Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/21/11
In what should have been considered the most anticipated game of the week, sorry Tebow, San Francisco took it to the defending AFC Champions beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-3. The game was delayed twice due to power outages at the stadium, but that was overshadowed by the 49ers play on the field.

San Francisco won mostly with their defense forcing four turnovers and sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three times. Rookie defensive end Aldon Smith recorded 2.5 of those sacks which brings his total to 13 sacks on the year. Other end Justin Smith continued to make an impact all over the field and recovered a fumble. 

The 49ers, who already had the number one scoring defense in the NFL, lowered its total points allowed to 13.2 a game.

The win should certainly provide the NFC's best defensive team with a bode of confidence going into the playoffs. It also keeps the 49ers in second place in the NFC which means a first round bye.

Pittsburgh did move the ball effectively on offense with 389 total yards and over 300 through the air, but costly penalties and three interceptions from Roethlisberger kept them out of the endzone. San Francisco seemed to do a great job containing Pittsburgh wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, but WR Jerrico Cotchery had his best game receiving this season. 49er defensive backs Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rodgers each had an interception bringing each of their season totals to six.

This could be a defining game for a young 49er team. They still have virtually no playoff experience on their roster and a rookie NFL head coach, but San Francisco proved Monday in primetime that they can play with the best of them. 

Many will want to see if this team can play the way they did Monday against New Orleans or Green Bay, teams that San Francisco will almost definitely face in the playoffs. There is a pretty good chance that the 49ers will have to beat both the Saints and Packers if they want to play in Super Bowl XLVI. 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has his team playing slightly retro football. The 49ers lead the league in three key underappreciated stats:  turnover differential, net punting average, and field goals made. Add a excellent defense and San Francisco has a great formula for success. 

However, San Francisco does have some obvious concerns. Their offensive line has given up 39 sacks, and the 49ers only score touchdowns on 38 percent of their redzone attempts.

Last night, the 49ers showed signs of improvement against a good pass rush in Pittsburgh, even without linebacker James Harrison. They gave up no sacks and scored two redzone touchdowns on four tries. 

Furthermore, it is yet to be seen what Quarterback Alex Smith will do in the pressure of the playoffs. But if Monday night was a dress rehearsal, he passed with flying colors.

San Francisco's last two games on the road against Seattle and St. Louis will go a long way in determining their playoff seed, but unlike their stadium, the 49ers shined in the spotlight.
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