Niners notebook: 'A win is a win'

The 49ers certainly know they have a lot of room for improvement. Their 34-20 victory over the Raiders, was a step in the right direction because they defeated a team they should have handled.

The 49ers certainly know they have a lot of room for improvement. Their 34-20 victory over the Raiders, was a step in the right direction because they defeated a team they should have handled.

"A win gives us a lot more hope for where we're heading," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "A win builds confidence. It's hard to say where we are, because I know who we played. But a win is a win."

The 49ers (2-3) made plenty of mistakes in their victory over the Raiders, but the Raiders outdid the 49ers in that area. The 49ers blocked a punt, came up with four interceptions and returned a backward pass that was ruled a lateral for a touchdown.

A cynic could look at everything good the 49ers accomplished against the Raiders and determine those plays happened because of Raiders mistakes and not because of anything the 49ers did.

Raiders quarterbacks Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo made several ill-advised throws or passes that were badly off target that resulted in interceptions. When Walter's backward pass fell to the ground, the Raiders did not try to recover the ball. Niners rookie defensive end Melvin Oliver grabbed the ball and trotted 12 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

"I have a different opinion," Nolan said of the 49ers not earning the turnovers. "In the past we've had a lot of those balls fall short and nobody was there to get them. Being in the right place is really important.

"It's like a win. There's no ugly win in the NFL. When you win, that's a good thing. I don't care if you're undefeated or not. The same thing with a turnover, you can look at it a lot of different ways. None of the teams that intercepted Alex last year (apologized)."

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Niners offensive coordinator Norv Turner received a game ball in the locker room following his new team's victory over his former team. Turner was head coach of the Raiders for two seasons before getting fired after last season.

Turner downplayed any personal feelings about playing the Raiders when he spoke to the media during the week and again after the game. But he showed how much it meant to him in the locker room when he spiked the ball in the privacy of the 49ers' locker room to the boisterous cheers of 49ers players and staff.

"I have been doing it a long time, and I know it's not about me," Turner said.

Said Nolan, "(If) you're playing your old team, you want to beat them. It's that simple."

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Rookie outside linebacker Manny Lawson has not provided much help with the pass rush, but he was turned loose on a third-quarter special-teams play and blocked Shane Lechler's punt. The play gave the 49ers possession at the Raiders' 9.

Three plays later, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith found receiver Arnaz Battle on a 6-yard touchdown pass. It was the second scoring connection for them on the day.

"For the offense to punch it in like that, that pretty much shot a dagger straight through their heart," said Lawson, who blocked seven punts during his career at North Carolina State.

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Veteran cornerback Walt Harris has been the 49ers' best offseason acquisition through the first five games. Last week, Harris was selected as one of the 49ers' captains for the entire season.

On Sunday, he responded with his first three-interception game of his career.

"After you get the first one, you just expect to get the others," Harris said.

The 49ers had not recorded an interception this season prior to Harris' third-quarter pick of Raiders quarterback Andrew Walter. The 49ers' four interceptions were the most for the organization in a game since 2001, when they had four in a 38-0 win over New Orleans.

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Rookie defensive end Melvin Oliver scored his first TD at any level when he picked up a backward pass that the Raiders did not go after. Oliver ran 12 yards into the end zone. On Monday, he had the ball in his locker. He said he received between 400 and 500 phone calls, messages and emails from friends and family.

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PLAYER NOTES
--- LT Jonas Jennings underwent surgery Monday morning to repair a finger ligament on his left hand. Jennings left Sunday's game with a wrist injury. He is expected to be ready to return to the lineup Sunday against the Chargers.
--- LG Larry Allen is hopeful to return to action this week. He has missed all but the first six plays of the season with a left knee sprain. Allen is expected to practice Wednesday. If he is unable to play this week, he almost certainly will be available Oct. 29 against the Bears, the 49ers' first game after the bye.
--- WR Antonio Bryant received stitches after sustaining a cut lip after securing an onside kick. He was leveled by Raiders RB Justin Fargas as he caught the loose ball.
--- RB Frank Gore leads the league in rushing with 465 yards on 102 carries. He has a 4.6-yard average. Gore has also caught a team-high 19 passes for 167 yards. He is second in the NFL to St. Louis running back Steven Jackson in yards from scrimmage with 632.
--- LB Manny Lawson, a first-round draft pick who came to the 49ers with the reputation as a pass-rusher, played most first and second downs on Sunday. Coach Mike Nolan said Lawson is much better than anyone else the 49ers have for those base downs, and they don't want to get him some rest on third downs.


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