DK'S GRIND

Kovacevic: What happened to O-line representing the rock? ☕

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Mason Rudolph is swarmed by the 49ers' defense Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Maurkice Pouncey, seated at his locker stall and staring straight ahead, wasn't just peeling the protective tape from his fingers. He was flinging it off with a purpose, one after the next. Animatedly. Angrily.

His head was shaking. And this is a man whose head is never allowed to shake.

"If we convert easy third downs, move the chains, we can run the ball ... the game goes better," he began, and he was spot-on, even though I'm pretty sure he didn't hear the question. Not that he needed to. The Steelers are 0-3. And within that, their offense has withered away beyond recognition, maybe never more in recent memory than in their 24-20 loss to the 49ers on this summery Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

"You have three-and-outs ... how the hell you gonna run the ball?" Pouncey kept going. "I mean, come on, everyone knows that."

Is the offense making it harder for the defense?

"Man," Pouncey came back with a sort-of snarl, "that's obvious."

So, I asked, what's the answer?

"We just gotta start movin' the chains. That's it. It's aggravating, man. Just aggravating. I'm so frustrated."

Pressing on, I felt compelled to ask: How much is on the offensive line? Are they getting the push they need?

"The push? What do you mean by the push? I just told you, if we don't convert third downs, we can't run the ball. It's common sense."

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