Mailbag: Suspecting Johnson for leak unfair

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

PiersMorgan494 from the Bay Area writes: Hey Mike. Just talked to Damon Bruce on KNBR and he was suggesting Bill Cowher as 49ers HC in 09. What coach should the 49ers get and what are the chances that coach will be a great coach? I'm tired of getting my hopes up each year and they go down the drain by week 8. Also, will Goodell take any action of what Singletary did, and how come the Arizona radio had access to it? It was SF/Sea, what business did Ari radio have in SF?

Mike Sando: It's an upset if the 49ers are able to land Bill Cowher or another coach on that level, based simply on the state of the organization. Any move along those lines would probably require handing over everything short of an ownership stake to get the deal done. We would be talking lots and lots of money, too.

The commissioner would have nothing to say against Singletary's tactics. As for how the story got out, I think it could have gone through any number of channels. Singling out Bryant Johnson because he played for the Cardinals represents amateur sleuthing without regard for fairness.

That information could have gone from any 49ers player to any Cardinals player to a reporter covering the Cardinals in no time. And that doesn't even take into account gossip between coaches across staffs. Three current 49ers assistants worked for the Cardinals in recent seasons. Two more worked at the University of Arizona. One worked at Arizona State. One even worked with Mike Martz in Detroit last season.

Singling out any one person without evidence is unfair.

Doug from Groton, Conn., writes: Hi Mike, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your reports, being one of the 10 Seahawk fans in CT and probably the only one admitting it. I had a question about their seeming never ending injuries, is it a conditioning problem, older players or is their new practice field made of concrete? It just seems to get worse every week? Thanks Doug

Mike Sando: Thanks, Doug. I've got relatives in Connecticut but they aren't NFL fans, so you're on your own back there. The Seahawks' run of back injuries during camp struck me as something that could have been related to something the team might have been doing from a conditioning standpoint. It's really guesswork, but if one body part seems to be more vulnerable, there's a chance something along those lines could be at work.

Scott from Bremerton, Wash., writes: Sandman, everywhere I have seen you write this year, you have mentioned you see the Hawks picking D line and O line early in the draft. While I agree with the O line, I don't see why we would draft D line so high. Projecting into next year, our starters (assuming Rocky Bernard leaves) will be DE Tapp, DT Mebane, DT Bryant, DE Kerney.
With that as our starting lineup, and with the Hawks window "closing" (Hasselbeck, Jones), wouldn't you assume we would draft for our biggest deficiencies (I'm thinking S, OL, CB) before we draft to "deepen" a position? Thanks, and what's up with the lack of coverage on Sundays after game time on the blogs?

Mike Sando: I'm not convinced Patrick Kerney can hold up and I'm not sure the Seahawks can bank on Tapp being an effective every-down player. Look at the Giants. They've been able to remain dominant up front after subtracting Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

As for the postgame coverage, we focus on reacting quickly to outcomes and then filing an in-depth report from the game we're covering. I simply haven't been focusing on the Seahawks much immediately following games because I haven't seen them in person for several weeks. That changes today.

Maddog from parts unknown writes: Can you tell me how many teams have gone without a penalty in a regular season game in the NFL?
Mike Sando: Fourteen teams since 2001.

Anthony from parts unknown writes: Mike Singletary sounds like the perfect fit for the head coaching job across the Bay in Oakland. His antics are a perfect fit with the dysfunctional Al Davis; sounds to me like a marriage made for today's media.
Mike Sando: I'm expecting Singletary to level out a bit here as the games progress. He made his point(s) in the first game but he must realize that won't work every week.

Kevin from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, If it turns out that Kerney will miss significant time, what are the chances of the Seahawks picking up KGB, who was just cut by the Packers? Or do they feel that Darryl Tapp can provide enough of a pass-rushing presence(0 sacks in 7 games so far...)? Thanks, Kevin
Mike Sando: That arrangement would make sense on the surface. I'll have a better feel after heading out to Qwest Field and speaking with people today.

Brad from Cleveland writes: if you want to find out how players in the ninners locker room are reacting to singletary then you should just ask PATRICK WILLIS he already said singletary helped him in two practices at the college all start game N v S. then was coached by him last year and i think you know what happened. So since willis is going to be the leader of the future for this team i think his endorsment of singletary will be more then enough. That was the best thing to happen to davis who beats his chest after every catch. all 16 of them wow.
Mike Sando: Singletary took an important stand against Davis' antics. That was something I hit on right away after the Seahawks-49ers game. What Willis said about how Singletary helped him two years ago probably doesn't apply as much to what Willis or any player might think about Singletary as a head coach. That's another time and another capacity.

David from San Francisco writes: Hi Mike, I have enjoyed your blog and though I don't agree with you completely on your Singletary comments, just wanted to say I respect the fact that you published and responded to (rationally) the negative feedback you have received. It's refreshing to see a reporter question (some would say bash) a coach's actions from a distance, yet take responsibility for his written word. Keep up the good work. Go Niners.
Mike Sando: Hey, thanks. Responding is the least I can do when someone takes the time to express heartfelt feelings.

BK from St. Paul, Minn., writes: A lot of people really like the job you're doing with the NFC West blogs. You're a reliable source of information a great number of us appreciate. Keep it up.
Mike Sando: Thanks much, BK. This is fun stuff.

Maynard from Dallas writes: grow up kid or go back to seattle. you have no idea of the strength of mind this man posseses. l'm sure you never saw him play other than on film.
Mike Sando: I'm guessing you are referring to Mike Singletary. You're not the only one who thinks I should grow up. I've resisted so far because I'm afraid growing up would mean taking a real job.

Philip in Renton, Wash., writes: Mike, I am glad that you are one of the few media people who offered a different perspective on Singletary. Often times, the "herd" mentality turns out to be the most erroneous. I thought it was too over
the top, almost high-schoolish. It's corny. It works for high school kids, but not professional football players as many of them have expressed this belief on record (Hugh Millen is one, not specifically about Singletary). The motivating factors are playing time and dollar bills. The circus-like act cannot be sustainable week-in and week-out. Keep up the good work. Stay true to your journalistic work!
Mike Sando: Thanks, Philip. I thought it was fair to point out the risks associated with that approach. That was just an attempt to inject some realism. At the same time, I never came out and said players should turn Singletary into a punch line. That distinction is important. I was making an observation, not calling out Singletary.

James from Seattle writes: That last mailbag was horrible, did you intentionally chose the most irritating and irrational Singletary defenders or was that just the majority of the e-mails?
Mike Sando: I felt it was important to give voice to the strongest dissenters. What they said was generally consistent with a fair number of mailbag submissions following Singletary's first game as interim head coach.

Jason from San Jose writes: Hey Mike, this is just a comment, no question here. I just wanted to say I really like the work you put in on the NFC West and that I really like Singletary and am curious to see what the ramifications of his actions so far are going to have on the team.
I'm not sure if he's going to become a joke or if the whole series of events is going to go over well but the main thing I wanted to do is say sorry on behalf of Niner fans for giving you total hell for voicing your opinion on the situation. I mean it's not like you said things that were totally bias or made a judgment too quickly on him as a coach but more or less just questioned whether that was a good idea.

Also, I wanted to add that I agree with you that the whole great player = great coach is complete crap. I hope he turns out to be a good coach, but really, I think it's so ridiculous when fans try to use that as a rationalization for why you're wrong and as proof that he's going to be amazing. This also makes me wonder if the same people who use that argument assume that crappy players will make terrible coaches because there are a TON of coaches/managers in all sports who could barely stay in the sport as an active player for more than a couple seasons but went onto become good coaches/managers because they understand the game, just couldn't execute physically what they knew mentally.

Anyway, just wanted to say hope you haven't been getting too much crap and hope that people dishing it doesn't discourage you. I mean, if they were all really as all knowing of all things football and worthy of the entitlement they all seem to possess in their pissed off responses you'd think that they'd be the passionate ones on the field that you'd be writing about instead of the ones having to read a blog about the players they're so passionately defending. Ridiculous (them, not you). Have a nice weekend/day!

Mike Sando: Thanks, Jason. I don't take the criticism personally. I think it's a great story if the 49ers rally under Singletary. I merely pointed out the risks associated with his approach. I have nothing invested in whether his tactics produce the desired results. Like you, I'm curious to see.

Anonymous from Boston writes: Like Mike Singletary, many of the bloggers are living in the past. He was a great linebacker, went to pro bowls, won a Super Bowl, etc. but he is now a HEAD COACH in the NFL. He must act like one by being focused and in control not a crazy middle linebacker in head coaches clothes. I hope all the Mike Singletary fans are enjoying these few games because it is the last time they will see him as head coach. He is joke!!
Mike Sando: Time will tell. If the 49ers win, Singletary wins. I never called him a joke, nor would I. Some players might, and that was the point.

Rudy from Chicago writes: Hey MS, big fan of the blog! Knowing what I know about your obsession with stats, I was curious as to whether or not you kept track of the directional yardage gained by the various RBs around the division? I'd like to see which guys on which teams are opening lanes. It seems like this kind of data may give us some insight into the scheming, or preferences of the RBs, or may be a testament as to the kind of talent (and on which side) teams have on their offensive lines?
Granted, some of it may be dictated by the pressures/schemes/defensive talent opponents are showing week in and week out, but still, there's gotta be something to it. Like I heard Steven Jackson has like 80 more yards or something running to the right.

Does this showcase at all that Incognito and Barron are better run blockers than Pace (who's outstanding when healthy at protecting his QBs blindside)? Or is that just because Pace/the left side is more likely to see the better rushers from an opponent? In particular I'd like to know how my boy Gore is doing considering Staley's in his first pro season as a left tackle, and we're so unstable at RT, and we're rotating guards every 3 weeks it seems.

Mike Sando: That information is available, but it doesn't take into account cutback running or other complexities. As a result, I don't like those stats very much. I remember the Seahawks having good rushing stats to the right side when Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones were on the left side. It didn't seem to meet the eye test.

Daniel from Longview, Wash., writes: With Lofa Tatupu fending off injuries, do you think this could be Leroy Hill's breakout year? It seems he's already on his way to a career year, nearly reaching his total tackles and solo tackles while having only played half the season. Could he be considered as a Pro Bowl candidate? If the Seahawks don't start winning, he'll be overlooked.
Mike Sando: Hill already leads the team in tackles. I'm curious if the Seahawks will use him more as a pass rusher now that Patrick Kerney is hurting. That seems to be an area where Hill could take the next step.

Adam from Sacramento writes: I'm addicted to this damn blog even though it gives me nothing but bad news about my 49ers. My girlfriend even knows your name now. Anyhow, there is a lot of speculation about Holmgren being the next head coach. Although that does seem like a long shot. Who are some of the possible candidates for the head coach spot next year besides Holmgren or Singletary?
Mike Sando: I'm having a hard time predicting the 49ers' approach given all the factors in play. You've got Jed York asserting more control, perhaps, and you have Scot McCloughan as general manager. Every time I think I've got something figured out, this organization surprises me. From hiring Mike Martz to benching Alex Smith to starting J.T. O'Sullivan to promoting Mike Singletary.