Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Thursday at noon p.m. ET!
How long do you think it will take Aaron Curry to make a deal with the 'Hawks and finally show up at camp?
Mike Sando (12:00 PM)
I'm seeing no signs of movement with these first-round choices. The Rams gave a pretty good deal to Jason Smith in an effort to get him into camp. The Raiders paid a premium for Darrius Heyward-Bey. It's a little bit of a mess at the top of the round, the sort of thing that can be hard to predict.
Robert (San Bernardino, CA)
Did you come away from 49ers camp thinking they'd be better or worse than you had expected?
Mike Sando (12:02 PM)
Two things I wanted to see: the quarterbacks and how the team was responding to Mike Singletary. I didn't see a great deal from the QBs until Wednesday, when Smith stepped up. The situation with Singletary seemed very positive for the 49ers.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Hi Mike. Any worries among players in either the Rams or 9ers camp about undue injury risks due to the extra physical camps?
Mike Sando (12:03 PM)
That is always a concern with players. Veterans in particular raise concerns about such things. I think Takeo Spikes has made that clear during interviews over the last week.
Hyman (Rochester, NY)
Hi Mike,Love your work and have been trying to get you to answer this hypothetical question all summer!! Pat Kerney, Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones all start 16 games this coming season for Seattle, their record will be..........
Mike Sando (12:03 PM)
Do you see a clearer picture forming yet with the quarterback situation in San Fran?
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
I saw signs of life from Alex Smith and found it telling when Mike Singletary mentioned specific thinks he thought Smith was doing well. This head coach would not say those things just to say those things. I think Smith has improved his chances so far.
Crabtree's fault or agents that he isn't in camp? The Niners WRs look alot different than previous seasons
Mike Sando (12:07 PM)
Impossible to know. We cannot know for sure what is happening without the agent, player and team officials laying out their offers and counter offers publicly. The player relies upon the agent for information about what the team is saying. That can complicate things, too.
How many good years do you think Matt Hasselbeck has left? Or do you think those are behind him...
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
Let's see him make it through one more season before guessing on the longer term. The nature of back injuries is such that everything can be fine until everything goes wrong out of the blue.
Steve (Jersey Shore, NJ)
Sando, First and foremost, great job w/ the blog. Die-hard Niners fan here. Everyone says how Smith is closing in on Hill in the QB race but first off, I hear that Hill is having every bit as good of a camp. Secondly, Smith has always been a pretty good practice player. He lacks in his decisiveness, accuracy and prompt delivery of the football during games. Do you really feel he's improved on those flaws?
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
Thanks. I feel as though Smith is certainly better in those areas if for no other reason than his improved physical outlook. It's tough to take command when you're not close to 100 percent. He appears close to 100 percent right now. The exhibition games will be telling and possibly decisive in determining the starter. I do think Smith has a good chance at the job.
Ryan (Wilmington, NC)
Hey Mike! BIG Seahawks fan and a fan of your work! I can't find much information on how WR Butler is doing in camp. Are they using his speed to make him a deep threat and how much do you think he'll play this season? Thanks!
Mike Sando (12:12 PM)
I'll be out there for practice this afternoon, with Butler among the players to watch. The injury situation at receiver -- Branch and Burleson coming off serious knee injuries, with Branch having a one-year head start on recovery -- suggests to me Butler will probably get some chances this season. The Seahawks do want to make use of his speed.
Robert (San Bernardino, CA)
Thanks for answering my question! One more for you. Yesterday you said Zeigler would most likely be the odd man out among the 49ers' WRs. Is that based soley on what you've seen in camp or are you getting that feeling from others as well?
Mike Sando (12:13 PM)
That is based on where I think Zeigler fits in relation to the others, backed by the fact that he hasn't been a big special-teams contributor. It's hard to carry players on the fringes of a roster without getting at least some meaningful contributions from them.
Is Lofa the top LB in the division, or is it Willis hands down?
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
They are different players. Patrick Willis is stronger physically. Lofa Tatupu is highly instinctive. I think Willis would go before Tatupu in an NFL-wide draft featuring those two players. But you can't go wrong with either one.
Scott (New Orleans LA)
Who do you think looked like the best D lineman in 49ers camp outside of Justin Smith.
Mike Sando (12:15 PM)
Aubrayo Franklin looked pretty disruptive.
Eric (Sioux City)
Can you please explain Why Crabtree thinks he should get paid more money than his draft position dictates. HIs "I should have been picked higher" position is idiotic. Teams should start using that bush league logic as well. I know we picked you 10th, but we really think you're a 3rd round talent, so that is what we're going to pay you.
Mike Sando (12:16 PM)
Bet you can't find a quote from Crabtree asking for that type of money. His agent is most likely handling all aspects of negotiations. If that is indeed the stance, good luck to them. They'll need it.
Mike Singletary (Camp)
Sando, this chat is sloppy. I can't read sloppy chats, participate in sloppy chats, don't want anything to do with sloppy chats. Tighten up this chat or I will drop my pants to show my disgust.
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
That one incident -- Singletary dropping his drawers -- certainly caught my attention. My impression at the time was that Singletary would have to tone it down over time to maintain his credibility. I think he has done that. The team seems to be responding to him this offseason.
Jeff (St. Louis)
Who has been the Rams starting LG in camp, Setterstrom?
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
I head to Rams camp next week expecting Jacob Bell to be the starting left guard. The Rams paid quite a bit to him before last season.
Mike, I have heard different things on Hasselbeck some say he is accurate and has a lot of zip on the ball others the opposite, have you seen him? what is your take? thanks!
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
Hasselbeck looked good when I saw him this offseason. I'll make my 2009 Seahawks camp debut this afternoon.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Will Kurt Warner's hip be a lingering problem throughout the season? It's hard for someone that old to come back strong from major surgery?
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
This surgery did not qualify as "major" by NFL standards. The expectation is for Warner to be fine this season. He was the one who mentioned the pain he is experiencing post-surgery. Otherwise we probably would not know about it.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
While everyone thinks that Karlos Dansby is a gonner after this season, who's to say that a guy with zero Pro Bowls is gonna get more money than he's been getting the last two years?
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
Two words come to mind: Calvin Pace.
Is Huard automatically 3rd QB or does he have as much as a shot as Smith at being the starter? Did Hill look good, becuase he did very well when he was at the helm last year.
Mike Sando (12:22 PM)
The 49ers are not considering Damon Huard for the starting job at this time. The question becomes whether the 49ers would attempt to sneak rookie fifth-rounder Nate Davis through waivers and onto the practice squad, or if they would just release Huard. Very unlikely they would carry four QBs on the 53.
Anthony (Bowling Green KY)
I think there are still some very good free agents left for teams to grab. Do you see any of the NFC west teams trying to pick up a late free agent like Chris Mcallister or Harrison before the season?
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
I might rephrase that. There are some unsigned players who have had very good careers. Chris McAlister and Marvin Harrison might have two decent knees between them.
Stuart (Memphis, TN)
Hey Mike, one of those silent Rams fans here! I think the weakest position on our team is linebacker. What can the Rams do to help shore it up before the season and how do you see the position battle playing out?
Mike Sando (12:26 PM)
You and I see the Rams' roster the same way on this one. The team has resisted signing a veteran backup. Go ahead and write Will Witherspoon into the starting lineup. That is a given. I expect James Laurinaitis to work his way in there sooner than later. And then Chris Draft is probably the third guy. I've read good things about Larry Grant in this camp. Next week takes me to St. Louis and I'll have a chance to size them up first hand.
Scott (New Orleans)
Do the 49ers have any MORE injuries than usually or any other team dueing camp? and do any of them seem to be serious for the team?
Mike Sando (12:27 PM)
The 49ers' injuries do not seem disproportionate. Luck plays into these things as well. The Rams are holding a physical camp with tackling and they have made it through pretty good so far. The 49ers are holding a physical camp, but there is no live tackling.
Speaking of the Rams line, how do they look for the future? I would love to see them draft Bulaga next year and line up as...Smith--Bell--Brown--Setterstrom--Bulaga.
Mike Sando (12:28 PM)
Alex Barron is the key variable there. Long term, you figure Jason Smith moves into the lineup at left tackle. LG, C and RG should be set as long as Jacob Bell earns his money. Then it comes down to either finding a RT or developing one of the younger players on the roster. The line's long-term prognosis appears healthy.
Stephen (Berwyn, IL)
Hey Mikey, with this new smashmouth 49'er offense, do you see Frank Gore having a big year? Or do you see his durability being a question mark?
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
Frank Gore should have a better year. The injury issue is tougher to predict. I do think he'll have to play through some things. Running backs take a beating.
Mike, I know you're headed to the VMAC today, and I'm guessing one of the players you'll be watching will be Forsett? What have you been hearing about him?
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I've heard really good things about Justin Forsett. Tim Ruskell mentioned a couple months ago that Forsett had been a nice surprise this offseason. They wanted to see how well he adjusted to the zone blocking scheme. Apparently there were some initial concerns about how his style would project. Turns out Forsett has made the transition nicely.
Cpl Peak (US MArine)
I see the RT spot as the 49ers Biggest weakness, Snyder is a versitle player but no better than a back up, Smith may not be healthy. Can Boone make a push for this spot this season? Could he be the answer for the future with more development?
Mike Sando (12:32 PM)
Alex Boone is not yet ready to be a starting offensive tackle, based on what I saw. That's an unrealistic expectation anyway. The Marvel Smith situation seems tenuous. The 49ers are basically keeping their fingers crossed and hoping he makes it through. I tried to watch him at camp, but he doesn't practice very much.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Can you do me a favor? While you are at the VMAC can you look at the Hawks O-line? I know it won't be the starters today but Spencer specifically is of interest. Plus, I have heard good things about Sims early on in this camp and want to know your thoughts.
Mike Sando (12:33 PM)
Will do. Dave Boling has written about Sims looking good in camp so far. Dave's a good friend and trusted observer (as a former college offensive lineman and graduate-assistant coach).
I've read so many conflicting reports regarding how the Hawks DLine my head hurts. Who will be the starters?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
Cory Redding, Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane and Patrick Kerney seem to be likely starters. There's some depth on the line, though, and I expect the composition to change by situation (down, distance and so forth).
Stephen Scott (Norfolk, VA)
Do you see Justin Forsett possible being another Dunn?
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
That thought has not occurred to me.
Mike, With Wahle's retirement will Unger be the starting LG? how do you see the OL looking for the Hawks?
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
Rob Sims is moving to left guard, the position he played before the team signed Wahle. I would expect Sims to start at left guard all season. The rest of the line should be fine as long as Walter Jones is in the lineup.
Mike Sando (12:37 PM)
One thing I'm curious to see, though, is whether Max Unger or even Steve Vallos find their way into the lineup, depending on how the summer goes for Chris Spencer.
Evan Johnson (Salt Lake City )
Hey Mike, i'm wondering how the 49ers' secondary was looking? That group makes me a little bit nervous.
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
Niners' secondary looks much more athletic. Dre Bly flies around and comes close to getting his hands on the ball. Dashon Goldson is a breath of fresh air back there at free safety. We just need to see how those guys perform in real games. The secondary was a weakness last season. It has the potential to improve this season.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
What is your take on 9-0? Do you think he realized that taking the Adrian Wilson route to a new contract was the best way to go?
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
Darnell Dockett is a force. I'm interested in seeing how the Cardinals plan to use him within a 3-4 framework. They say they have big plans for him. Dockett does not fit the typical 3-4 mold. He's an up-the-field rusher and pretty dynamic that way. There's a lot to love about his game. Cardinals fans should be pleased about the approach Dockett is taking this summer. Part of me wonders if Twitter is giving him an outlet to blow off steam and feel like he's speaking his mind. Better there than elsewhere, probably, although some of the things he writes about might not help him command more money, frankly.
Liam (Pleasanton, California)
How much potential does Dashon Golson have? I'm wondering if the 49ers would consider drafting USC's safety next year with one of their 2 1st round pics
Mike Sando (12:42 PM)
This could be Michael Lewis' final year as a starter, in theory, so the team could consider a safety even if Dashon Goldson becomes a solid starter and playmaker back there at free safety.
Julian Holman (Bay Area )
MIke, I am really excited about the 49ers chances to win the division. I understand the Cards are coming off a Super Bowl but that might be a good thing - how many Super Bowl losers are contenders the following year? Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
The 49ers have a chance at the division if they get better-than-average play from the QB position. Otherwise I think it's tougher. Injuries are a huge variable given how things went last season with Arizona staying healthy and Seattle losing so many key players, including some older players who could, in theory, be prone to more injuries.
Darnell is crying about a 3rd contract. I'm still playing out my rookie deal.
Mike Sando (12:46 PM)
Except Dockett is no longer complaining. And if the Cardinals remain disciplined on these things without getting panicky, they have a chance to establish the type of precedent that New England has established (precedent that gives Vince Wilfork less incentive to complain). The Cardinals need to show confidence in their ability to re-sign players. If they do that, they won't have to worry about re-signing guys with two and three years left on their deals. Most teams wait til the final year and then try to get things done.
realisticly what will the rams record be if everone says healthy and buger is as good as his pro bowl day
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
A fully healthy Rams team with a Pro Bowl-caliber Marc Bulger might be enough for the Rams to challenge .500.
do you have a twitter account of your own?
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
profootballtalk just referenced that crabtree might sit out the entire year. do you think crabtree would do this?
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
That is the type of thing someone says when they're getting a little desperate. I'll believe it when I see it.
Just saw that Eugene Parker told the niners that Crabtree will sit out and re-enter the draft. How dumb is that reasoning? Do you think this just a negotiating ploy? Crabtree is already falling out of favor with fans, and im sure the NFL as whole. All for a guy who hasnt played a down. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
Michael Crabtree would lose money going that route. It makes no sense financially in terms of waiting a full year before pocketing the money. Also, would Crabtree go earlier than 10th next year after sitting out one offseason and a full regular season?
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, what kind of role do you see Scott McKillop playing?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
Special teams this season, with the potential to challenge for playing time in the defense next season, depending on what he shows.
What did you think of the Rams drafting Laurainits over Maualuga. I thought it was a horrible decision. Of course, what do I know, maybe he'll be the next great OSU LB...Katzenmoyer, Hawk, Carpenter, etc.
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
I recall lots of people ripping the Seahawks for trading up in the second round of the 2005 draft to select an undersized linebacker named Lofa Tatupu. A lot of teams passed on Rey Maualuga in the 2009 draft, not just the Rams. Too early to say how things will work out.
Sando, What's up Man!! I asked you to do some research on the 49ers OB situation and I must say I loved the piece on Alex Smith looking good so far.... Hypothetically speaking, Alex Smith lives up to his potential and becomes not a great but above-average QB, doesn't the Smith/Gore/Morgan and Crabtree tandem sound dangerous for years to come? Of course that is once Crabtree signs and gets in camp! Do you like the sound of that future? What do you think?
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
One thought heading into camp was that Alex Smith might make a more logical choice to start if Michael Crabtree appeared ready to make an impact as part of a revitalized receiving corps. That is not going to happen if Crabtree stays away. Longer term, though, yes, that is exactly what the 49ers would like to see, based on how they have drafted.
Shane (Los Angles, CA)
Sando: If 9-0 plays at his Pro Bowl level this year, do you really have any faith the Cards organization will rework his contract? I dont and would fully support a holdout on his end if he has outplayed his contract for 3 years.
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
If the Cardinals do not want players asking for new contracts with two and three years left on their deals, they should not give new contracts to players with two and three years left on their deals. Precedent matters a great deal in these situations. The Cardinals have held their ground with Anquan Boldin so far. They waited til Adrian Wilson had only one year left. I think they've made too much progress to just suddenly give Dockett or other good players new deals too early.
Ok Sando, good answer, try this one before you go... you gave a prediction on a healthy Hawks team this year, try one for me... Hypothetically speaking... Smith starts, Crabtree signs today... The 2009 49ers record will be.....
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
Matt R (Mesa AZ)
Mike,The cards seem to have Berry listed as a back up LB but no doubt will get playing time. To me Berry is to good to be coming off the bench. What do you think of him starting at LOLB over Haggins?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
Bertrand Berry seems best suited as a situational pass rusher, in my view. He is good at that.
Matt R (Mesa AZ)
Sando: Who would you give the 5th/4th WR spot to, Long or Doucet?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
1. Fitzgerald2. Boldin3. Breaston4. Urban5. Doucet6. Long/field