49ers' answer to first loss? 'We'll be absolutely fine'

Clark: Seahawks-49ers OT thriller proves NFC is up for grabs (1:44)

Ryan Clark reacts to the Seahawks' overtime victory against the 49ers to hand San Francisco its first loss of the season and notes that the NFC is wide-open. (1:44)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- DeForest Buckner called it a "gut check." Richard Sherman went with "important lesson." Jimmy Garoppolo referred to it as a "reality check."

No matter what phrase you prefer, what the San Francisco 49ers took away from Monday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks was their first loss of the season. The 27-24 overtime defeat established the Seahawks as more than legitimate threats to the Niners' early claim on the NFC West crown.

Had San Francisco won, ESPN's Football Power Index had it as a 96% favorite to win the division. With the loss, that number dropped to 74%.

To be sure, the 49ers' first loss doesn't change what they can accomplish. But it comes with plenty of fallout.

Next the Niners must turn around on another short week to face an Arizona Cardinals team that pushed them to the limit a couple of weeks ago before entering a three-game gauntlet against Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans.

Before any of that happens, the 49ers must do something they haven't done during their 8-1 start: bounce back from a loss.

"You learn more in a loss than you do in a win most times," Sherman said. "So I guess that's the silver lining. You always learn more from a loss. I'm sure guys will take that and take the lessons that they need from that. We had a chance to win, and we didn't. Find a way to correct those things and be better. But it's a good lesson you've got to learn during the season. In order to win championships, you have got to have these lessons."

The lessons for the Niners will be plentiful. It was a defeat filled with mistakes, including three turnovers the Seahawks turned into 21 points. There were also five sacks and 10 quarterback hits allowed by a leaky offensive line, Garoppolo's struggle to protect the ball under pressure, and a handful of costly drops or missed catches, one of which turned into an interception.

The good news for San Francisco? Most of those mistakes are fixable. The bad news? It's hard to say which players will be available to fix them after another spate of in-game injuries. A strong response would come much more easily for the Niners if they knew they had the likes of tight end George Kittle and/or receiver Emmanuel Sanders returning from knee and rib injuries, respectively.

Those aren't sure things, and the injuries caught up to the team against Seattle. Overcoming more injuries is going to make a bounce back more difficult, though there was plenty of optimism in the locker room after the loss.

"We'll be absolutely fine," tackle Mike McGlinchey said. "We have the best in the business up top coaching us, and he's as pissed off as anybody is. Nobody in this locker room is going to be able to respond in any way but getting better.

"Everybody has their moment to shine, and everybody has their moment of weakness. That's the way football is, and that’s why it's the greatest game in the world because it constantly tests who you are as a person, and there’s nobody that faltered in this locker room."

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan had a simple message after the loss. Although it was great to be undefeated, there are going to be nights when things don't go your way. He emphasized the importance of identifying the errors, correcting them and moving on.

In recent years, a loss such as Monday's would have been the first in a downward spiral. The past two seasons, the 49ers have lost 11 games by eight or fewer points. Although those losses were excruciating, the Niners believe those moments prepared them for the 8-0 start and can help prevent a backslide.

They aren't the only ones who believe it. Steve Young, legendary 49ers quarterback and current ESPN analyst, believes it, too.

"This locker room is not unsure of itself," Young said. "They actually got more cohesive through the losses last year. They really bought in to Kyle. And they have good leadership. This is a championship locker room without having to have won a championship."

For the 49ers, proving Young right is the next big challenge in a season that still has plenty in store.