Mailbag: Pete Carroll's character

Lou from Montreal writes: What can we learn about Pete Carroll in light of LenDale White's recent comments regarding his release from the Seahawks and Carroll's explanation? With Taylor Mays' comments on draft day and the ongoing USC scandal, this is the third incident in a period of a few months that calls into question Carroll's integrity (or lack thereof). Is this a pattern or just coincidence? One thing is certain, incidents like these would not happen under Mike Singletary's watch.

Mike Sando: White has little credibility. Mays seemed to let his frustrations get the best of him. I wouldn't use those situations to evaluate Carroll. We could flip it around and say Carroll's integrity is such that he wouldn't tolerate White's alleged antics on his team. That would be overreaching as well.

The situation at USC is probably most telling of the three, but the most compelling character testimonials regarding Carroll painted him in a pretty good light.

As one veteran policeman told Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune regarding Carroll's work to curb gang violence, "He invited gang members into his world. I mean, here was the USC football coach out there with them in the middle of the night. Some of these guys … they’re not listening to anybody else, and they don’t care about anybody else, but Pete Carroll comes in there and stops them dead in their tracks. Even the bad guys … stops them dead in their tracks."

We shouldn't oversimplify one way or another. No one is a saint. No one is perfect. I haven't seen enough from Carroll in his current role to say much about the values he brings to the job.

Brad from Portland writes: How is there even a debate on the best-ever team in the NFC West? You have arguably the best team EVER (1989 49ers) vs. a couple teams that didn't even win the Super Bowl, and one that came within a yard and a half of losing the Super Bowl. You have a team that had the greatest QB and WR of all time, and one of the most underrated defenses ever. I understand the Niners are down now, but to say there has ever been a team that can compare to the greatness that was the Niners of the 80s is just plain wrong.

Mike Sando: The items listing the greatest teams in NFC West franchise histories did not equate the 1989 San Francisco 49ers to any of the teams from other franchises. I'm not 100 percent sure which 49ers team was the best, but that era of 49ers teams would have to rank among the three or four best in NFL history. Some of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys teams would be on that list, as would the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers teams. I'm less sure about the early 1970s Miami Dolphins teams, but they would have to factor in there somewhere as well. And of course the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers were up there. Hopefully I've overlooked a worthy team. Can always use more action in the mailbag.

I know 49ers fans have debated which of their teams was the greatest. A strong case can be made for the 1984 and 1994 teams. The 1988 team was the only one that won a title with Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice together. That's hard to believe on the surface, but it shows that we should probably judge these teams over several years. In picking a single team, I chose the one that featured Montana and Rice, with Mike Holmgren running the offense based on what he learned from Walsh. That 1989 team's playoff dominance set it apart.

Juanqui from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico writes: Hi Mike! I wanted to know your opinion on players picked in rounds 4-7 who can have an impact on the NFC West, particularly, my 49ers. Thanks! PS: I like Kyle Williams and Anthony Dixon from round six (49ers).

Mike Sando: NFC West teams drafted 22 players from the fourth through seventh rounds this year. The first one chosen, Mardy Gilyard, might have the best chance to contribute right away. The Rams should be able to use him immediately on special teams and quickly on offense. I don't see how Dixon would factor into the 49ers' offense as a rookie unless injuries made it so.

Pavlos from San Francisco writes: Hi Mike, still following the blog pretty much every day. I have a question for you. As I have been reading different notes from obvservors at the recent Niners camps, it seems that most days there is at least one note about Taylor Mays doing something impressive. Since that was the big knock on him coming out of college (not enough big plays), how do you think this bodes for him? I will admit, I am probably over-enamored of the idea of a Dashon Goldson (assuming he plays as he did the second half of last year) and Mays pairing back there. Two young and talented safeties like that would shore things up for years. What do you think? PS: No knock on Michael Lewis, I love the guy, but three concussions in one season is when it's time to think about the rest of your life and your family, in my opinion. Keep up the great work!

Mike Sando: Thanks, Pavlos. The early reports on Mays do seem positive. That is good for the 49ers. Mays has talent. Some were talking about him as a potential early first-round choice not all that long ago. He will need good coaching, not just in terms of instruction but also in terms of how the 49ers use him within their scheme. Mays took a beating from critics as his true draft-day value came into focus. This probably was not fair. He had been built up into something he wasn't going to be, then torn down for failing to live up to expectations. The truth is that he's a talented player with some flaws, and he'll need some time to develop, but he has the talent to become a good starter over time.