Fred Warner knows the 49ers can be better.
The All-Pro linebacker and team captain called upon San Francisco to be more mentally tough after a 22-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. It was the 49ers' second straight defeat, with more than one player calling the game "humbling" after the fact.
From San Francisco's three turnovers to Kirk Cousins passing for 378 yards, things went wrong for the 49ers in all facets of the game -- including a devastating Vikings touchdown to close out the first half. While many questioned defensive coordinator Steve Wilks' decision to blitz on that play, Warner was more disappointed in how the 49ers responded to adversity in the aftermath.
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"Obviously people are going to be like, 'Oh, why are we going to blitz in that situation, but you look at it, Mooney [Charvarius Ward] had an interception -- their player happened to make a great play and goes in there and scores," Warner told reporters after the game. "... Of course you don't want that to happen, but you've got to overcome adversity. I think the thing right now with us is we've got to find ways to win the grimy games, the ones that it's not looking great and find a way. Obviously we can win 30-10, but who are we and what are we going to do when we're down and we've got to come back and win a game?
"We've shown, obviously, what we're capable of, like our best version of ourselves, but at the end of the day, I want our mental toughness to go up. I want to win in any form or fashion. I don't care if it's ugly. All right, we'll figure it out later on, but let's find a way to get this done, you know? It's back to the drawing board. Obviously we've got a big game coming up against the [Cincinnati] Bengals at home. It's a must-win."
The loss certainly was a letdown for a 49ers team flying high just three weeks ago. But they've gone from 5-0 to 5-2 now that Week 7 has come and gone, and Sunday's loss gave them another, more stern reality check: San Francisco's loss to the Cleveland Browns wasn't just a fluke or a bad day. The team officially is on a losing streak.
San Francisco 49ers
And Warner is right -- the 49ers need to get back on track, and quickly. But the Bengals will come to Levi's Stadium fresh off a bye and hungry for a win after experiencing struggles similar to the 49ers' to start their own season. The 49ers started off hot and have hit a rough patch, however, while Cincinnati fell short of expectations at first and now appears to be figuring things out.
After starting out 5-0 and atop the NFL power rankings to start the season, the 49ers have a target on their back and opponents have come out swinging, even mocking the team's boombox entrance in back-to-back weeks. Joe Burrow and the Bengals certainly will look to follow suit and hand San Francisco its third straight loss.
If there were any time for the 49ers to show a little resilience, it's now.