Mailbag: Staley and the 49ers' draft

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ursa from Fort Wayne writes: Sando, As much as the 49ers could use a QB in this upcoming draft, are there not much more pressing needs elsewhere? The offense Coach Singletary will use is reportedly going to be very run heavy and blue collar. Would they not be better off looking for some kind of road-grading right tackle? Then there is the issue of a pass rusher that puts the fear into opposing offenses, we could use one of those too.

As for other needs, the secondary hasn't exactly been impressive the past couple of years and they have not had an legit #1 wideout since TO left (as much as it pains me to admit that). What direction might they be most likely to go? What is the most pressing need? Having been burned by the last QB they chose will they not be more likely to look elsewhere? Now granted consecutive OC's have not helped Alex Smith, but seriously...where do you think they will be looking? Thank You! I enjoy your blog and column!!

Mike Sando: I'm with you. The 49ers probably should not draft a quarterback at No. 10 if they can find an immediate starter at another position. That spot in the draft is a little high to target a right tackle, but as I have noted, if they found an elite left tackle at No. 10, they could come out OK.

This is probably a good opportunity for me to clear up confusion over my position on Joe Staley as the 49ers' starting left tackle. Some have asked via the mailbag and Facebook whether I'm suggesting Staley isn't good enough to stay at left tackle. That's not at all what I'm trying to convey.

Staley is fine at left tackle. I would move him only if I could draft a left tackle who was better at that position than Staley will be. If you take a tackle at No. 10, that tackle is probably going to be a left tackle. And if you take a left tackle at No. 10, you're hoping as an organization that he'll be better than the tackle you drafted 28th overall (Staley in 2007). That isn't a slight on Staley, but rather a reflection of what you expect from a player drafted 10th.

The 49ers see Staley as a long-term starter and a very good player, whether he's on the left or right. Will he be a perennial Pro Bowl player? Not so sure. If the 49ers could find a perennial Pro Bowl type and play him at left tackle, they could move Staley to right tackle and have their bookends for years to come.

I do think Staley's aggressive mentality is suited for the right side. The best left tackles tend to be patient. They let the action come to them and deal with it accordingly. Staley likes to mix it up. He almost has a guard's mentality. I like that in him.

Marcus from Seattle writes: Mike, Thanks for the hard work. What do you think about the Seahawks trading back for a premier linebacker in Brian Cushing? It seems he has pass-rushing abilities, maybe not as good as Julian Peterson, but a viable replacement. It just doesn't seem to me like we need a No. 4 pick anymore. Adding a second-round pick and a quality linebacker seems like the best move at this point.

Mike Sando: I don't know how many other teams would want that fourth pick, either, unless Matthew Stafford were available and another team were sold on him. Your comment about "not needing" the No. 4 pick says more about how we perceive this draft than how we perceive Seattle's needs, I think. Curry might make sense for Seattle if he's there at No. 4.

Matt from Christiansburg, Va., writes: If the Seahawks were to take a QB with the 4th overall pick who do you think they like better Sanchez or Stafford? Also, would the Hawks be interested any in Shaun McDonald?

Mike Sando: I think it would be Stafford based on how much each quarterback played in college. I know of no interest in McDonald and wouldn't expect Seattle to alter its roster much before the draft.

Jarrod from Sacramento writes: Jim Thomas from the St Louis Post Dispatch said "Spagnuolo confirmed that Will Witherspoon will open next week's minicamp at outside linebacker with Chris Draft at middle linebacker."

If the Lions don't take Curry, I really hope the Rams do and plug him in at middle linebacker. Curry is the best player in the draft so the Rams should take him over Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe because they have no size or sure tacklers in the middle of their defense and teams can easily run on them. They can use Alex Barron at Left Tackle (he has the size to be a good LT and only gave up 3 and a half sacks in 2007 when Pace was hurt all year) and then draft a right tackle in the second round. What are your thoughts?

Also, if any Rams fans have thoughts on who the Rams should take let me know because as the Rams superfan for Jeremy Green's show Football today I will be making the choice for the Rams in their superfan mock draft.

Mike Sando: I was sitting with Spagnuolo at the NFC coaches' breakfast in Dana Point, Calif., when he gave that answer about Chris Draft starting in the middle. Draft is 33 years old. He is one of only five Rams players in their 30s at this point (after the recent roster purge). Seems to me the Rams will look to get younger at that position through the draft, but not necessarily with the second overall choice.

The question becomes, do you take a middle linebacker second overall? Not usually. I think they'll take an offensive tackle.

Dave from Ukiah, Calif., writes: Mike, Please tell me there is still a chance that my beloved 49ers will grab Andre Smith if he is there at #10! All of the Mark Sanchez talk is just that … talk. We need an animal to play tackle and Smith is a beast. Coach Sing is just the guy to pull Andre out of the funk he has put himself into and let his talent come out on the field. He could move to the left side in a year or so and let Staley move back to the right. That is a pretty dominant set of tackles for years to come ... don't you think?

Mike Sando: I do think the 49ers would take one of the top three or four offensive tackles if they were available with the 10th overall choice. The red flags sprouting up around Smith might be enough to convince me to head in another direction, but I'm not the 49ers. They might agree with you in thinking that Singletary could handle such a player.

Nick from Waco writes: Mike, got hooked on your blog during the Hawks Super Bowl run, and am enjoying it here at ESPN as well. A few weeks ago I mentioned in a comment to one of your posts, the similarities between Jason Smith and big Walt, as well as a hope that he would fall to Seattle at #4. Have you checked out the article by Mosely in which an NFC GM used similar language? Any chance you see that he falls to Seattle at #4, and that Ruskell takes him?

Mike Sando: So much of the pre-draft talk is smoke, but I distinctly remember Seahawks general manager
Tim Ruskell saying there definitely was not another Walter Jones in this draft. I think he said it at the combine. That was less a knock on Smith or Eugene Monroe than it seemed to be acknowledgement of Jones' excellence. Remember, Jones ran the 40 in 4.7 seconds. That is faster than some of the tight ends.

The moves Seattle made in free agency make me think the team would be more likely to consider a tackle at No. 4, something I didn't see as likely several weeks back. I think Seattle has adequate depth at tackle, but not great depth. I say that because I wouldn't take for granted a complete and lasting recovery for Jones given his age.

John from Tempe writes: Once the new safety rules were announced, ESPN kept showing Ryan Clark's hit on Wes Welker as an example of what would be penalized this upcoming season. Maybe I'm just seeing it wrong, but the hit Clark put on Welker was shoulder to chest, not shoulder to helmet. Do you think that hit was a good example of what fans should expect to see as illegal next year?

Mike Sando: Can you find a link to the video? I did some quick searching and did not find it.

Mike from Richmond, Va., writes: Hey Mike, great job dealing with what is probably 4,591 emails about the coddling of east coast teams. My question is whether or not the owners of the west coast teams can appeal the decision and perhaps get a 3rd party arbitrator? Or is Goodell considered the arbitrator?

Mike Sando: Goodell would be the arbitrator. It's like when a player appeals a fine levied by Goodell. Who rules on the appeal? Goodell! He is also the one who makes the schedule. That means he directly controls the number of 10 a.m. PT kickoffs for West Coast teams. I think Jed York said it best when he said the West Coast teams needed to band together on this issue. That means presenting strong evidence in making the case.

Dave from Ukiah writes: Mike, My 49ers have done some good things so far this offseason and I think they will add some good talent and depth in the draft. But am I alone in worrying about the receiver situation? I love Josh Morgan and Jason Hill but both are still young and need a veteran to help understand what they still need to take then to that next level. I hear the newbie from the Titens, Brandon Jones, is good but unproven, so that will have to work itself out in preseason. With Isaac Bruce looking more and more like he is done, would they be willing to bring in Marvin Harrison for say, two years to take over when Bruce left off in developing there two talented young wideouts?

Mike Sando: I don't know how much Harrison has left and I doubt he would want to go from Peyton Manning to The Great Unknown in terms of his quarterback. Seems to me the 49ers need to develop their own receivers. Perhaps they'll find one in the draft.

Tyler from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike, so with all the Tony Gonzalez trade talks going around, is there any likelihood the cardinals can pick him up and maybe a draft pick for say... anquan boldin? It seems that Todd Haley would love to have a reciever like anquan boldin on his squad and the cards need a tight end. This would still ensure that they can get what they need (rb,d lineman) in the draft as well as sure up the offense and have the ability to throw over the middle without boldin. What do you think?

Mike Sando: Will Tony Gonzalez play long enough to make that type of deal work for Arizona? I am not convinced. If he could, then such a deal might make some sense. However, the Chiefs do not have a second-round choice. They own the third, 67th, 102nd, 139th, 175th, 212th and 256th choices. Which one would you want if you were Arizona?

Ryan from Missouri writes: Question for Spagnuolo. I'd like to know more about Barron at LT. Is his run blocking ability part of the consideration for the move? Do they think his run blocking ability is solid? Can the offensive plan work with him at LT?

Mike Sando: I just am not sold that the Rams are serious about making that move for the full season. I'll go through my notes to see if Spagnuolo addressed that in greater detail during the NFC coaches' breakfast. I was bouncing around the NFC West coaches' tables.

Will from parts unknown writes: What do you think about taking pat white in say the 4th round as a project QB and let him sit and learn behind Matt Hasselbeck for a couple years and see what happens? I saw a video of him on youtube and i really liked what i saw, and i really believe he may have some potential as project QB. I mean after all nobody every expected Hasselbeck to do as great as he did.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks already have a shorter, faster backup quarterback. Do they need another?

Robert from parts unknown writes: Mike, wouldn't you think that the Arizona Cardinals would have interest in Larry Johnson, a veteran RB? Then maybe draft a RB in the lower rounds.

Mike Sando: I'm not sure how much sense it makes to replace one 30-year-old running back (Edgerrin James) with another soon-to-be 30-year-old running back (Johnson). James has more yards rushing than Johnson over the last two seasons. Plus, Johnson carries some baggage. The Cardinals should probably steer clear of that one.

Jacob from St. Louis writes: How many wins do you think the Rams are going to win the division by in 2009?
Mike Sando: Negative-two? Negative-three? Hey, that would count as progress.

Rob from parts unknown writes: hey mike. love the blog. i was just wondering what you thought of chris wells playing for the cards next season. i know he's not the breakaway back we've always wanted and it's unlikely he'll fall to us but having looked at some videos, it seems as though he is the most talented back in the draft and would be a perfect fit in arizona. do you think they might get a shot at him and if so should they pull the trigger? thanks
Mike Sando: Agreed that it's unlikely Wells would fall to the Cardinals. Agreed that he would fit Arizona, as would just about any highly regarded back.