When time expired last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, murmurs rose from the beleaguered residents of 49erland...most of them having to do with the marginal play of the Bay Area's favorite whipping boy, Alex Smith.

His 3 for 9, seven-point-something rated performance hardly echoed memories of Montana, Young, Tittle or Brodie. As has been the norm in the Bay Area for the past three seasons (yes, the past three...everybody thought he was the 49ers' next big thing at the end of 2006, remember?), post-game chatter centered around the fact that the 49ers' were going to be led by a terrible quarterback...and that the Niners' offense would again be held captive by a run-first mentality.

The above noted, I have a message to the residents of 49erland: Take your hands off of the panic button, put the bottle down, and if you are holding your breath in hopes that Nate Davis will be this year's starting QB, please start breathing again. In short, folks, things are what they are...and that isn't nearly as bad as resident doomsayers would have you believe.

I know what you're thinking: "What the hell does this guy know? The Niners have sucked for the better part of a decade, and what I saw on Sunday did nothing to convince me that things will be any different this year".

Well, because I don't know how to put this delicately, I'll just get it out: you are wrong. Nothing about Sunday's game has any bearing whatsoever on how this season will play out for the 49ers. Am I saying that Singletary and our beloved Quarenta y Nueves de San Francisco are Super Bowl bound? Hardly. What I am saying is that nothing we saw Sunday should be used to divine how the team will perform when it matters. What we saw was nothing more than a glorified walk through.

Yet again, I know what you're thinking:"Okay, Mr. Know-it-all, how do you know that the 49ers offense won't play as badly during the season as they did last Sunday?"

That one is pretty easy: the team's best offensive player was watching the game from the sidelines. Frank Gore spent Sunday afternoon watching the game, and considering the fact that he is the centerpiece of the offense, it would be safe to say that the offense would likely have performed better with him in the line up.

But Sunday wasn't about offensive or defensive efficiency. It wasn't about game plan execution, playoff position, or home field advantage, either. Preseason football is about testing the readiness of players new to the team, adding wrinkles to the playbook, building chemistry, thrusting backups and rookies into game situations, and determining which 53 players are worth hanging on to come September 4th.

There will be a time to panic about how the 49ers are playing. That time is Thursday, September 2nd at 7pm. The starters will see more playing time, there will be at least some semblance of a game plan in place, and our newly constructed O-line will have had three weeks to gel. So, ever vigilant denizens of 49erland, please un-press the panic button. Take a deep breath. Take a drink. Hell, take a valium if it will help you relax. What we saw on Sunday should not be cause for panic. Not yet, anyway.

Notes and notables

And now for my take on some of the buzz surrounding the Niners headed into Week 2 of the preseason:

Football Outsiders select the 49ers to finish deal last in the NFC West
Wow, really? If this wasn't the same Football Outsiders that picked the Rams to be heavy hitters in the NFC West last season (they finished 1-15), I might actually be concerned. As it stands now, color me unfettered. As an aside, I wonder what their projections are for the 2012 season?

Kentwan Balmer traded to Seattle?
After his mid-camp game of "screw you guys, I'm going home", Kentwan Balmer was moved to the Seattle Seahawks in return for a 6th round pick. Considering the fact that he would likely have been released in three weeks, the front office scored a win with this move. Anyone concerned with a former 49er playing for an in-division rival shouldn't worry. In his two seasons with the team, Balmer has yet to record a sack.

Coffee out, Westbrook in
Just when it seemed like the wheels were coming completely off the Singletary Express with Glen Coffee's sudden retirement, the 49ers scored a major upgrade, signing free agent RB Brian Westbrook to an incentive laden 1 year deal. The upgrade isn't just on the field either. Westbrook hails from a team that is used to winning, and has more playoff experience than the entire 49er roster. For a team that is finding its way back to a winning tradition, the addition of Westbrook couldn't have come at a better time.