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Mailbag: 49ers blitz Cardinals at their peril

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Joe from Brentwood, Calif., writes: Hey Sando, just a few questions. Do you expect to see anything different as far as the niners go this week especially defense, i.e. BLITZING, which seems to be non existant. I would hope to see at least a small (hopefully medium) difference with 2 weeks that singletary and staff has had with the team and shaun hill.

Also, where do you see mike martz next season, will we have a 5th OC in 5 years, how about singletary. This seems to be an ongoing yearly cycle of thinking all will be better next year just to be disappointed again, and I don't see an end to it. Maybe they shouldnt go after a head coach and see what singletary can do with a whole offseason. Just curious to hear your thoughts on this frustrating issue that seems to want to make every niner fan an alcoholic.

Mike Sando: Instability has indeed been one of the 49ers' biggest problems in recent seasons. The constant changing of offensive systems has really hurt. And when they tried to keep some continuity by promoting from within (Jim Hostler), that didn't work, either. The team can't keep together a staff for the sake of continuity alone.

The 49ers' offensive philosophy doesn't line up very well with the personnel on hand, in my view. This should probably be a run-oriented team.

The blitzing question is a tough one. Yes, pressure is good. But do you really want to leave your defensive backs singled up in coverage against a veteran quarterback and the best receiving tandem in the game? Kurt Warner can complete passes by delivering the ball within five yards of Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin.

Did you see the little dump pass to Boldin in the left flat against the Rams? Warner basically hucked it against pressure. Boldin snared the ball at its point with one hand and gathered it under his arm in one motion without consulting his off hand.

A defense also has to consider what Tim Hightower and J.J. Arrington can do as outlet receivers against pressure.

Those are among the reasons we hear coaches and players talking about the importance of getting pressure without blitzing. The 49ers simply haven't been able to do that consistently enough in recent seasons.


Toby from Granada Hill, Calif., writes: Mike, if the team doesn't respond to Singletary this week, and by that I mean play with some discipline and purpose and passion, does that signal the beginning of the end for the head coach? Coming off his postgame rant, pants dropping, and a bye week it would seemingly be a death knell if the team comes out flat.

Mike Sando: The 49ers were more competitive before firing Mike Nolan than they were in the first game with Singletary. I don't necessarily hold Singletary responsible for that. The timing of the move wasn't the greatest. A non-competitive performance against the 49ers would certainly damage Singletary's efforts to win the job and turn around the season.


Drew from Fife, Wash., writes: Hey Sando, I'm sure you're aware just haven't seen you write anything about it yet and it deserves some attention. The tuba guy not only died, but was killed by a couple of young cowards.
I remember going to a Mariners game at the Kingdome when I was real young, he came in around the 5th inning and sat about 10 seats down in our row. When he arrived, he announced his presence by yelling "MAKE WAY FOR THE TUBA GUY!!" He sat down and throughly enjoyed the game, constantly commenting on the umpires' performance with shouts of "I AGREE!!" Of course, if the call was not to his standards "I DISAGREE!!" would soon follow. He loved Seattle sports and was a staple at all big events. He will surely be missed.

Mike Sando: Such a sad, sad story. KING-TV put together a video tribute. Here's one from KISW on YouTube, and another featuring conversations with Ed McMichael himself.


Fernando from Santa Ana, Calif., writes: Hey there Mike great work on the blog. I read it every day when I'm close to a computer. I love the 49ers even when they are in bad situations. My question to you is which player or which position are the 49ers going to use their 1st round pick? I know that the draft is far from where the season is but I just thought I ask. Also, do you think that Jed York will change some personnel during the off-season? Thanks and keep on writing your great blogs..

Mike Sando: Thanks, Fernando. I'd like to know what kind of systems the 49ers plan to use next season on offense on defense. That question must be answered. On defense, the 49ers can't go wrong improving their pass rush. They might be able to use a safety. And then it's clear they might want to find a dependable right tackle on offense. Quarterback is another obvious concern for the long term.


Harold from Columbia, Mo., writes: Sando - I have to question DRC on his hit on Torry Holt - I was at the game - he was several feet out of bounds - cornerbacks use the sideline as part of coverage technique - an NFL out of bounds is clearly defined - several feet of white markings - an NFL player/any athlete has/would have fantastic vision and can sense the boundary peripherally.
I am a Cards fan but thought that was questionable. I like the attitude - but again - the Cards need to increase discipline and limit these penalties - their offense seems to be able to compensate for these penalties but long term in a critical game - as you have made the point - it's not going to work.

Mike Sando: Yep, agreed. The players must be aware of situations. That's on them. The fine seemed appropriate in this instance. Intent is difficult to infer, but if you watch the very end of the body-slam, you'll see Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ease off a bit. He did not pile-drive Holt, so to speak. It was still a bad play, but I don't think it was necessarily a dirty play. Just ill-advised.


Kevin from Turnersville writes: Okay, sounds like a long shot but there are whispers going around that this could be Mike Shanahans last season if he doesn't get this team turned around. What do you think of the 49ers going after Shanahan during the offseason?
Mike Sando: That's a lot of speculation. Mike Shanahan could pick from quite a few teams if he became available. I don't expect that to happen.


Patrick from Redmond, Wash., writes: What kind of back do you think Tim Hightower is going to be in the NFL? Does he have the ability to be a monster on the field?
Mike Sando: I like what Hightower and Arrington offer as part of a rotation. I don't think the Cardinals are set up for Hightower to be a "monster" back. But I do think Hightower has the ability to be an effective starter. He seems to be more elusive than
expected. I think we still need to see him prove it as an every-down back.


CW from Hialeah, Fla., writes: do you think that it would have been a smart move for the 49ers to go after DeAngelo Hall and add a great tandem with Nate Clements?
Mike Sando: Hall wasn't looking to stay in the Bay Area or on the West Coast. The 49ers probably would have had to overpay. Given all the 49ers' needs and given what Mike Singletary is trying to accomplish as far as team building, Hall might not have been a very good fit.