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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Why Fred Warner, Nick Bosa believe closer-than-expected win vs. Raiders was big for 49ers

Jan 1, 2023 at 6:39 PM--

That was unexpected. The San Francisco 49ers entered their New Year's Day matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders as 9.5-point favorites and riding an eight-game win streak. They were going against a team that benched its starting quarterback, Derek Carr. In addition, the seats at Allegiant Stadium were taken over by fans wearing red and gold.

It was a battle. The 49ers narrowly escaped with a 37-34 overtime win, eliminating their one-time Bay Area rival from playoff contention. Few predicted such a close game.

Shockingly, the Raiders put up 500 total yards on the league's top-ranked defense. San Francisco had not given up those kinds of numbers since their last loss, on October 23 against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was an embarrassing effort by the prideful defense.

However, there is a bright side to how things turned out. The 49ers showed that on those rare occasions when the defense struggles, the offense can pick up the slack. The unit amassed 170 yards on the ground, led by running back Christian McCaffrey's 121-rushing-yard and one-touchdown effort.

Quarterback Brock Purdy was far from perfect but came up big when it counted, showing his typical calmness under pressure. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk hauled in a team-high nine catches for 101 yards and a touchdown from his rookie quarterback.

The offense bailed out the defense, keeping up with the Raiders and eventually pushing the 49ers over the top. What did linebacker Fred Warner learn from the game?

"That we're a complete team," Warner said. "And that's what you need. That's what you need to be able to win big-time games. 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, but adversity makes you stronger. We're as tough as they come. We're going to take a hard look at it, and we'll be better from it."

On Monday, the 49ers will look at their defensive effort and try to correct any glaring mistakes. Maybe it's best that something like this happened before the playoffs.

"Obviously, a ton to correct defensively, but for the offense to take control and win it for us was ginormous," defensive end Nick Bosa said. "We needed that. I'm proud of them. But a lot to get better on. But I think we needed this as a defense.

"That's a really good team. Best running back (Josh Jacobs) I've played against in my career, no doubt about it. That dude's a beast. And they have a lot of really talented players, and the quarterback (Jarrett Stidham) played good. The NFL will humble you 100 percent of the time."

The 49ers will chalk up the game to a learning experience. Luckily, they emerged with the win.

Warner added, "We've just got to be better all across the board—in the second level, on the backend of covering, and being what we're supposed to be, playing our technique."

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