Mailbag: Support for Edgerrin James

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mitch from parts unknown writes: First off Mike I like the blog. I always look forward to reading it. My problem is way the Cards are handling my boy Edge. He can still play. Just because he isn't popping off 50+ yd runs doesn't mean he cant play anymore. He is a grinder that can move the chains. These fantasy geeks don't appreciate the 3 and 4 yd runs to make it 2nd and 6 instead of 2nd 10 or 9. Whisenhunt needs to quit letting Warner chuck it every down like he's still playing Arena ball.
Your stock rising list should include Edge. Even the commentators are jumping off the Hightower wagon and wondering why Edge isn't in the game. Arizona needs to commit to the run more with Edge and have the threat of play-action with their weapons at WR. Edge proved he can still do it against New England this past week but the "Whiz" has a personal issue with him for whatever reason.

There's a reason Whiz and Russ Grimm didnt get the Steelers job. If they wanted to run the ball so badly then they would have made the commitment to do it. The O-line needs work but Edge can still find creases to move the chains. Keep up the good work and give Edge some respect.

Mike Sando: I suspect the Cardinals' commitment to Warner has led them down this road. The team has played to its strengths offensively, which has meant playing to Warner's strengths, which has meant throwing the ball frequently. That worked well for a long time, but the tougher schedule has caught up to Arizona, and now there's not a running game when the Cardinals suddenly need one.

Arizona spends significant time in the shotgun, which helps Warner see the field while reducing the pounding his fragile hands take from direct snaps (delivered more firmly than we might realize watching from afar). Teams do run from the shotgun, but I think the shotgun facilitates the passing game in this case.

Edgerrin James wasn't going to bust long runs, as you noted, but neither would he necessarily fit into the offense as the Cardinals are running it. It's too late at this point for the Cardinals to reinvent themselves as a run-oriented team with James as the featured back.

I'm a little surprised the Cardinals have adopted the passing game to this degree. Watching their opener, I expected them to be more balanced this season.

James from Lincoln, U.K., writes: Seasons Greetings, Mr Sando. Assuming Mike Singletary is appointed Head Coach for real after the season (the right move in my opinion) can the 49ers do enough to become contenders for this awful division? Is there enough talent for this to happen? I understand that this is a flawed roster, so what do they have to do to become a contender to make the playoffs? Has your opinion of the roster changed over the last six weeks?

Mike Sando: Every team wakes up a contender in this division next season. Even the Rams have a chance to compete if they make the right changes this offseason.

The 49ers need to follow through on plans to solidify the offensive line. They need to continue matching their personnel to their approach, a strength under Singletary so far. And they need to make the right choice at offensive coordinator. That last one is huge. We'll expand on it later in this mailbag.

Tyler from New York writes: Hey Sando, the Niners have been playing pretty decently the last few games and they're doing what they have done for several seasons: start off terribly and end on a high note. This excites fans for the next season but there is always disappointment. What do the Niners need to start next season off with success?

Mike Sando: Upgrade at right tackle, get more athletic at safety, improve the pass rush, figure out their identity, commit to that identity and get a few breaks. That last part is important. As much as the 49ers have invited criticism in recent seasons, they've had some bad luck, too. Losing Mike McCarthy and Norv Turner unexpectedly affected this franchise a great deal.

Farley from Seattle writes: Sando, Love the blog.. miss ya at TNT. I read there is a possibility that Torry Holt will be leaving the Rams after the season. How likely do you see this? Do you think the Seahawks would give him a shot?
Mike Sando: Thanks much. The Rams could indeed release Torry Holt based on Holt's age and salary. The Seahawks probably need to get younger at the position.

Eduardo from Everett, Wash., writes: good morning Mike. Well it seems our hawks season comes to an end next Sunday. Anyways two questions for you. 1) Do you think BIG mike is coming back to the hawks organization and what position will he be filling out as? 2) Do the hawks have a plan of attack during the NFL Draft and who are they might be targeting? thank you mike and you have a wonderful Christmas. GO HAWKS! eduardo
Mike Sando: Thanks, Eduardo. I do not see Mike Holmgren returning to the Seahawks anytime soon, if at all. I see him sitting out the 2009 season and then probably catching on with another franchise beginning in 2010.

The 49ers, Chargers and Cowboys appear likely to bring back their current coaches for the 2009 season. Teams sometimes don't want to make moves without having clearly superior candidates available. Holmgren is one of those candidates people view that way. If he re-emerges in 2010, teams with underachieving coaches will be paying attention.

Drew in Fife, Wash., writes: Sando- About your Warner article, yes we should have seen this coming. It's not demise, it's age. He's thrown the ball 568 times this year and been sacked 25 times. That's a lot on an old man. I do still think he has game and a better option than Leinert. The two issues for the Cards is the lack of a running game (last in the league) and their lack of a defense.(29th). I think their best bet is to improve the running game and hope that will buy them a year or two more with Warner. Then try to outscore teams while they use that time to put some kind of defense together. Basically, if they didn't get six games against the NFC West they would not be in the playoffs and it's a joke they get a home game.
Mike Sando: The Cardinals aren't the only NFC West team to laugh at that joke, if you will. Seattle beat up on a bad NFC West division to secure home-field advantage for playoff games in past seasons. I wouldn't necessarily hold that against either team.

The part about Warner attempting 568 passes strikes me as credible. The sack number is relatively low, but Warner gets hit far more frequently than he gets sacked. He takes far more punishment than the sack total indicates, and I do think that has caught up to him physically this season.

Connor from Florida writes: I'm a 49ers fan and I'm really excited about the way Singletary has this team playing. I want to buy into how the team has turned it around but this feels very similar to the last couple years where the 49ers have finished strong, but have been disappointing the next year. Do you believe there is genuine improvement and if so what kind of impact will they make next year?
Mike Sando: You should feel better about the team, but the caution is warranted. The 49ers are 4-4 under Singletary. That includes two victories over t
he Rams and two victories over teams with markedly diminished fortunes (Bills, Jets). You can't fault a team for beating bad teams, but you can temper the enthusiasm. The 49ers could be entering 2009 with another new offensive coordinator and another unproven quarterback (Shaun Hill has been good so far, but he hasn't even started 10 NFL games, so the jury has not returned a verdict).

Jason from parts unknown writes: Mike i had a crazy idea i would like to get your opinion on. I think Matt Hasselbeck is a great QB, but i know first-hand what it is like to deal with a back injury and I am not sure if Matt can return to full strength. That being said, Seneca has done a great job but I don't see him being a starter. Here's my idea -- trade Seneca and something else to New England for Matt Cassel who could be Hasselbeck's replacement maybe not so later down the road. Just an idea i fully expect Matt to get first shot at a comeback next year but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead. Thanks.
Mike Sando: I think Wallace would be less valuable in New England, while Cassel would be less valuable in Seattle. Those players are more valuable to their own franchises because they know their offensive systems. Also, Cassel is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. He might have a chance to find a starting job for starting money somewhere. He wouldn't get either coming to Seattle as Matt Hasselbeck's short-term backup and long-term replacement.

Noah from Tucson writes: Remember early last year when leinart and warner shared games? That seemed to throw teams off balance trying to prepare for both quarterbacks. i know it is a bit gimicky but the cardinals need to do something different if they are going to compete in the playoffs.
Mike Sando: Now there's a thought. I'm not sure Matt Leinart would do anything better than Kurt Warner at this point. It would shake up things, however.

Mr Zero from Alameda, Calif., writes: Sando, going with the thought that the 49ers hire Singletary as the Head Coach and don't bring anyone else in like Holmgren, what's more likely? Martz and Manusky stay or go? If they go any thoughts of potential replacements? Maybe some Head Coaches that might be unemployed next year? Jauron, Lewis, Phillips, Turner, Edwards? Or do you know of any up and coming guys out there that might fill the coordinator positions?
Mike Sando: Martz's departure would be more likely. Reading between the lines, Singletary seems ready to make that break if and when he becomes head coach in full. Continuity is important, but Singletary obviously wants to run the offense another way.

When you hire a defensive head coach, the offensive coordinator becomes the next most important hire. I do think it's important for that person to be a strong personality and sharp coach who commands immediate respect.

Matt Maiocco threw out a few lesser-known names as possibilities: Mike McCoy (Panthers), Craig Johnson (Titans) and Pete Carmichael Jr. (Saints). Whichever candidate the 49ers hire, they need to be right on this one.

Gary from Seaford, N.Y., writes: Do you think the cards rest warner this week?
Mike Sando: Perhaps at some point in the second half. Not for the entire game, though.