Mailbag: Seeking solutions for Seahawks

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kurt from Colorado Springs, Colo., writes: Mike - I'm one of a thousand guys who miss your reporting in the TNT. I'm also one of a 1 million guys who are disappointed with the Seahawks' season. Play GM for a minute and tell us what you would do to right the 'Hawks' ship and get us back into playoff contention in 2009.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Kurt. The safe pick early would be to land an offensive tackle. But as Deon Grant would say, perhaps this isn't the time to play it safe.

The Seahawks need to fix their pass rush. They can't count on Patrick Kerney to do that no matter how much they are paying him ($4 million in salary with a $3 million roster bonus, all in 2009). Kerney's injury situation remains a concern and he's getting up there in age.

Fix the pass rush and you make everyone in the back seven look a lot better. I could also see adding an interior defensive lineman. Marcus Tubbs made a huge difference in the middle of that defense when Seattle went to the Super Bowl. A player in that mold, only more talented, would make the Seahawks much better on defense.

On offense, I would draft for the line, add a veteran receiver and do everything possible to get Matt Hasselbeck healthy for the long haul. He's still the best option at quarterback for 2009.

Bob from Collierville, Tenn., writes: Mike, Why are the yards after catch (YAC) so hard to come by with the 49ers? I know on Sunday's game it was said they lead the league with the most 20+ yards plays, but where are they after the catch is made? Gore hasn't had that many long runs. Is this a matter of too many curl patterns or slow receivers?

Mike Sando: I would generally associate shorter passing games with greater yards after catch. The 49ers' system has called for longer passes. Their receivers are not dynamic. Their quarterbacks are not dynamic. The timing isn't what it would be if the quarterbacks and receivers had been in the same system for years. Those are a few thoughts off the top of my head. I do not chart yards after catch, so I can't vouch for your premise. But here are some YAC-related stats available online.

Mark from Montana writes: Mike, There has been tons of chatter in the last 24 hours that Mora may not be staying with the Seahawks after all. Are you hearing anything about this?
Mike Sando: I have heard there is chatter, but I haven't heard anything with any weight to it. I've been skeptical from the beginning. That won't change until I hear something beyond speculation.

Alex from Seattle writes: Hi Mike, Let's talk Hasselbeck... With all his injuries and a team falling apart around him, how many more starting seasons does he have under his belt? Should the Seahawks be thinking QB this draft? Can an effective rookie lineman (or any other position) really turn this team around in Hasselbeck's remaining years?
Mike Sando: Drafting a quarterback in 2009 would make sense based on Hasselbeck's age and injury situation. Hasselbeck should have two or three seasons left, at least, but the back injury raises questions. As for one player turning around the team, that's unlikely. But you still have to draft with the long term in mind. You can't try to hit home runs if there are not home runs to be had.

Joe from Dallas writes: I thought of this after reading JW's comment on the Bangles in this weeks power rankings. If a team managed to tie every game of the regular season, would they have a record equal to an 8-8 team? And, in a weak division, could they theoretically make the playoffs at 0-0-16?
Mike Sando: Great question. I love the fact you thought of it. Tiebreaking procedures say a tie counts as one-half victory and one-half defeat. That would equate to 8-8, at least in my book. It's never going to happen, of course. I wonder, though, what if you had an 8-8 team and an 0-0-16 team in the same division. Would we then go to the next tiebreakers? Someone out there might have a definitive answer.

Update: HornerJD50 wins first prize by pointing out that there could not be an 8-8 team and an 0-0-16 team in the same division. We could see it in the same conference. And we could see 0-0-16 with 7-7-2 in the same division.

Anthony from Los Angeles writes: Any chance the Rams draft Rey Maualuga from USC? As a USC student, I've had the privilege of watching this guy play for 3 years now. He is the prototypical MLB. I've always thought, given his speed, that Will Witherspoon would be a better fit at OLB. Maualuga would facilitate that transition and we would have 2 SOLID linebackers, which I think is our biggest weakness on defense.
Maualuga is a run-stopping ball-hawk, and I may sound like a homer when I talk about him but I really don't see any linebackers in college at his level (keep in mind, I saw Laurinaitis play against us in person this season and wasn't that impressed). The Seahawks did it with Tatupu, the Steelers did it with Polamalu. Maualuga is the same breed.

Mike Sando: I honestly have not seen him because I don't watch college games. Will Witherspoon would have an easier time playing the middle if the Rams had bigger people in front of him on the inside of that defense.

Nick from Rochester, N.Y., writes: Hey Mike, what do you think the 49ers chances are of getting Matt Cassel and do you think he is worth taking a shot on? Also where do you think Alex Smith will end up? Thanks so much! I love your blog!!
Mike Sando: Thanks, Nick. Matt Cassel is in an excellent situation with Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Randy Moss and Wes Welker. I'd be cautious before making a long-term commitment to him in free agency. The 49ers need to do a much better job setting up their next quarterback for success.

I don't have a feel for where Alex Smith might end up. It's tough to picture him becoming a serious contender for a starting job right away in 2009.

Kuya from Seattle writes: Hi Mike, I sure miss reading your blogs on the simple TNT site, but now that you're with the big boys @ ESPN, you gotta do the whole division. Anyway, I'm a diehard Seahawks fan and a proud Husky alum. I've been reading on blogs and wikipedia, etc. that Mora has signed a deal with the U-Dub. Is there any truth to it or is it just farse? You were always on top of things when it came to the "inside" of Seahawks, please give me some closure on this topic - as it has been dragging on and on.... Thanks
Mike Sando: Thanks, Kuya. The scuttle I've heard suggests the situation should be resolved sooner rather than later. I've seen nothing to make me think
Mora is going to take the job at Washington.

Chad from parts unknown writes: Hi Mike What do you think the chances of the 49ers actually making the playoffs are? As a fan should I leave a window of hope open?
Mike Sando: Go ahead and close the window. If you need to break the glass later, it's worth it. But the Cardinals would have to go 0-4 the rest of the way to miss the playoffs. Even then, the 49ers would have to go 4-0. We are more likely to see an NFL head coach with a Hall of Fame resume pull down his -- wait, bad analogy. Let's just say it's not gonna happen.

Mike from Los Angeles writes: Sando, The rumors are flying in Seattle that Seahawks head-coach-in-waiting Jim Mora is going to instead take his "dream job" at the UW. I know we're getting ahead of ourselves here, but is there any chance that Mike Holmgren becomes club President or something like that instead of taking a year off and somebody like Andy Reid ends up coaching the team? And could we possibly dump Tim Ruskell for Randy Mueller? Oh, please, please.
Mike Sando: The 49ers have a better chance at the playoffs than you have realizing that scenario.

NFC West Ownership from parts unknown writes: What can we do to get this division to a respectability rivaling that of either the NFC South or the NFC East?
Mike Sando: Dream.

Rudy from Chicago writes: Enter Sandman, complete with all answers NFC West. Here's a question for you, Oh Wise One. Now, I can agree like every other 9er faithful out there that this week's win was a big one. However, is the victory as huge a boost to Singletary's prospects for the HC position next season as people are saying it is? Does Sing have a realistic shot at staying HC for next season?
I'm inclined to say no, although I would like Sing to stay with the franchise if at all possible. He's a great influence on our players. Also, do you see the Rams and 49ers competing for coaches this off-season as hard as they compete in games during the regular season? Keep up the outstanding work, and Happy Holidays!

Mike Sando: I'm also inclined to say no, but the 27-year-old team owner is the wild card here. Jed York does not have a track record for us to study. He might be less jaded than the typical owner. Singletary's passion might resonate more with him than with a jaded owner. Also, the franchise has suffered from instability on the staff. If the 49ers cannot find a candidate better than Singletary in 2009, perhaps Singletary sticks around on a shorter-term deal.

Jake from Columbus writes: with the possibility of not having Branch, Engram, and/or Koren Robinson next season, what are the chances of the Seahawks going after a top WR like Chad Johnson, Housh or even Boldin? Also, who would be the best fit?
Mike Sando: Anquan Boldin would be a tremendous fit. I just don't see the Cardinals parting with him, particularly within the division. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is also a tremendous player, and he lacks the baggage associated with his high-decibel teammate. Seattle clearly needs to address the position in 2009. I'll have a better feel for likely candidates as free agency approaches. It's early at this point.

Silvio from Reston, Va., writes: Sando, love the blog, keep up the good work! Just throwing this out there....would the 49ers be desperate enough to go after Mike Vick when he gets out? I don't think he would be out of reach for money reasons. Thanks!
Mike Sando: Thanks, Silvio. I'd be shocked if the 49ers went that route. The Bay Area wouldn't smile upon a convicted animal abuser at quarterback, would it?

Mike from parts unknown writes: Hey Mike, just wanna say you probably have one of the coolest jobs in the world. Anyways, looking at the Rams record and schedule, do you think it would be better for them to not win a game and get a higher draft pick? I think they should be able to pull out at least one more on the 9ers or Hawks at home. Being a Ram fan, I hope they win 2 more to finish with a 4-12 record and at least say they improved from last year but I also would rather have a second or third round draft pick instead of a fifth or sixth.
What are your thoughts? Speaking of the draft, I am thinking a OT. Maybe Andre Smith or Michael Oher. Everybody is saying Bulger must go and we should pick up Bradford or Stafford but I don't think the Rams can afford to give up Bulger just yet. Maybe if he gets a little more protection, he will get comfortable again and return to his old self. Crabtree is also and option because Torry Holt is probably gone next year. We also need some secondary and linebacker help too... geez, there are too many holes to fill.

Mike Sando: It's a very cool "job" and I absolutely love it. Hopefully that comes through. Given how far the Rams have fallen, a few additional defeats aren't going to hurt anything. The 49ers are in a different position that way. They are fighting their way back from rock bottom. I'm not saying the Rams should purposely lose games. But if you're a fan of the team, you could reasonably hope for the higher draft choice.

It's definitely time for the Rams to address the offensive line. Selecting the best available tackle would make sense.