Jim Tomsula and the 49ers suffered a lopsided 43-18 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday — Tomsula’s first loss as an NFL head coach. (Don Wright/AP)

Tomsula vows to fix wounded 49ers

Steelers owner Dan Rooney made his way to the visiting locker room at Heinz Field and tracked down Jim Tomsula after Sunday’s game to offer a few encouraging words.

“It was obviously an honor,” Tomsula said of the surprise greeting from the Hall of Famer. “He just wanted to come down and tell me I was a good kid, ‘keep working, you’re going to have good days and bad days.’”

This was one of the bad ones for Tomsula in his Pittsburgh homecoming as his 49ers took a 43-18 beating just six days after a commanding season-opening win against Minnesota when much went right.

Sure, there was plenty stacked against the 49ers (1-1): the short week, a cross-country flight and early kickoff time.

“If it’s a lopsided game, I’m not really into talking about all the positives, to be honest with you,” Tomsula said. “We had some drops. Nothing was glowingly beautiful yesterday. … It’s a 16-week season and we don’t need to get on a roller coaster. Keep your head focused, lock your jaw and let’s get to work. Own it, fix it, move on.”

A defense that shined at stopping the Vikings — and pounding Teddy Bridgewater — was suddenly vulnerable to the deep ball and Ben Roethlisberger’s strong, reliable arm, especially on third down.

Tomsula, promoted from defensive line coach to replace Jim Harbaugh, took his first loss as a head coach. He won the final game of 2010 as interim head coach after Mike Singletary’s firing.

And it only gets tougher going forward with a road game at division-leading Arizona before the 49ers host Green Bay, travel to the New York Giants and then play at home against Baltimore and Seattle to round out October.

This weekend against the Cardinals, the Niners face another capable, big-play quarterback in Carson Palmer, and he will certainly look to exploit the secondary much like the Steelers did so successfully.

“They just flat out beat us. We took it in the chin,” defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey said. “We put ourselves in a lot of bad situations uncharacteristic of our defense.”

Stopping Palmer could prove an enormous challenge given he has thrown seven touchdown passes already for 2-0 Arizona, including three of his four in Sunday’s 48-23 win at Chicago to Larry Fitzgerald.

The 49ers surrendered costly plays on third down all day and didn’t generate the pressure on the quarterback that worked so well in the Monday night win against Minnesota. Pittsburgh gained 14 first downs on passes.

“They came on third-and-10, third-and-5, third-and-7, third-and-2, third-and-3 and third-and-6,” Tomsula rattled off. “It was third-and-mediums where our biggest struggle yesterday was.”

On the offensive side, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times after taking 52 sacks last season, second-most in the NFL. He did connect with new wideout Torrey Smith on six passes with a 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter while finishing 33 of 46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns with a 106.7 passer rating.

For these two to find their rhythm was a bright spot in a dismal day that had the 49ers outgained 280-106 yards in the first half before production improved after halftime.

“They definitely whipped up on us. There’s no way around it,” Smith said. “We didn’t do enough. We weren’t ready. It’s on us to get ready to move on. We have 14 more games left. If this were late in the year, when we really need it, there’d be room to panic.”

Running back Carlos Hyde has a leg contusion that isn’t considered serious. He was hit in the head during the game but passed the NFL’s concussion protocol, Tomsula said. “He was cleared, I just didn’t want to put him back in,” the coach said. Tight end Vance McDonald has a leg contusion below the knee and X-rays were negative for a fracture. Smith also had a bruised leg, noting, “I’m walking I’m all right, I’m alive.” Reggie Bush (calf) and Bruce Ellington (ankle) were still working through rehab for their injuries.

Carlos HydeJim TomsulaNFLSan Francisco 49ers

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)
Newsom says California will review FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines before releasing to public

By Taryn Luna Los Angeles Times California will review the safety of… Continue reading

Rachael Tanner, left, testifies virtually before the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee Monday, October 19, 2020. (SFGOV courtesy art)
Rachael Tanner set to become SF’s next Planning Commissioner

Rachael Tanner is expected to serve as the newest member of the… Continue reading

People exercise along the closed Great Highway on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Could the Great Highway become a great city park?

Permanent closure would require extensive public outreach, safety and traffic management plans

Flames and smoke overtake a tree as the LNU Lightning Complex fire spreads in Fairfield, California on August 19, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
Many wildfires near full containment, but officials fear continuing hot weather

By Molly Burke The Sacramento Bee Thousands of firefighters continue to battle… Continue reading

Most Read