Get San Francisco 49ers Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers player prop picks & odds for the (9/10/23) matchup.
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San Francisco 49ers vs Pittsburgh Steelers Player Prop Picks
A Week 1 matchup between two of the NFL’s most famous franchises offers many betting opportunities, including player prop values to consider. I found a few props that I like in this game, but for full disclosure, the only one I’ve actually bet at the time I’m writing this is the Purdy prop, the first one I break down. Feel free to hit me up on X @wayne_sports for questions about any other player prop considerations.
Brock Purdy Under 235.5 Passing Yards (-115 PointsBet)
I don’t fully understand why this prop is priced where it is – Brock Purdy went under this number in six of his eight games last season. One of the two matchups where he went over was against the Raiders’ defense that ranked 31st in dropback EPA allowed last season.
With T.J. Watt now healthy, the Steelers should have one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. The 49ers will be in trouble attempting to block Watt as Colton McKivitz, former fifth-round pick and new starting right tackle, has just five starts through four seasons. He’s replacing stalwart right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who left in free agency.
George Kittle’s injury further complicates things for Purdy as Kittle averaged 5.6 targets per game over Purdy’s seven starts. Kittle’s blocking would also be crucial for the Niners in this matchup against the Steelers’ daunting pass rush.
Purdy will be playing his first game since suffering the UCL injury in the NFC Championship game, and he looked rusty in the preseason as he compiled just a 48.8 PFF passing grade. Purdy is due for some regression this season, and I’m happy to fade him in this matchup.
George Pickens Longest Reception Over 19.5 Yards (-115 DraftKings)
Entering his second season, George Pickens already might be one of the best receivers in the NFL in contested catch situations. He finished last year ranked third in contested catch rate among receivers with 10+ such opportunities per PFF. 32.1% of his targets came 20+ yards downfield as the Niners emphasized him in that downfield role.
The 49ers struggled at times to defend the downfield passing game last season, ranking 31st in EPA allowed on passes of 15+ yards. Kenny Pickett can hit those deep balls as he had 15 big-time throws to just two turnover-worthy plays on 20+ yard passes per PFF. I expect Pickett to give Pickens some chances for highlight-reel plays in this game.
Pickens was over this number in 11 of his 17 games last season, including four of five to close the year. The 49ers lost Emmanuel Moseley and Jimmie Ward from the secondary while Charvarius Ward is dealing with a heel injury. Pickens could feast on this weakened secondary that also lost defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
Diontae Johnson Over 4.5 Receptions (-130 Bet365)
I believe the juice could be worth the squeeze here as Diontae Johnson finished with 4+ catches in 12 of his 17 games last season. A line of -130 suggests an implied probability of 56.52%, but Johnson had a hit rate over 70% on this prop last season. Even Caesars, which has this all the way up at -163, could still offer some value – that’s an implied probability of 61.98%.
Johnson has hit 140+ targets in three straight seasons, but he’s flying under the radar as he didn’t score a touchdown last season. Perhaps there’s some merit to taking his touchdown prop at +290 on DraftKings, but I’d rather make a play on the perceived edge on the receptions prop.
Assuming Charvarius Ward is able to play this week, I expect him to primarily cover George Pickens downfield. That will leave Deommodore Lenoir, who ranked 93rd out of 131 qualified cornerbacks in PFF coverage grade, as Johnson’s primary defender. Don’t be shocked if Johnson has a big Week 1.