The relief was written all over their faces.
You could tell how bad the 49ers wanted, and needed, Sunday's 17-9 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
The pressure was on, and afterwards all the players said a burden was lifted as they finally get in the win column. Still though, the 49ers know they have a long way to go, and they hope this win will be the spark they had been searching for.
They're ready to get on a roll.
"It's a start," defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga said. "We took a step as a team, and now we need to keep it going. We got the first win and we have to continue playing like that."
The win brings the 49ers to 1-5 on the season and they're now sitting two games back in the NFC West. Shawnate Spencer knows this, and he still believes the team can get to where it wants to be this year.
But he knows it will take a lot of work.
"This has to be where we turn things around," he said. "The way I see it, we have to run the table the rest of the way."
Spencer added that Sunday's win was "bittersweet." He said the win proved what the team has known all along, that they're good enough to win football games, but that it also showed how many games they have let slip away this season.
Spencer doesn't want to let any more slip away.
"We're excited about the win, but also frustrated in the sense that it's only our first," he said. "We can still play better football, and when we play our best I believe we're a team that will need to be reckoned with."
While Spencer said the 49ers can play better, it will be difficult to produce a more complete 30 minutes than they did in the second half Sunday.
The 49ers trailed 6-3 at the midway point, but they made the necessary adjustments and came out looking like a different team after the break.
The offense scored two touchdowns on Alex Smith passes, and the defense allowed just 80 yards in the second half.
That's the way the 49ers want to play the rest of the year.
"We're not satisfied," said linebacker Takeo Spikes, who recorded his first interception of the season in the fourth quarter. "Yeah we're happy we got the win, but we're going to have a 24-hour rule with the win as well as like we have had with the losses.
"We're not looking back. There's no looking back now."
Stopping the PassEvery game, one of the goals of the 49ers defense is to limit their opponent to less than 100 rushing yards.
But holding the opposition to double-digits through the air? That's "nearly impossible," Spencer said.
But that's exactly what the 49ers did Sunday.
Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell finished the game just 8-for-21 for 83 yards, including a stretch of more than 30 minutes where he didn't complete a single pass. Campbell connected with wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey for eight yards with 1:05 to go in the first quarter, and didn't have another completion until the 10:37 mark of the fourth.
"We came to play today," Spencer said. "The credit for that has to be spread around to everyone. We did a good job of getting pressure up front and we covered guys up pretty well. Also, the offense held onto the ball for a long time with sustained possessions which kept their offense on the sidelines."
Bounce-Back GameFollowing last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, running back Frank Gore placed a lot of the blame on himself.
He said his two fumbles were unacceptable, and he was upset about averaging less than three yards per rushing attempt.
He certainly fixed that Sunday.
Gore rushed for 149 yards against the Raiders, and made it difficult for their defense to bring him down all afternoon.He averaged six yards per rushing attempt, and had a big run of 64 yards which set up the 49ers final touchdown.
"I was patient," he said. "I had to take four, I had to take five. But we kept wearing them down and it opened up."
Full-Sized FullbackWith the clock winding down and the win in sight, all the 49ers needed to do on their final possession was run out the clock.
So when they got the ball with 2:39 remaining, they brought in the 330-pound Sopoaga to be lead block for Gore the rest of the way.
When the coaching staff told Sopoaga he was headed into the game to play fullback, he was excited. Sopoaga played rugby for 12 years, and he said lining up at fullback brought him back to those days.
He loves the opportunity to hit guys with a running start.
"I enjoy it, and I hope there's more coming," he said.
While Sopoaga hopes to play fullback more in the future, opposing defenses can't say the same thing.
Spencer has faced Sopoaga the fullback before in practice, and when he sees the big man in the backfield, all he wants to do is get out of the way.
"When he comes in the offensive huddle in practice, I leave," Spencer said. "I just go to the sideline. I'm not messing with Isaac. He's a very athletic big man. Offensively and defensively, I think he really helps out when he goes in there."