49ers

How Dre Greenlaw impressed Kwon Alexander in 49ers' loss to Seahawks

How Dre Greenlaw impressed Kwon Alexander in 49ers' loss to Seahawks

SANTA CLARA -- In the locker room following the 49ers’ first loss of the season, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman preached to his teammates about using the 27-24 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks as a learning experience.

“Like Sherm said, it’s just what we needed,” 49ers rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

The 49ers entered Monday night as the only unbeaten team in the NFL. They come out of the game with an 8-1 record, and a half-game lead over the Seahawks (8-2) in the NFC West.

“In this league, you’re never going undefeated. But at the same time, it’s a wake-up call," Greenlaw said. "It lets you know you can be beat any night. You got to bring your 'A game' every time. I think from here on out, a lot of guys are going to bring forward their best foot and play and execute and finish out the season strong.”

Greenlaw started Monday’s game in place of Kwon Alexander, who is out for the season after undergoing surgery last week to repair a torn pectoral. Greenlaw recorded eight tackles and intercepted Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in overtime.

The play, along with Greenlaw’s 47-yard interception return, put the 49ers’ offense in position to win the game. But the offense stalled after gaining a first down, and rookie fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin shanked a 47-yard field goal attempt after making a kick of the same distance to force overtime on the final play of regulation.

“I knew Greenlaw was going to step in,” Alexander said. “I had no doubt about him. I saw it on his face when he first walked through the door.

“He’s been a tremendous rookie, doing everything right, working hard. He put a lot of extra film in this week and it all paid off. He got an interception. I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. He’s a great young man.”

Greenlaw said he played with a lot of confidence because of the support he received on the field from middle linebacker Fred Warner, along with the encouragement Alexander gave him on the sideline.

“I made some mistakes, but I made some plays,” Greenlaw said. “I felt confident. I knew Fred was going to play his heart out, and he had my back. Having Kwon out there on the sideline, he brought us confidence. I felt good running around.”

Warner said Greenlaw stepped in and did as well as could be expected in taking over for Alexander.

“He honestly stepped in and did a great job,” Warner said of Greenlaw, a fifth-round pick from Arkansas. “I can’t say anything bad. Kwon is a seasoned vet, but Dre came out and played as such. He was communicating great. He got aligned.”

Warner had an exceptional game, as he recorded 10 tackles, including his first two NFL sacks. He forced a fumble that DeForest Buckner returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

[RELATED: Jimmy G sees 49ers' first loss of season as 'reality check']

What can the 49ers take from this loss?

“Just learn from our mistakes, look at yourself in the mirror and see what you could’ve done and keep moving,” Warner said.

How 49ers intend to gain greater East Bay foothold with Raiders in Las Vegas

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AP

How 49ers intend to gain greater East Bay foothold with Raiders in Las Vegas

The 49ers have moved on to Super Bowl LIV. The Raiders have moved on to Las Vegas.

Regardless of which (former) Bay Area NFL team you root for, it's been an eventful week for that franchise. San Francisco sits one win away from its sixth Lombardi Trophy. Oakland ... err Vegas ... officially changed residences.

Many Raiders fans will follow the team to Sin City, whether through in-person support or from afar. But certainly, there will be others who change allegiances, or simply stop watching the NFL altogether, as a result of the pain from watching their hometown team depart for purported greener pastures.

The 49ers are sitting pretty regardless, but with the Raiders now officially out of the region, they're in position to capitalize even further.

Success breeds fan interest, and as the NFL's surprise team this season, the 49ers have been riding a wave of increased fan support throughout their path to the Super Bowl. A large portion of that increase has emanated from the East Bay, and as The New York Times' Ken Belson reported prior to the 49ers' 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, San Francisco has plans to gain an even greater foothold in the region with the Raiders now operating elsewhere.

"We would never try to convert Raiders fans,” 49ers chief marketing officer Alex Chang told Belson. "It’s a multigenerational play here for people who are transplants or kids who are growing up here now and won’t have the Raiders."

As part of San Francisco's efforts to establish a greater presence in the East Bay, the 49ers intend to expand their number of charities and free flag football programs in the region and to invite more East Bay school children to their science and technology programs. For obvious reasons, there is a clear focus on the younger audience, but San Francisco isn't necessarily trying to change their loyalties.

"We want kids to be 49ers fans," 49ers chief administrative officer Hannah Gordon said, "but it’s not like we want someone not to be a Raiders fan."

As San Francisco goes about this expansion effort, the organization can look to its next opponent for proof that it can be accomplished. As Belson noted, the Kansas City Chiefs have been very successful in converting former fans of the St. Louis Rams, who left for Los Angeles in 2016. While the fan anger might not ever entirely subside, Chiefs president Mark Donovan told Belson that ticket sales and sponsorship from the St. Louis region remain on the rise.

While the Raiders have dominated fan support in the East Bay throughout their time in Oakland, their constant flirting with the idea of leaving combined with San Francisco's recent success has resulted in a major shift this season. Belson noted that, according to Fanatics, 49ers merchandise sales in the East Bay have increased by 250 percent compared to last year.

[RELATED: Five moments that defined 49ers' journey to Super Bowl LIV]

With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas and the 49ers looking like a contending team for many years to come, one can expect that number to increase even further next season.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy indentifies 'heart and soul' of 49ers' defense

Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy indentifies 'heart and soul' of 49ers' defense

The Kansas City Chiefs offense is stacked. They have an elite quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and a track team of receivers in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce, the best tight end east of George Kittle.

They shouldn’t fear anybody. Not with that lineup. They do have great respect for the 49ers defense, its ferocious front in particular.

That’s an appropriate stance. The 49ers might have the NFL’s best defensive line, featuring Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead.

The 49ers have the league’s best pass defense and ranked fifth with 48 sacks during the regular season. They have nine more this postseason, largely by taking opponents off schedule and setting up favorable pass-rush situations.

All that’s why the Chiefs attack versus the 49ers defense is strength on strength. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy understands that and identifies what makes the 49ers go.

“They are fast, and they do a great job of rushing the passer,” Bieniemy said in his Thursday press conference. “They have some big boys up front. That’s the heart and soul of who they are. I’m not knocking anybody on that defense because everything starts up front. It’s just like on offense. We want our guys to be the heart and soul of who we are.

"Well, the heart and soul of that defense lies up front. Those guys do a great job of getting off the ball. On top of that, they have a couple of backers who just fly around. On the back end, those guys are playing very, very sound, with one hell of a leader in Richard Sherman.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Robert Saleh details what makes Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes elite]

The 49ers have linebacker depth and legit players in a secondary that plays its coverages well. It’s a complete unit that has earned Kanas City’s respect.

“Obviously they have a ton of playmakers on the defense with the defensive line, linebackers and in the secondary,” Mahomes said. “They have guys that have experience and they have young guys that are super talented and so you can see that the young guys have really grown as the season has gone on and they have learned from other guys around. They’re very sound in what they do and in the coverages that they play. For us, it’s about executing at a high level and knowing it’s going to be a challenge every single play.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).