Why 49ers' defense facing adversity vs. Raiders arrived with perfect timing

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Why 49ers consider adversity vs. Raiders came at perfect time originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LAS VEGAS — The 49ers faced no shortage of adversity in their 37-34 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. It couldn’t have come at a better time for the club.

A nine-game win streak can make any team overconfident, but the 49ers were humbled by a scrappy Raiders team that nearly gave them more than they could handle. In his first career NFL start, Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 23 of 34 pass attempts for 365 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Raiders' 500 yards of offense are the most Fred Warner and the stellar 49ers' defense have allowed all season. The All-Pro linebacker believes the challenges the group faced Sunday will only help them going forward.

“Obviously, it’s a great learning lesson for us,” Warner said after the game. “Not ideal. You don’t want to have to learn that lesson, but a lot to take away from it. We got to take a look at the film. There’s a ton of things we could have been better on all day long. It felt like they had their way all day. We for sure have to be a lot better.

"As much as I hate to say that we needed this, I want us to dominate in all facets of the game every single time we step out there. Adversity makes you stronger. We’re as tough as they come. We will take a look at it and we’ll be better for it."

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs ran the ball 17 times for 69 yards and a touchdown while Stidham himself carried the ball seven times for 34 yards. The defensive line had a difficult time getting pressure on the quarterback, and star pass rusher Nick Bosa did not register a sack for just the third time all season.

“I think we needed this as a defense,” Bosa said. “That’s a really good team. Best running back I’ve played against in my career, no doubt about it. That dude is a beast. The NFL will humble you 100 percent of the time.”

The 49ers found themselves facing a 10-point deficit in the third quarter. Linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is glad the team experienced playing from behind during the regular season. The University of Arizona product believes it will give them confidence to know they can mount a comeback if necessary.

“It’s tough in the playoffs and a lot of close games,” Flanigan-Fowles said. “So to come in and get this type of game before we go into the playoffs, It’s going to be really good for us. It was a really good test for us today and it is a testament to how we handle things around here and how we fight.”

While Flannigan-Fowles admitted his blood pressure might have been slightly elevated as the game was extended into overtime, running back Christian McCaffrey shared he appreciated the adrenaline rush the close game provided.

The versatile star finished the day with 193 all-purpose yards -- 121 rushing and 72 receiving. The come-from-behind victory was an added boost for McCaffrey, who now has recorded his third NFL season of 1,000 or more rushing yards.

“You never know when you’re going to be in one of those game situations,” McCaffrey said. “Obviously you want to blow every team out but that’s not realistic in this league. You need to be battle tested, you need to have your back against the wall so you now how to respond and figure out and find ways and have experience under pressure. It was good that we got it.”

Azeeez Al-Shaair admitted the struggles the defense overcame proves the group can succeed when it really counts. The linebacker believes what they can learn from the mistakes they made in Las Vegas will have long-term benefits.

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“I think the thing about our team that has made it so good throughout this season and as long as I’ve been here is that every game is like the playoffs to us. That shows up on tape. It’s disappointing from a defensive perspective, some of the numbers we gave up.

“We have a lot to correct, but the great thing is, correcting off of a win is a lot better than correcting after a loss.”

Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw continued to stack productive days, sharing that he felt great being back in the mix, on the field with his brothers. The South Carolina product was on the field for 22 snaps -- six more than in Week 16.

The tackle might have said it best when explaining how the group can learn from their Week 17 win.

“Adversity always build character,” Kinlaw said. “Everything can’t always be straight domination, even though that’s how you want the chips to fall most of the time. You got to be realistic. It’s the NFL; every team is good.”

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