NFC West: Steelers-49ers MNF

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Steelers just ran onto the field at Candlestick Park to rather thunderous approval.

Terrible Towels filled the air above fans' heads all around the stadium. A few trips around the concourse earlier Monday validated a heavy presence of Steelers fans in the stadium. That is fairly typical. The Steelers have fans everywhere, and their fans travel well for games -- especially big games.

I'll never forget settling into my seat at Ford Field for Super Bowl XL and suddenly finding myself awash in a sea of terrycloth yellow when the Steelers ran onto the field. That was essentially a home game for Pittsburgh, minus the elements.

In my experience, fans eager to watch their teams on the road tend to find their seats earlier than the locals. I'm expecting the many still-empty seats at Candlestick to fill with mostly 49ers fans. Still, it's looking like this game will rival the 49ers' game against Dallas for most visiting fans at Candlestick.

What 49ers miss without Braylon Edwards

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
7:27
PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO — Inside linebacker Patrick Willis is inactive. Left tackle Joe Staley is active.

Edwards
Those were the San Francisco 49ers' pregame moves we could see coming.

Braylon Edwards' inactive status Monday night comes as a mild surprise. Injuries have slowed Edwards this season and his production has been inconsistent.

The chart illustrates what the 49ers might be missing -- or not missing -- with Edwards inactive. It shows quarterback Alex Smith's yards per attempt by down and overall for the five wide receivers with receptions for San Francisco this season. Smith averages only 5.5 yards per attempt when targeting Edwards, lowest among the five.

Josh Morgan is on injured reserve. Smith completed 15 of 19 passes for 220 yards when targeting Morgan this season.

Brett Swain is active as the fourth receiver for the 49ers. Ted Ginn Jr. starts for Edwards. Despite inconsistent production as a receiver, Edwards stood out for his blocking against Arizona last week. The 49ers' receivers have been strong blockers this season.

The 49ers' strength at tight end gives them options if their numbers at receiver are limited.
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Monday Night Live: Steelers-49ers

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
6:30
PM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the "Monday Night Football" match up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. See you there.

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