Let's get that clear right off the bat. Losses are never "good". However, I do believe this 24-13 loss can be productive for the 49ers in the long term. At this point, Jim Harbaugh does not need to invoke Fred P. Soft, or whisper in the players' ears that they can't get too sure of themselves. The Minnesota Vikings did just that on Sunday in handing the 49ers a thorough butt-whupping.
The Vikings welcome the 49ers into the Metrodome and did everything the 49ers try to do. Aside from Toby Gerhart's two fumbles, the Vikings were able to play smart, physical football. The 49ers did have chances to get back in the game, but the Vikings were able to keep them contained. The 49ers are normally the team punching the other team in the mouth, but on Sunday, the Vikings showed off their own brand of physicality. As Matt Barrows pointed out, the 49ers defense was gassed by the end of the game. All three Vikings touchdown drives were 80+ yards and that will wear down even the best of defenses.
Moving forward, there is plenty to learn from this loss (like how to stop a swing pass). The key will be how this team rebounds on Sunday against the New York Jets. I was dismayed by yesterday's loss to the Vikings, but given the ebb and flow of the NFL season, I was more annoyed than angry. Anger is more likely to develop if the team performs in a similar manner this coming Sunday against the Jets. This week will provide a learning environment the team hasn't had in a while. The key now will be taking what happened and learning from it. I have faith in the coaching staff, but it will make for a long week of waiting.