Playing the Pittsburgh Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger should be an easier task for the San Francisco 49ers, right?
In a recent conference call with the Pittsburgh media, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was not only glowing with Ben Roethlisberger and everything he has accomplished during his long NFL career, but also the fact that he played the Steelers without Roethlisberger will be a challenge. Why? Because nobody knows what the crime will look like with Mason Rudolph at the helm.
Will it be similar? Will the Steelers look like they did schematically compared to the season when Rudolph played? The fact is … nobody knows.
"Obviously there will be a difference when you lose someone like Ben. How he plays is unique to everyone. Ben has a style that you only see with Ben that has made him one of the best quarterbacks of our generation. You know it's going to be something different, but we still don't know how. We have to prepare for everything and be ready for how it is different in the game. We know it will be a little different. You don't just run a whole new crime because you change a guy. The first game with him starting out, you have to see what's different and be ready to adapt. "Sa Shanahan.
While the offensive playing field can certainly change depending on how Randy Fichtner decides to deploy his troops, but can the same be said about the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick on free safety on the defensive side of football? According to Shanahan, the two situations are extremely similar.
How can Fitzpatrick affect a defense? According to Shanahan in many ways.
"He can play any position that everyone knows. Which is a huge advantage for the defense. You never know where they can put him and match people. It can always change things on the third down. Just how you focus on things, what position they put him in. I think it would be very difficult for such a guy to play directly with just three exercises, but I also know that Minkah is another guy mentally. He can handle a lot of things. I expect him to be out there lots. "
When you read these quotes from the opponent's head coach, it is more than just coach language, in my opinion. There are a lot of truths to Shanahan's words. The Steelers are approaching Week 3 almost as if they are a new team, with a new season about to start. The offense could come out looking completely different, and the defense may have a never-before-seen wrinkle that involved the use of the versatile Fitzpatrick in the rear of the defense.
There are many unknowns around the Steelers at this time, and for some odd reason, there is a buzz around this team within the fan base. Fans are excited to see what the future may have. Week 3 in Santa Clara, California will provide an early insight into that future, and the hope is that everyone will love what they see.