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Un-pressing the Panic Button: A Sane Fan’s Guide to the 49ers 2010 Preseason

Aug 20, 2010 at 12:19 AM

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.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Bill
    Aha! A Ninja? I knew it. Guess what? I was overreacting. Not the first time. Probably not the last time either. I feel better now. Perhaps I should eat bran more often. Slow down on 280 - otherwise you're going to become a wet smear in the road. I mean that. You'll break more than just your legs. Not fun. Bill
    Aug 24, 2010 at 11:51 AM
    Response: No worries, amigo. I'll slow down. Hope to see ya at a tailgate this year!
  • Niner_Noe
    Lo que usted dice es verdad.. Gracias
    Aug 24, 2010 at 12:30 AM
  • overthemiddle
    hmm your response to sfninerfan doesnt give you creditability, you just left your soul in the toilet. No need to read your material you have no soul just anger in the heart.
    Aug 22, 2010 at 7:06 PM
    Response: Sounds like you must know my ex-wife. No anger here...and believe it or not, I do have a's just filled to the brim with dry humor tinged with sarcasm. Sorry if that hurts your feelings. I'll be posting again soon if you'd like to take another swipe at me, though. Have a great night!
  • sfninerfan
    English only! You work in America!
    Aug 22, 2010 at 8:13 AM
    Response: Que dices? No se habla close minded nationalist.
  • Dan
    I thought it was great watching Payton out there doing what he does, he's awesome. I won't get mad at Alex for not being better than Payton Manning. That's just not going to happen anytime soon. The fact is nobody even thinks Alex Smith is a bust anymore except a few extremist 49er fans who are stuck in the past. The 49ers are at this point considered the favorites to win the NFC West. Everyone considers it a weak division but they mostly agree we're the best of the worst. Some even think the 49ers can be better than just a mediocre team in a weak division, based on our defense and the new continuity, whatever that's worth. These guys who constantly complain and whine and say the 49ers, whom they claim to be fans of, are going to lose before the PRE-season even starts, are crazie extremist whiner-fans which are fortunately a relic of the old days exiring as we speak. I'm old enough to remember the forty-whiner fans and I never liked them. Even when we win our division the self haters will say we suck. It's a buzzkill and they are no fun to be around and they have no usefulness in the world. That is what I think of these panic-ers A.J.
    Aug 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM
    Response: I understand exactly where you're coming from, Dan. The Niners have a ton of improvement to make, and Smith does, too. I think this will be the season that he becomes a serviceable NFL starter, but only time will tell. In the meantime, don't let the whiners get you down.
  • Dan
    Nice post A.J. I've been reading posts here for a while and like to see what fans think in their comments. I've noticed that alot of people here are pretty hung up on the past. Then there are others who just plain don't like Singletary or his "style." It's almost like reading any other internet article that allows people to excersize their freedom of speech. You get your agitators, your racists, your extremists, and the uniformed masses posting a bunch of ridiculous and sometimes very offensive dribble. Here at I've witnessed alot of unexplainable hatred directed towards Singletary and Raye I've never seen anywhere else. It's almost as if this should be or I think it's hilairious that anyone would panic about a game. I have to question some people's sanity over the issue. I love to watch football and I unconditionally support the 49ers win or lose. I am always up to date on news, injuries, player development, trades, quotes, name it. But there is no way I'm going to sit here and get myself worked up over a stupid pre-season game. I prefer to count wins when wins count.
    Aug 21, 2010 at 10:01 AM
    Response: Try not to let the outliers bum you out, Dan. I remember the 49ers of the good old days...but the 49ers are no longer the dynasty that Bill Walsh built. Some fans have a very tough time accepting that. Try not to judge them too harshly, At the end of the day, we all want to see the same thing...the 49ers sitting atop the NFL.
  • vanis
    Gr8 read!!!I agree 100%. This is football. Not golf of tennis. We have 11 men on the field working like a fine tuned machine. Alex Smith is the motor but the motor is sitting on blocks w/o any wheels!!! We will be good this year and better next year. Gr8ness is in our near futures with steady building and Coach Sing leading the way...
    Aug 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM
  • Bill
    Sorry -- but you're wrong. You're way off. Question? Were you even alive to see the Super Bowl teams of the eighties? If you weren't -- then you have no business whatsoever of posting any article asking fans to "calm down." For those of us who have witnessed 49er Championship Football -- who watched this team rise from the ashes in 1980 -- who personally witnessed the slow and steady rise of this team under a young, idealistic coach by the name of Bill Walsh -- I have a message for you: The time to worry is now. Not two weeks from now. Not one week from now. NOW is the time. We know what good QB play is -- and what we saw in Exhibition Game One leaves us with a great deal of WORRY. Nothing has changed. Our QB still isn't getting the ball to his receivers. The offense still isn't moving. We're still outclassed by first team units. This team should have been ready to roll last weekend. They weren't. They were unprepared. The offense was stuffed. Peyton Manning sliced through our defense like swiss cheese. And you're telling us "don't worry?" I sometimes wonder whose payroll you are on...
    Aug 20, 2010 at 9:57 AM
    Response: I'll do my best to answer each aspect of your comment, Bill...but please feel free to retort if I miss anything. 1) I have been a 49er fan since 1976...and I remember the 49ers dynasty years quite well...the 80's and '90's. Since I was alive for them, I suppose that makes it okay for me to post the above article. So it would seem as though we've resolved that. 2) Since I watched championship football and know what good quarterback play looks like, I will reiterate my point...the first game of the preseason is hardly the time to panic about how any player looks. 3) The offense wasn't moving. Hm. Really. Could that be because our #1 receiver and starting tailback weren't in the game? Or do you think it might have to do with the fact that the plays called were EXTREMELY vanilla? For the entire game, there was no motion, no misdirection, and very little play action. Why? Simple...because you do not run your full offense in the will give other teams film on you, and that will give them a leg up in the regular season. 3) Peyton Manning sliced through a nice, lazy zone coverage being run by back ups, the foremost of which was Taylor Mays, who was slow to get deep on a disguised cover 2. 4) The offense was stuffed. Well, I thought I covered this, but without Gore in the game, our O doesn't work that well, vanilla or not. 5) Don't worry. In game, pay attention to the play of Davis and Iupati...because as it pertains to the 49ers' fortunes this season, getting them used to the speed of the pro game is the most important goal of the preseason. 6) Whose payroll am I on? Well, Bill, I shouldn't let this get out, but you seem pretty chapped. I am a ninja,Bill. I have been employed by the CIA to infiltrate the webzone in order to agitate you. I have cemented my cover by drinking profusely in the parking lot prior to each and every 49er home game, listening to as much punk and metal as is humanly possible, driving way too fast on Interstate 280, and occasionally posting in random threads under the moniker "legbreaker".

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