Mailbag: Seahawks, 49ers dominate

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Mike, why cant the 49ers just admit they don't have a vaild starter at quarterback and look elsewhere? It's embarrassing as a fan to watch them kick field goals for their only points every game. Any possibility they can steal Kurt Warner from the Cardinals?

Mike Sando: I can't imagine the Cardinals dealing Warner within the division. Warner provides a terrific fallback option for the Cardinals if Matt Leinart falters. As for admitting they don't have a valid starter, the 49ers have done that by their actions. If they thought they had a legit starter, they would have named him by now.

Adam from Boston writes: Hey Mike. Whats the situation with Nate Burleson's contract? I know it was designed as a poison pill to exact revenge on Minnesota, and it seemed widely understood that it would have to be renegotiated in the future because it was so back loaded. Could this become an issue for the Hawks next year's off season?

Mike Sando: You are right about the nature of Burleson's contract, but the Seahawks reworked it in March 2007. Burleson's cap numbers are right around $4 million for 2008, 2009 and 2010. The 2010 season voids.
J from New York writes: Mike, can you post the Seahawk players that are eligible for the PS?

Mike Sando: A partial list would include players with zero accrued NFL seasons. A sampling includes Jordan Kent, Logan Payne, Michael Bumpus, David Hawthorne, Steve Vallos, Jamar Adams, William Robinson, Joel Filani, Kelin Johnson, Dalton Bell, Kevin Brown, Joe Newton, Pat Murray, Trent Shelton, Nu'u Tafisi, Kyle Williams. The rookie draft choices would also qualify. I'll let you know when I have a definitive list.

Zendba from parts unknown writes: Spreadsheet is an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Absolutely terrific, phenomenal job. Thank You !

Mike Sando: Glad to hear it. Thanks much. It's a passion of mine and always fun when someone else appreciates it.

Jeff from Virginia writes: Mike, Great work. I see too many fans wanting the Seahawks to cut Duckett, I don't think they realize the value of a big short yardage back. I also agree that Forsett is great. If Seattle were to keep Forsett on the practice squad this year, what are the chances that another team will pick him up?
Mike Sando: Thanks. It takes only one team to make the chances 100 percent. I know from watching the Rams that they don't have many "lock" players beyond the top three. But would a team carry Forsett for the entire season? I'm not sure about yet. Forsett isn't going to be a primary runner for anyone at this stage.

Steve from Tacoma writes: Hey Mike, I live in Tacoma and always enjoyed reading your stories in the Tribune. I just wanted to say how cool it is that since you have joined ESPN.com, the Seahawks get much more attention and articles than in previous years. For too long, we were tucked away in our northwest corner, and I just like the bit of exposure our team gets. Thanks, and I enjoy the articles.
Mike Sando: Glad to hear it, Steve. I'm excited about the ramped-up coverage as well.

Matt from Fullerton, Calif., writes: MIKE!!! How can i watch the niners game from orange county??? i dont see it on the direct tv or local television lineup and im very concerned.
Mike Sando: I've got the DVR set to record the Packers-49ers game Sunday at 10 a.m. PT. That is the best I can do.

Ron from Los Angeles writes: With Bobby Engram down and not set to return for 6-8 weeks, do you see the Seahawks signing a veteran WR in the free agent market or can one of the young receivers step up to fill the void?
Mike Sando: Not likely. Signing a veteran player before the opener forces the team to guarantee that player's salary for the full season. Teams sometimes wait until the second week of the season before they sign fringe veterans. At this point, I think Seattle is excited about developing its younger players at the position. I'll let you know if I find out more. The Seahawks have been down the veteran road before (Peter Warrick comes to mind).

Jess from Palm Desert, Calif., writes: I'm a die hard Seahawks fan, grew up in Portland, OR. Since the departure of Hutch on the left side of that line, we have yet to be consistently effective running the ball, and have had to re-invent the shotgun with a team that hasn't run the gun since Flores! Have the strides taken during the off-season been enough to give us hope for a once again balanced offense this year, and should I once again look forward to a potential SuperBowl run? Thanks for your input!-- Jess
Mike Sando: The Seahawks are good enough to scare an NFC team in the playoffs, but I would not book those Super Bowl tickets yet. Mike Wahle is not a left guard in the Steve Hutchinson mold, but he should help the Seahawks run outside. I think John Carlson also helps in that regard. And then if Leonard Weaver truly is a legitimate blocker -- he has made strides -- I do think the ground game improves. The coaching alone is making a big difference. Just keep your fingers crossed on the injury front. All bets are off if Chris Spencer cannot play at center. Steve Vallos has looked good so far but is he ready to play a full season?

Matt from Louisville writes: How horribly is Mike Nolan treating Alex Smith and ruining the 49ers for the years to come? You have a quaterback who is for the most part unproven, but this is what is known about him: in his second year under Norv Turner he played very well down the stretch. In his 3rd year (while healthy) he was 2-1 as a starter, played average statistically which would have been higher had their receivers not had a case of the drops early on. His fourth year now finds him under his fourth coordinator (who by the way really does nothing for his style of play nor complements the rest of the 49ers offensive personnel anyway)and is being forced to fight for his job. I am not there for the practices, but he completely outplayed both quaterbacks in the first preseason game. What does he have to do or has Nolan done too much damage already?
Mike Sando: Mike Nolan is coaching for his job, not for the long-term future of Alex Smith or the 49ers organization. That is the reality, and it's not a great situation in my view.

Chet from Philadelphia writes: This isn't an NFC West question as much as it is a statistical question, and before Hashmarks split into the 'Blog Network' I remember you were the stats and spreadsheet guy (and I love statistics). I was wondering if strength of schedule is really as good an indicator of the upcoming season as most people think. As an example, Chicago was supposed to have the easiest schedule in the division at the beginning of last year. After the year played out, it turned out that they had the hardest schedule in the division. Seattle was the opposite - their schedule turned out easiest in the division, instead of hardest. I'm not quite good enough with Excel to go into depth myself, but I'm curious if there is value at all in using last year's Winning percentage to determin this year's strength of schedule. The stat seems too fluid to me.
Mike Sando: John Clayton has done some outstanding work on strength of schedule. He has determined that strength of schedule can be predictive in most cases, as I recall. We might be talking about one or two games in the won-lost column. Check out this column.

Gehret from Murray, Utah, writes: Why is everyone giving up on Alex Smith? He has had 4 offensive coordinators now and that's hard for any QB. I still believe he has potential, what do you think?
Mike Sando: I think he has potential, too, but I think he's caught in a bad situation. The organization needs to develop Smith, but the head coach needs to win right now.

Vinny from Mount Laurel, N.J., writes: If the 49ers continue to start J.T. O'Sullivan at QB, will they have a legitimate chance to compete this year in the NFC west or is this just another lost year?
Mike Sando: The 49ers are probably a longshot in the NFC West no matter which quarterback they start. It's another lost year if the 49ers finish this season without a promising quarterback.

Joseph from parts unknown writes: Mike, Great to see you are doing well at ESPN. You were always very cordial and responsive to my emails on your blog at the News Tribune. I am sure you have gotten this from many a Shaun Alexander fan, but is there truly no spots for him on any team roster or is he truly pricing himself out of the market and/or doesnt want to play anymore? Regards, Joey Scott
Mike Sando: Teams view Alexander as a starter, not a backup. This actually works against him. Alexander is not a special-teams player. He is not a third-down back. He has less value, in other words, unless he is the starter. For that reason, I see Alexander serving as an injury replacement if and when he returns to the NFL.