have an ankle sprain, stemming from his most recent game against the Cleveland Browns, but he's had plenty of time to rest so far - having the most resting time possible outside of a bye week with his last game being on Thursday Night Football and his next game coming on Monday Night Football.

On top of that, Roethlisberger has always been a very tough quarterback, capable of recovering quickly from injury and playing through the pain. He even went into the game against Cleveland after suffering the injury and played through the pain. He's always been a guy who could absorb a large amount of punishment not just over the course of a full season, but individually through each game, too. Though the Pittsburgh offensive line has toughened up lately, it was largely terrible throughout the beginning of Roethlisberger's career.

Not to mention the fact that it's only a Grade 1 sprain. If it were higher than that, Roethlisberger could be expected to miss multiple weeks, but a Grade 1 is the lowest sprain, which means the time between games should be sufficient to play. Sure, he might not practice, but Ben will play even if he doesn't get practice reps. He probably doesn't need them at this point.

It's not a done deal, though it sure would be nice if Roethlisberger joined linebacker James Harrison on the inactive list on Monday. The 49ers really could use the break after dropping Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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James Harrison Suspended For Monday Night Football Pending Appeal

The NFL announced that it will suspend Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison for one game due to his hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. Harrison has received multiple fines for such hits and the league decided this one was worth a suspension. The league's discipline process allows for discipline to factor in a player's history and Harrison has such a history with the league.

Harrison will have three days to appeal the suspension and he is expected to appeal. The NFL normally can take up to ten days for an appeal to be heard, but they have indicated any appeal would be expedited ahead of Monday's 49ers-Steelers game. The appeal will be heard by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell who rotate on appeals.

If Harrison remains suspended for Monday's game, that is a significant loss for a tough Steelers pass defense. Harrison is second on the team with eight sacks and embodies the physical, aggressive nature of their defense. They are already unsure if they will have sack leader LaMarr Woodley.

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Fantasy Football Week 15 Waiver Wire: Is Kendall Hunter Worth A Spot?

We have reached the most important part of the fantasy football season as the playoffs are officially underway. Teams have either advanced past their first round matchup, or four-team playoff leagues have officially completed their regular season. Accordingly, it is all about the waiver wire pickups that can give you that last little edge to get over the hump and into the money round.

The San Francisco 49ers host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football this week, which means late roster decisions and a tough defensive matchup for 49ers skill position players. There are some waiver wire sleepers on the 49ers roster, but most are better suited for teams that are getting desperate at a given position due to injuries.

If you lost DeMarco Murray because of his broken ankle, one deep sleeper is 49ers running back Kendall Hunter. The 49ers gave Hunter eight carries to Frank Gore's ten and in his day after press conference, head coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged that Gore was not 100% and that he was dealing with some things. Unfortunately the 49ers are fairly secretive about their week-to-week plans, but if you are desperate, Hunter could be an intriguing play. The Steelers rush defense is not nearly as good as their pass defense, so it is something to consider.

Kyle Williams remains a guy with modest upside in an inconsistent 49ers passing attack. Michael Crabtree is the primary weapon, but the team is utilizing Williams a bit more frequently lately. Two weeks ago he had two receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. This week he had four receptions for 42 yards. He has not blown up yet, but he is getting more and more looks.

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NFL Playoff Scenarios: 49ers Must Beat Steelers To Stay Ahead Of Saints For First-Round Bye

The San Francisco 49ers have clinched the NFC West, assuring themselves that they will play at least one game in front of their home crowd. The big question is can they earn themselves a first-round bye?

The Green Bay Packers will wrap up homefield advantage for the rest of the playoffs with one win in their final three games, and considering the Kansas City Chiefs are next in line, they are almost certain to wrap it up next week. The more realistic battle for the 49ers is with the New Orleans Saints, who also sit at 10-3. The 49ers currently hold the number two seed because of the conference tiebreaker (San Francisco is 8-2 against the NFC, New Orleans 6-3). But all it takes is a loss for them to drop back.

The 49ers probably have the toughest game left on the schedule because they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. But their final two games are against the mediocre Seahawks and awful Rams, so at the very worst they're likely to go 2-1. Even if they lose to the Steelers, they will still hold the conference tiebreaker over the Saints since the game is against an AFC opponent.

New Orleans still has to play the Falcons on Monday Night Football, and Atlanta might need to keep on winning at that point to preserve their playoff spot. But that game is at home. They also face a possible trap game against the Vikings in the Metrodome, but otherwise they look like they're in good shape to win their final three games at home. The 49ers will have to win on Monday to reestablish their advantage on that #2 seed.

To discuss the situation with 49ers fans, go to Niners Nation.

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Despite Missed Interception By Dashon Goldson, 49ers Defense Continues To Play Well

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers defense really did step up in a big way. Some folks might have missed that, given that they allowed some big plays to the Arizona Cardinals offense led by John Skelton. Yes, the big plays definitely hurt and there's some kinks that need to be worked out, especially in the secondary, but did anybody even pay attention to how many passes were broken up to perfection? How about the fact that the red-hot Beanie Wells looked completely lost as the 49ers defense swarmed him? What about when Aldon Smith brutalized the Arizona offensive line a multitude of times?

More importantly, what about the three turnovers? If a team has a +3 turnover differential in a single game and they don't fin, that's not on the defense. They did their part. It was all on the offense.

So when folks say that the 49ers should only take their special teams play as a silver lining, remember that the defense, without its best player in Patrick Willis, stepped up big and did what it could to swing things in San Francisco's favor. Sure, Dashon Goldson mis-played that ball that was caught by Larry Fitzgerald, but the mistakes of the offense were far greater.

There's no reason to assume they won't continue to play well, either. They've faced some tough offenses this season, and always seem to come out on top. Going into the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 49ers fans can take solace in the fact that both special teams and defense are coming off of strong performances. 

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Ben Roethlisberger Injury Update: Grade One Sprain Could Prevent Big Ben From Practicing

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had an MRI on his ailing ankle this past Friday and while the results were not good, they could have been worse. Word out of Pittsburgh is that Roethlisberger, along with center Maurkice Pouncey, suffered a grade one high ankle sprain. Grade one is the lowest possible grade of high ankle sprain.

Roethlisberger will likely be extremely limited in practice this week, and might not even take the practice field in advance of Monday Night Football. Whether he is unable to play on Monday is another question entirely. Roethlisberger played through the pain on Thursday, which could bode well for his chances to play on Monday. It will really depend on how he responds to rehabilitation this week.

The 49ers pass defense has had some question marks on the deep ball, which could threaten them with guys like Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. At the same time, if Roethlisberger plays but has limited mobility, we might see the 49ers a little bit more willing to take some risks in the pass rush to get to the Steelers QB. The 49ers have some athletic pass rushers and it would make sense to unleash the hounds on a limited QB. The 49ers have been fairly limited in their use of blitzes, but this game strikes me as an opportunity to open that up if Roethlisberger plays.

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James Harrison Suspension News: Adam Schefter Reports It Could Come Down Tuesday

ESPN's Adam Schefter is tweeting that Steelers LB James Harrison could receive a suspension on Tuesday morning for his hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy last Thursday. As the league has created harsher and harsher rules regarding certain types of hits, Harrison has frequently been made an example by the league. He has received some of the biggest fines the league has handed out recently, and it would not be surprising to see him suspended for his big hits.

For 49ers fans, while it would be nice to remove a dominant pass rusher like Harrison from the equation, it remains to be seen if he will actually miss the Monday Night Football game. The NFL appeals process is not instantaneous, so if the timing is anything like MLB's appeals process, Harrison would likely play on Monday against the 49ers. A player can appeal a suspension within three days and a hearing is conducted within ten days of the league receiving the notice of appeal.

For more on the 49ers and their upcoming Monday Night Football contest, head over to Niners Nation.

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49ers Vs. Steelers: Frank Gore Not 100%, Could His Status For Monday Night Football Be In Question?

On Sunday, against the Arizona Cardinals, running back Frank Gore carried the ball just ten times for over 70 yards. He had a per-carry average of 7.2 and though he seemed to start slow, he looked good. Do you see what's wrong with that first sentence? When you see a stat of 70+ yards and yet only ten carries, there's some red flags. The San Francisco 49ers found themselves in several short yardage situations in which it would have been ideal to use Gore, but instead elected to throw the ball, including the final drive when they passed on 3rd-and-1 and then 4th-and-1.

During his Monday press conference, head coach Jim Harbaugh was noncommittal when giving (non)reasons as to why Gore received so few carries. He did go on the note that Gore was "not 100%", but said he had no answer for the media regarding his playing time.

Could this affect his availability for Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Gore certainly looked good when he got going, but if he's not up to 100%, given his injury history, it might be best to keep him out. Then again, we don't know if that really factored into the fact that he only carried the ball ten times. It's very possible that Harbaugh and his coaching staff were thrown off by the Cardinals, and got away from their game plan. Frustration can lead to losing track of things, including carries by your feature running back.

Either way, it will be interesting to see where Gore lands on the official injury report once it comes out.

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James Harrison Could Be Suspended For Steelers Vs. 49ers

Could James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers be suspended for the crucial Monday Night Football contest against the San Francisco 49ers?

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