Fitzpatrick makes splash by creating 2 turnovers in 1st game with Steelers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In his first game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had the same number of interceptions predecessor Sean Davis had in the entire 2018 season.
Fitzpatrick also forced a fumble, which is the same number Davis had in 48 career games before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Acquired for a 2020 first-round draft pick earlier in the week, Fitzpatrick contributed an interception, forced fumble and five tackles in the Steelers’ 24-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fitzpatrick provided the kind of disruptive presence the Steelers were seeking when they obtained the second-year defensive back and former No. 11 overall selection from the Miami Dolphins.
“You saw what he did today,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “He was coming, forcing fumbles, picks. That’s what we need. We talk about turnovers and getting the ball out, and he did both.”
Fitzpatrick provided a jolt to a defense that forced the third-fewest turnovers in the NFL last season and tied a franchise low with eight interceptions. The Steelers were searching for their first interception of the season Sunday and came away with two in the first quarter: one by linebacker T.J. Watt and the other courtesy of Fitzpatrick.
The interceptions led to Chris Boswell field goals as the Steelers took a 6-0 lead.
“I’m not surprised,” Fitzpatrick said about his immediate impact. “My coaches prepared me well, and my teammates helped me out a whole lot. We went out there, and they allowed me to just play my game of football. They kept it simple, and that allowed me to play fast, to play my game of football. I feel like I definitely did that.”
The defense, though, was on the field for 73 plays as the 49ers controlled the time of possession for 36 minutes, 17 seconds.
“I feel like I’m in good condition,” Fitzpatrick said. “I played in Miami. I don’t feel like I played 70 plays. I didn’t even know it was that much. I don’t think anybody did. Everybody looked good conditioning-wise. Nobody looked tired.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .