If new 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is anything like his brother John in Baltimore, he will be bring discipline to a team that had none in 2010 and hopefully, help restore the career of quarterback Alex Smith.
After failing to produce a winner in two-plus years on the job, the defensive-minded Mike Singletary was fired by Niners' management.
Harbaugh, whose powerhouse Standford Cardinal was coming off of an Orange Bowl victory, was signed to a five-year, $25 million contract by San Francisco in hopes of bringing some offense leadership to a team that has struggled to put up points the past few seasons.
Running back Frank Gore is coming off of a shortened season due to injury in 2010, so depending on his ability to stay healthy, the Steelers might not even see him come Week 15.
All things being equal, when Gore gets involved in a game, he is very tough runner to bring down. It will be Harbaugh's goal to find a good balance between pounding the rock with Gore, and play-action passes for Alex Smith down the field.
Harbaugh will have a good crop of talent to work with. Receiver Michael Crabtree has the skills to become a great over-the-middle pass-catcher, and Ted Ginn has the speed to stretch defenses vertically. Not to mention tight end Vernon Davis.
As freakish of an athlete as there is in the game today, Davis provides a great boost to an offense, roaming the middle of the ball field up the seams.
Hey, it could be worse. You could have to be Ron Rivera and have to watch and wait while Cam Newton goes through his inevitable growing pains.
At least Harbaugh is coming into a situation, where he has an already respectable defense, led by All-Pro middle linebacker Patrick Willis. I don't care who you line up in front of him or behind him, this guy is going to make a ton of tackles and provide leadership in the huddle.
I look for this to be a slug fest. It's going to take high offensive efficiency and an avoidance of the turnover for the Steelers to go into San Francisco, in December, for a Monday Night showdown with the 49ers, and come out with a victory. This one is going to be slippery, literally.