Preseason has a much different feel to it this season as opposed to the last few seasons. In past years, the team itself has been viewed as so bad, that you really cared if the 49ers won each preseason game or not. You wanted the team to get back into the habit of winning and know what that feels like. You wanted them to hold their head up high about something. Even a preseason game. This season is different. Winning a preseason game is an afterthought not only for the coaches, but for fans it seems. This year, because so much is expected of this team and because they seem better prepared to actually do some damage in the NFL this season, winning is an afterthought. While fans would still like for the team to have come back and beat the Chicago Bears last night in the meaningless game, what was more important was the evaluation of talent and sorting out the depth chart.

The team will make nine player cuts today with wide receiver C.J. Brewer and defensive end Melvin Oliver being placed on injured reserve. While the 49ers would have enjoyed a better performance on Saturday, the evaluation of each player was much more important than the win in Chicago.

While the majority of the fans have kept a cool head knowing that all of these games are simply practice scrimmages, some tend to overreact when it comes to preseason games. Here is a look at some of the pessimistic and optimistic views that have come from evaluating the team's first three preseason games. I am more on the optimistic side.

Pessimists: This rebuilt defense has been horrible. There is little pass rush and we made Rex Grossman look like a Pro Bowl caliber player. We are doomed.

Optimists: The defensive line has been playing without two very key players, defensive end Bryant Young and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin. That will definitely help with both the pass rush and against the run. Newcomers like linebacker Patrick Willis are really performing well and rookie Ray McDonald should make an impact on the upcoming season. Even Isaac Sopoaga, who I have been very hard on in the past, has had very solid performances over the last couple of games. The defense is young and hungry. There are a lot of new faces and it will simply take some time for this defense to gel. Don't be surprised if they are not solid from the get go. In time, they will be alright. I mean, Nate Clements and Walt Harris are our starting corners. Two shut down guys. Shawntae Spencer, a guy who could probably start on a few other teams, is our nickel cornerback. That is pretty scary for offensive coordinators to plan against.

Pessimists: Alex Smith played a horrible game on Saturday. Looks like a waste of a first pick.

Optimists: The team seemed to be more interested in evaluating its backup running back position than evaluating Smith. Eight pass attempts are hardly enough to find any kind of rhythm against a pretty good defense like the Bears. Smith performed very well against the Broncos and the Raiders, both of which should have solid defenses this season. I am sure he will be ready for Arizona come opening night.

Pessimists: Jim Hostler did a horrible job of play calling on Saturday. He is awful and the offense will suffer this season. I miss Norv Turner.

Optimists: The 49ers appear to be displaying a very vanilla offense. This is likely because the Arizona Cardinals are probably already gathering game film on the starters. No need to show your full deck if you don't need to. This was obvious toward the end of the game on Saturday when the team could have mounted a comeback in the trailing minutes but still threw in a few run plays to see how the backup runningbacks would perform in such a situation (not everyone can be a Frank Gore). The same goes for the defensive side of the ball.

Pessimists: Kwame Harris is just awful. He is a solid run blocker but really hurts the team with his lack of technique during pass protection and his lack of concentration and drawing penalties.

Optimists: Yeah, we agree. That is why Joe Staley will likely be starting once we open the season. Staley has shown great potential and while he is still raw, he has much more upside than Harris. Harris will make a fine backup though.

Pessimists: Matt Leinart has been lighting it up in Arizona. We should have waited a year and selected him over Alex Smith.

Optimists: These are two very different quarterbacks in two very different systems. Leinart and his receivers are the focuses on offense and the Cardinals have no problem with showing that during their preseason games as they have had him throw the ball more than Smith has. Smith is not the only focus in San Francisco. The team has a young pro bowl running back in Frank Gore to help carry the load. While it will be years before anyone can determine who was the better choice, right now, Smith is doing fine.

No, this is not a Super Bowl caliber team yet. However, this is also not a .500 team either. Unless there are some major injuries (so far so good), the team will be primed and ready to make some noise come September 10th.