Heyward’s injury was one of the many unfortunate occurrences in Pittsburgh’s season-opening loss to San Francisco on Sunday. He played just 14 snaps before exiting with the injury and did not return, forcing the Steelers to piece together a replacement plan that included Isaiahh Loudermilk and Keeanu Benton. With Heyward out, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey capitalized, finishing the day with 152 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while quarterback Brock Purdy found the going easier in a 220-yard, two-touchdown outing.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin admitted his team “got kicked in the teeth today in a lot of ways,” following their 30-7 defeat. The absence of Heyward — a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and the grizzled veteran of Pittsburgh’s defense with 78.5 career sacks to his name — will sting much longer than Sunday’s loss did.
Next up, Pittsburgh takes on the division-rival Cleveland Browns on Monday night.