Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The mailbag is gaining momentum these days. I've gone through some of the recent entries. Here we go ...
Adam from Seattle writes: Hi Mike, I read that you think the "Hawks" are deeper talent wise then you have ever seen them. How do they compare with the talent depth of the stronger teams in the NFL (such as NE and Indy)? Thanks for the great coverage of all things NFC West (and especially the Seahawks).
Mike Sando: The Colts and Patriots are better than the Seahawks because of Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Peyton Manning, not so much because of depth. Seattle has better overall depth than the Colts. The Colts are a star-driven team, at the expense of depth. Seattle is deeper than the Patriots in the secondary and along the defensive line (the latter being partially a function of numbers, given differences in scheme). Overall, I think Seattle's depth holds up well against the top teams. But the top teams have bigger stars.
Chris from Denver writes: The soap opera star (Boldin) is now running his mouth. Mike, what are the options for the Cards now? Can you list possible trade partners and what the Cards would get for him. Why would they not want Lito Sheppard? He would upgrade their secondary.
Mike Sando: The Cardinals want Boldin on their team, and Boldin is under contract to them for three seasons at a reasonable rate. I see the Cardinals trading Boldin only if this situation becomes unbearable. It's closer to unbearable now than it was a while back, but not necessarily to a breaking point yet.
I would be speculating if I listed trade partners and what Boldin might return in a trade. It might make for fun reading, but the nutritional value wouldn't be there.
One option for the Cardinals would be for General Manager Rod Graves to step between Boldin and coach Ken Whisenhunt, making it clear that this is an issue between player and organization, not player and head coach.
Glenn from California writes: Sando, great job man. What are the ramifications for the 49ers after this season? It seems as if Martz is a one and done type so far and how will that affect the rest of the young players who are developing? It sucks how every position seems to be developing (WR has made huge strides compared to last season) and then there is a set back because of coaching changes. What are the long-term problems coming after this season?
Mike Sando: Thanks, Glenn. Staff continuity is important for the development of players. It's a setback if these young players -- Josh Morgan, Jason Hill and others -- have to learn a new offense next season.
Timmy from St. Louis writes: What are the chances of the Rams making a move for Boldin. They're in desparate need of a back up receiver for Holt so who better than Boldin?
Mike Sando: Again, I don't expect the Cardinals to trade Boldin within the division, no matter how much the Rams could use him.
Nick from Vancouver, Wash., writes: Hey Mike, first I wanted to say thanks for answering all of my questions so far, I enjoy what you've been doing and I enjoy the opportunity for interaction. My question this time concerns the Seahawks' center situation. It seems like Chris Spencer might not be at full strength in time for the opener, so wouldn't it make more sense to start Steve Vallos, since he's been doing pretty well? I know he doesn't have hardly any experience as a center, but he's had all the first-team reps and seems it just seems like the line would jell better if Spencer were integrated slowly back into the starting lineup. Also, do you think that this season is important for Spencer? Could this season determine whether or not Seattle moves in another direction? Thanks, and keep up the good info!
Mike Sando: The more Vallos plays, the more he shows the team could probably function with him in the lineup. Spencer badly needed practice reps this offseason. Throwing him into the lineup without sufficient practice time might put him in a difficult position. Longer term, Spencer is under contract at a reasonable rate through the 2009 season.
Mike B. from Los Angeles writes: Sandoman, Charlie Frye is really looking bad in Seahawks camp and according to reports he's still not comfortable or making good decisions quickly enough. Is there any chance the Seahawks just cut their losses and trade for John Beck or some other young signal caller as they did last year for Frye? They have to start thinking about life after Hasselbeck sooner or later anyway, and Mora may want to have a young guy he can bring along his way.
Mike Sando: I haven't sensed that level of frustration with Frye, but I'll have a better idea after getting back to Seahawks camp at some point this week. Frye is the third quarterback, so the Seahawks are not expecting him to perform as a starter would.
Kevin from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, thanks for all the great updates and inside information on our division. I'm a huge Seahawks fan and was wondering what the chances might be of the Hawks trying to aquire disgruntled WR Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals? He officially said he wanted to be traded and the Seahawks could use a proven guy in his prime, especially with Branch and Engram out. I know it's probably far-fetched, but I was just curious if it has come up. thanks! Kevin
Mike Sando: The Cardinals would not trade Boldin within the division. I'm confident in that.
Brad from New Castle, Pa., writes: hey i just thought of something, if the dreaded thing happens and the Rams and Steven Jackson don't come to some sort of deal before the regular season, would it possible to see Al Saunders run sort of a dual running back system? i know people dont always like it, but leonard is more of a FB then a running back, which is most of the reason he didnt really excel last year as the starting rb in place of jackson for those few games, and pittman is in no way an every-down type of player. in a 2 rb system they could be used to their strengths properly. In no way shape or form will it better then if jackson were the premier back, this is just complete theory, but would there be any possibilty of that if (knock on wood) jackson and the rams don't come to terms on a deal?
Mike Sando: Running back by committee would seem likely if Jackson were to continue his
holdout into the season.
Joe from Tacoma, Wash., writes: Mike, Great stuff this year as always. Of all the offseason aquisitions the Seahawks made this year I believe the most important has been Mike Solari. Being Mike holmgren's last season, do you believe that Jim Mora will keep some coaches like Solari in Seattle? Marshall? Board? Haskell?
Mike Sando: Solari would definitely stay. It's tougher to say for the guys Holmgren brought in previously. It's well known in the league that Raiders assistants Greg Knapp and Tom Rathman could be headed to Seattle for prominent roles on the offensive staff in 2009. Mora has worked previously with the current defensive assistants, but a new head coach often brings in new staff members.
Ricky from Indianapolis writes: Mike thanks for the wonderful information, it has been very helpful here in Indy as a distant Niners fan (believe me, there once was a time living in this city my team was better, but I have stayed true to my 49ers!) Question: I have been impressed by at least one facet of the 49ers team, the defense. They seem to be playing with a fire in both preseason games, flying to the ball, and if nothing else, creating opportunities for turnovers and game-altering plays. Any chance you see the defense taking that next step and giving the offense a shorter field (which they desperately need) and creating game situations where the 49ers can pull out games they "aren't supposed" to win?
Mike Sando: The 49ers' defense carried more than its share of the load last season. Yes, the defense should be improved with Justin Smith and a healthy Manny Lawson. But the way I see it, this team can improve significantly if the offense becomes even average. The defense was on the field too long last season.
Ken from Bellevue, Wash., writes: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, "On the first unit's short-lived try, running back T.J. Duckett picked up 4 yards on first down, but cornerback Marcus Trufant then fought off a block by fullback Leonard Weaver in getting to Duckett for a 6-yard loss. On third down, it was free safety Brian Russell who got to Duckett before he could really get started." This is really how I see Duckett, he is slow to get going it seems, intial report I heard on him was that he had deceptive speed for a big guy but I'm just not seeing it. It would have been interesting to see how Forsett fared in that same 4 min drill situation. I say throw the kid in there and see if he can pick up that 1st down. You saw the end of Bears game, just prior to the game winning FG they gave the ball to Duckett every down and he was stuffed every down too. It doesnt matter since Coutu kicked the game winner but it wasnt a big vote of confidence for the supposed short yardage specialist claim (not to mention 2 fumbles in the prior preseason game).
Mike Sando: I wouldn't necessarily view Duckett and Forsett at the exclusion of one another. If you asked me which player I would rather see in a real game, Forsett would get the call. We know what Duckett can do. We've seen him play for several seasons. Forsett represents untapped potential. He may or may not develop into a good NFL player, but he looks good so far.
Toby from Granada Hills, Calif., writes: Nolan seems pretty curt with you media guys these days. Has he always been that way or do you think he's feeling the pressure to keep his job? And how many games do you think he has to win to keep it? I'm certainly not looking forward to another rebuilding, but I also don't think Nolan is the guy to bring the Niners back to the glory days level.
Mike Sando: Nolan has always come off as somewhat defensive in interview situations, but my experience with him was sporadic before this season. Reaching .500 would be a step forward for this team, and perhaps enough for Nolan to keep his job. I wouldn't put a hard number on it, though, because other factors are at play here. If the offense is exciting and productive, creating hope for the future, that would seem to be important.