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 ET!
Hans (Miami, FL)
Hey Mike, I was wondering if you think that the Sna Francisco 49ers need to sign Michael Crabtree before the season starts, or do they have enough weapons at WR to keep negotiations stalled? Thanks for taking my question
Mike Sando (12:01 PM)
The 49ers should not do a bad deal just to sign Michael Crabtree. He isn't going to help significantly them right away after missing the entire offseason before training camp. The 49ers are going to commit to a physical mentality through the running game. They have enough other weapons to run their offense, particularly if Adam Snyder keeps playing well at right tackle and Vernon Davis builds on a good camp.
Charlie (North Carolina)
How good do u think Seattle will be this year? What's the latest on Crabtree in SF
Mike Sando (12:02 PM)
The outlook for Seattle has taken hits recently. Not having Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant is no way to go into a season.
Scott (Bethlehem, PA)
Hey Mike - Miss your Seattle blog. My question - are the Seahawks headed for another 2008 with injuries taking out key players? (Trufant, Jones, etc). Do they have the depth to handle it better this year?
Mike Sando (12:04 PM)
They do not have the depth at offensive tackle or quarterback, two key positions, and their secondary is much weaker without Trufant.
will the Cardinals win the nfc west this yr and break the sb loser jinx?
Mike Sando (12:06 PM)
I don't think there is a jinx. I think it comes down to QB health most of the time. Seattle got back to the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl, largely because Matt Hasselbeck didn't miss half the season. I think the Cardinals will compete for the division crown and probably win it if Kurt Warner is their quarterback.
King Kev (Austin)
Who has the better season, Jon Carlson or Vernon Davis?
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
Davis' numbers should rebound. I think Davis and Carlson should each catch 45-60 balls this season. Carlson is the more polished receiver by a wide margin and he will stay on the field for third downs this season, but with T.J. Houshmandzadeh onboard, he'll have to share the ball. The 49ers will make better use of Davis in the passing game, particularly if their situation at tackle holds up.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
With Walter Jones being out indefinitely are there any free agent tackles still on the market? Or do you think the Seahawks are content with what they have?
Mike Sando (12:08 PM)
Levi Jones is out there. The Seahawks have considered him in the past. Jones has had some injury issues. Not sure if he is healthy. But I do think Seattle needs to sign a tackle.
kevin manigault (staten island)
what team uses nickel prowl
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
Patriots? Let me know.
Rachel (Everett WA)
Two questions if you have the time: Who do you believe will lead the NFC West in sacks? And How is Deon Butler looking?
Mike Sando (12:10 PM)
Deon Butler has his moments. I think he'll be hit and miss. Make some big plays, disappear at times, etc. Patrick Kerney and Leonard Little could have the most sacks if they can stay healthy.
mike- always read your blog and trust me- there are alot of rams fans here in STL and we are cautiously excited about spags resurrecting our sad franchise. so, my question is with our defense - will we see major improvement in the run defense and our LB crew
Mike Sando (12:12 PM)
I'm not sold on the talent or depth in the Rams' front seven. I'm also curious to what extent Steve Spagnuolo will run the defense. He needs to be very involved, in my view. The Rams were too often not competent on defense last season. By that I mean they blatantly blew coverages and assignments. The team should clean up some of that. Expect fewer disaster plays, in other words. But I still think the Rams could have issues on defense. They lack depth at linebacker, in my view, and they're counting on older players up front, specifically Leonard Little.
When is Donnie Avery expected to return? What type of season can Steven Jackson have considering the lack of other weapons?
Mike Sando (12:14 PM)
I get the feeling from watching Rams camp that Jackson could be back to his 80- or 90-catch ways. Injury risks could be the only thing to stop him. I still see at least 1,200 yards rushing for him with the possibility for a lot more.
Brian (the AZ)
Hey Mike - Awesome blog! Do you think that Beanie will be able to over come his nagging ankle sprain with enough of the pre-season left in order to get some reps in? How do you see the organization handling his injury??Thanks!
Mike Sando (12:15 PM)
Thanks, Brian. I do think Wells will get some preseason reps. I just think the ankle injury will make it tougher for him to win the job right away. Tim Hightower has appeared a bit reborn. We'll see if it matters. Right now, we haven't seen enough of Wells to know what he might offer the offense. And if he cannot pass protect reliably, the Cardinals will have a hard time putting him on the field in the real games.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Was it just me or did the Seahawks defensive front four look much improved from last year's?
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
Seattle has a bigger, more physical defensive front that should hold up better against the run. That stood out to me right away. There are also some question marks on the durability front. I wonder whether Cory Redding and Patrick Kerney can hold up for a full season. Kerney thinks moving to the right side should spare him from some of the double-teams and overall punishment he absorbed on the other side. My initial impression of Colin Cole was a positive one. Looked pretty stout. It's just weird seeing big massive guys up front for Seattle.
the408 (Santa Cruz)
Which NFC West team will have the best defense this year? Most take aways?
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
The Cardinals should have the most takeaways on defense. They had 17 fumble recoveries last season. They have playmakers in the secondary with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson. Overall, though, the 49ers should have the best defense. They've been running that system a while, they are pretty stout in the front seven and they should be more athletic in the secondary with Dashon Goldson out there.
Justin (S. Florida)
Will F. Gore get his back is 2006 type numbers or will the ball get moved around more with the extra weapons on the offense (Morgan, b. jones, coffee, etc.)?
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
I suspect Gore will get his carries even though Glen Coffee has shown well to this point, including on blitz pickup.
W/Brett now in Minnesota do u have them better or worse
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
I couldn't resist one Favre question. What makes anyone think he's suddenly going to be healthy for a full season after finally breaking down in 2008? I am skeptical about what he will bring for a full season and into the playoffs, based on what happened late last season.
Lee (GSO, NC)
Mike, Gut feeling, are the Seahawks better or worse on defense this year? With Tru going down (maybe indefinitely) the pass defense seems to me to be destined to be worse, if that's possible. Another Q: is Lawrence Jackson a total bust at this point?
Mike Sando (12:22 PM)
Lawrence Jackson has one season in the league. I do not think we can sum up his career at this point. He's shown some things rushing from the interior, something he could do on passing downs. A first-round pick does need to become more than just a situational player, of course. I do question whether Jackson will validate his first-round pedigree, but he can still be a good player. On defense, the Seahawks should be better. They're bigger and stouter up front.
P. Willis (Santa Clara)
Will I be able to take the next step and cause more turnovers and possibly a few sacks this year?
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
Patrick Willis has two Pro Bowls in two seasons. He has already taken the next step as an inside linebacker. Now he just has to sustain it for years to come. I do not see him becoming a big pass-rush guy. That is not his role. If the 49ers do improve their pass rush, Willis will get his hands on the football more often. Think back to the 86-yard INT return against Seattle last season. One of the most impressive plays I've seen from a linebacker.
Was it just me or was Max Unger do a great job during the game?
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
I did not see you in the game, but I can vouch for Unger. He looks like he'll be a long-term starter and if I were the Seahawks, I would consider putting him on the field right away.
Do you think this is a rebound year for Hasselback since he is finally healthy or will this be the begining of the end?
Mike Sando (12:25 PM)
It's a rebound year as long as his back holds up. The back injury is a tricky variable here. He could be fine or he could suddenly not be fine. I think he played hurt last season and it affected his productivity in a big way, particularly with so many receivers injured. Hasselbeck will definitely have better numbers this season. The question is whether he'll last a full season.
Darius (New Haven ct)
What do you think of Josh Morgan this year? Providing he can stay healthy.
Mike Sando (12:27 PM)
Josh Morgan's numbers should spike in a big way. He had only 20 catches last season and the staph infection slowed him. Now he'll be a starter out of the gates. Michael Crabtree is a non-factor right now. Brandon Jones is out. I see Morgan and Isaac Bruce as the starters.
what position do you think will prevent the niners the most from the playoffs, besides quarterback?
Mike Sando (12:27 PM)
The pass rush. I'm unconvinced the team has addressed that area sufficiently.
Stuart (Memphis, TN)
Hey Mike! Love your blog, you do some truely awesome work. I am wondering about the Rams defensive line. I've heard some mixed messages about them, some saying they look good others saying that they wont. Spags seems to be a d-line guy so will that help Long and Carricker?
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
Thanks, Stuart. Chris Long and Adam Carriker will always be judged as first-round draft choices. Long does not look like a player with the physical tools to become a dominant defensive end. He can be a solid starter, in my view, but it's a bit of an upset if he suddenly emerges as a dynamic threat. Carriker hasn't been able to stay healthy. So, while Spagnuolo can help those guys, he can't remove their limitations.
Am I the only one who thinks Aaron Curry looked slightly confused out their?
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I was a little surprised the Seahawks threw him out there. I think it shows how much faith they have in him athletically. He should improve as he plays more.
fantasy question... is matt hasslebeck a descent back up qb
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
"Descent" might be a little harsh, although his career took a downward turn last season. I think he would be a good fantasy backup. He's a high-risk, high-reward player at this point.
Tyler Parker (Shelbyville,TN)
Who besides Donnie Avery in Blue and Gold will emerge to be counted on for more than 20 catches?
Mike Sando (12:31 PM)
Randy McMichael, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton and Steven Jackson. All should catch more than 20 passes this season.
Any word on how Nate Davis has looked?
Mike Sando (12:32 PM)
Like a rookie. He is a project. You see the physical tools. You also see he is raw.
who do you think deserves to win the qb race, i say hill, he's rarely turned it over, but with smith thats his biggest problem and taking alot of sacks
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
Shaun Hill, without question, based on what we have seen so far. From a purely selfish standpoint, I would be curious to see what Alex Smith might do over the course of a full season. The 49ers can't afford to indulge curiosities, though. They need to play the guy who has looked like The Guy. That guy is No. 13.
chris (Grantsville, utah)
Why is it that everyone talks about the niners not getting a pass rusher in draft or free agency. Arn't teams suppose to try and groom there players they already have why is it okay for other teams to do that but eveyone is on the niners for doing it i mean Brooks,lawson,harris,harlson If just one of those devlop than where fine than.
Mike Sando (12:35 PM)
Yes, the 49ers and other teams should groom their own pass rushers. Trying to do that does not guarantee success, however, and so far we haven't seen enough to know whether those guys you mentioned will solve the problem.
Hey Mike. Great Blog! How do you think the Cards pass rushers will fear this year? They can't rely on the DB's all game.
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
Thanks. I'm a little skeptical. Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry did something unexpected last season: They stayed healthy enough to play significant snaps all season. Bill Davis, the new defensive coordinator, talked about blitz packages when I asked him about improving the pass rush. Sometimes that's what people say when they don't have the players. In this case, the Cardinals do not appear to have a great pure pass rusher. They have some guys who can rush the passer -- Okeafor, Berry, Darnell Dockett, etc. -- and they drafted Cody Brown, but I'm still not entirely sold.
Will D.Branch be enough of a threat to keep Housh from being double teamed every play.
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
Watch tight end John Carlson. I think he has the ability to attract attention in the middle of the field, where Houshmandzadeh also figures to work.
Hey mike now that training camp is over, played one preseason game, and seem to be dominating the raiders right, do u think the 49ers should be ranked higher on power rating and should lean more toward a 9-7 season?
Mike Sando (12:39 PM)
I would not change rankings based on one exhibition game and two days of practices against a team that has been historically bad over the last six seasons. That said, I do think the 49ers will be a competitive team.
You answered a Favre question, so how about a Burress question? I usually find myself defending the legal system and punishment given out for cases like Vick?s, Stallworth?s, and the like where a player broke the law. I know what Plaxico did was stupid, but I cannot help but think 2 years in prison is really excessive. His weapon was registered in another state. He followed the legal process originally. Professional athletes have to feel vulnerable when they are out in society, especially in New York. Look at what happened to Darrent Williams. The guy lost his life. If you ask me there are too many people in jail unnecessarily, and Plaxico Burress just joined that list. Again, what he did was ridiculously stupid, and he should be punished, but 2 years in a small cell for what he did is simply not fair. He was the only victim then, and is the only victim now.
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
Laws vary from state to state and city to city. Weapons laws are tough in New York. Plaxico Burress will pay the price, as others have.
With Nick Reed looking so awesome out there, is there a chance he could get some playing time during the regular season?
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
Sure, there's a chance. Darryl Tapp's production could dictate how much the Seahwaks wind up needing another young pass rusher.
how much longer do you give lawson to prove his pass rush before you'd put brooks in?... brooks looked much better in the preseason game i feal
Mike Sando (12:42 PM)
Ahmad Brooks was playing in Parys Haralson's spot. I think you give Manny Lawson every opportunity to develop this season.
Joe (St. Louis)
Is it time to call Adam Carriker a bust. Can't stay on the field and when he is out there, rarely seems to make a difference.
Mike Sando (12:43 PM)
I do not know what would be accomplished by calling someone a bust.
Jim (Los Angeles)
Hi Mike. Love the chats, but any chance ESPN could install spell check? Or have someone who speaks English edit the submissions?
Mike Sando (12:45 PM)
"Or have someone who speaks English edit the submissions" is not a sentence. Haha.
Any chance Vernon Davis will ever "get it"and turn the physical talent into an NFL football player?
Mike Sando (12:46 PM)
Yes. I do not see him living up to his draft status, but it's not his fault the 49ers drafted him so early. Davis has been a very immature player. Logic says he will become more mature as he ages. As that happens, he has a chance to improve.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Kelly Jennings... does he have the talent and drive for bounce-back year or is he just a pretty good athlete who doesn't have the football instincts to be good at this level?
Mike Sando (12:47 PM)
Jennings has very good cover skills. He is simply too small, from what I have seen, to challenge effectively at the ball on a consistent basis.
I respect your opinion...unfortunately I didnt get it with my Burress question. I know laws are different, yada yda, but I want to know if you think its fair or not. Two years for a victimless crime? Maybe he should have run a gambling ring and tortured dogs. His sentence should be a fraction of Vicks.
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
I think it's fair for Burress to be punished as under the established laws. Do I see illogical discrepancies in punishment meted out by our judicial system? Of course. I'd like to see certain types of criminals punished more harshly than Burress is being punished. I'm sure a lot of people feel that way.
Walt (Rochester, NY)
How has Chilo Rachal looked in camp and during the first preseason game? He showed promise last year and hopefully he continues to improve.
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
I watched him fairly closely in that game and thought he was OK. Young players sometimes need to learn what it takes to become consistent and to finish plays. That's what I will be watching to see from Rachal this year.
Sando, I've been wondering if Warner's hip should be a concern. It's obviously still bothering him. Is this the type of injury that would get better with a week or two of rest or will he just have to continue to play through the pain?
Mike Sando (12:51 PM)
I do not think the hip will limit Warner this season, based on my conversations with medical people familiar with the surgery type.
Is there a position that would better suit Jennings' size?
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
Sando, who has the edge in the NFC West?
Mike Sando (12:53 PM)
Arizona. Kurt Warner has shown he can stay on the field and play at a Pro Bowl level.
I thought Calais Campbell was awful impressive against the Steelers. Did he impress you?
Mike Sando (12:54 PM)
Calais Campbell jumped off the screen and I wrote about him in some detail that night.
Josh T (Seattle)
Niner fan here living in Seattle. Mike I was surprised to hear on ESPN radio the other day that you think the Niners at the most will be an 8-8 team this year. After all the positive additions they've made with a great new coach, depth at receiver, shoring up the O-line, healthy Frank Gore do you really think the Niners will ONLY win 1 more game this season compared to last year?
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
I questioned whether they had the QB situation to jump from that 8-8 range into the upper echelon. Would I be shocked if they went 9-7? No.
How can you say that Kurt Warner has shown he can stay on the field when he has played 16 games in a season only 3 times in his career?
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
He has started 31 consecutive games, including 20 last season. Go through his career and tell me how many games he has missed to injury in the last four or five seasons. Not nearly as many as people think.
Matt (San Fran)
Mike, do you think the Niners, with their physical, emotional style, could be quick starters, slow finishers? If so, do you think this could be a season in which that works with AZ and Sea weeks 1 and 2? I just hope they surprise AZ in week 1 and roll from there.
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
Yes, I do think the 49ers could start quickly and have a harder time sustaining. I base that also on the fact that they are holding a physical, highly intense training camp. What will that mean for them in November and December? It's a fair question. Also, while Shaun Hill has done well in spurts, you figure the rest of the NFL will be a little wiser in scheming against him.
Rapid fire... HIll or Smith?
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
Shaun Hill and it's not close right now because Smith has not jumped up and seized the job.
Does Seattle use Next yrs No.1 pick on a QB or LT?
Mike Sando (12:58 PM)
The team has two first-round picks next season. Those would be good positions to target.
Thoughts on Eric Green signing with the Niners? Seems like they might be using him for insider information considering he wasn't even good enough to crack the active roster with the Cardinals.
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
The insider information angle is overrated. The Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator. Eric Green wouldn't be able to help much, if at all.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
Thanks for chatting this week. See you on the blog and on Facebook.