But why did Tomlin leave Roethlisberger in the game once the score reached 20-3 late in the fourth quarter?
"He and I have been in that situation before," said Tomlin. "I know what kind of competitor he is. I wanted to support him in that."
To what gain?
"He's a competitor, and I'm not going to deny those guys those opportunities. His teammates definitely have an appreciation for that. I think that's how we're built."
Tomlin said after the game that Roethlisberger "felt sore, of course, but no worse for the wear as far as I could tell."
That means Roethlisberger should play Saturday in a 1 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field against the 2-12 St. Louis Rams. Tomlin said he's also hopeful that center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and reserves Chris Carter (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (foot) – each of whom missed last night's game – will be able to play on Saturday as well.
Tomlin also said that LaMarr Woodley – playing into the second half for the first time in six games after suffering a hamstring injury – was pulled late during Monday night's game because he was feeling fatigued.
"He was fine," Tomlin said. "No setback there."
The only serious Steelers injury in San Francisco was suffered by Mewelde Moore, who sprained his MCL and will miss Saturday's game. Tomlin said a forthcoming roster move is probable.
Tomlin also said that running back Rashard Mendenhall has "sore ribs," but that "I'm sure he'll be fine."
A couple of other topics were broached by the small media corps at Tuesday's press conference:
* Was there an opportunity squandered with the Steelers' poor clock management at the end of the first half?
"Looking back on it, it probably was," Tomlin said. "We dumped the ball to a check-down back that produced minus two (yards), and I thought we had a pretty good play that would've put us comfortably in field-goal range. They covered the guys downfield."
* On whether he was given a satisfactory explanation for the peculiar "leaping" call against Lawrence Timmons on a field goal that then became a 49ers touchdown:
"I didn't get one that I was satisfied with," Tomlin said. "That was a big question mark for me but definitely not the reason we lost the game."
* Did he receive a passable explanation for the muffed punt the Steelers recovered that was ruled interference against Steelers gunner Keenan Lewis?
"Another one that was questionable in my eyes."