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 1 p.m. ET!
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, there's no doubt the Niners defense can stop Steve Slaton. Do you think they can limit Matt Shaub enough to pull out a win?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
The 49ers' pass defense can be hit and miss. If you're a 49ers fan, you have to worry about what happened against Terrell Owens last season and Roddy White this season.
Trevor (Fremont, CA)
Hey Sando, love the blog! As a huge niners fan, I've accepted the fact that their fate this season lies in the hands of the offensive line. Do you think Singletary's moves to start Pashos at RT and to alternate Rachal and Snyder at RG is a good one? I'm a big Snyder fan, and I really think that line becomes so much more reliable when Rachal is finally not a starter anymore.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Thanks, Trevor. Anything that reduces Chilo Rachal's snaps has to help the line. I'm not sold on Pashos as an every-snap tackle at this stage. The line will probably continue to struggle some. Becoming less predictable is key. I think the 49ers have a chance to accomplish that now that Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore are on the field.
FytinIrish (Greeley, CO)
Long time since I've asked a question or commented.. That being said, I love what Hightower brings to the Cardinals passing game, he seems to get most of the early receptions leading to Cards receivers getting open more later on... but how much longer before Beanie really gets his chance at more carries (I don't mind them sharing, just needs more for himself)? He is our best shot at establishing a running game.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
The Cardinals are making a conscious effort to get Beanie Wells more involved. I think that will come at Tim Hightower's expense. It's not a great thing for the offense when Hightower leads the team in receptions. It's really a reflection of the Cardinals' inability to make plays downfield to this point in the season.
Jay (Cincinnati, OH)
So are the niners going to be able to fix that O-line of theirs without additional talent?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Only if they can become less predictable. The 49ers have asked too much of their line, which has limited talent.
Hi Mike....I read a couple articles about somethings Singletary mentioned about his quarterbacks. I was wondering how long do you think Hill has to get Crabtree plenty of catches before Smith gets his crack at it....or do you think Hill will keep his spot the rest of the season? Thanks
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I tend to think Alex Smith will get a chance at some point this season. The 49ers committed to Shaun Hill only at the last minute -- well into August -- and you know they have to be holding out hope for Smith. I'm sure internally there's a thought along the lines of, hey, let's take a look at an offense with a bunch of 49ers draft choices: Smith, Gore, Crabtree, Davis, Staley, Morgan, etc.
Kalen (Kodiak, Alaska)
So Marcus Trufant and Leroy Hill seem to be ready to suit up after the bye week. That is great news for Seattle, but what is the latest news on Walter Jones and Sean Locklear.
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Sean Locklear has a chance to play, but it doesn't sound like a great chance. I would consider Walter Jones a longer shot at this point. Getting those players healthy would transform Seattle's offense and give the Seahawks a chance to win the division. I think it's going to be tough sledding without a restoration of the tackle position.
Robbie (Manhattan Beach)
Hey Mike any word on if Locklear will be back for the Dallas game? If Seattle goes in with its fifth-string LT, Ware is going to eat him alive.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
The fifth-string left tackle would be Damion McIntosh at this point. He could not possibly do worse than Kyle Williams in Week 6, could he? On the other hand, Demarcus Ware is a better pass rusher than anyone the Cardinals have.
Todd (Norman, OK)
Mike, how many more games do the Rams lose? Think they'll win a game at all this year?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
I think they'll have to beat the Lions in Week 8 to avoid starting at least 0-10.
Sando, do you think that Shawne Merriman is worth one of the 49ers' first-round picks? And if Norv Turner were to get fired by the Chargers, do you think that the 49ers would bring him back as OC? He has been the best OC we have had in a long time.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I would have reservations about adding Shawne Merriman based on his knee and the fact that he has been suspended once already, and his play hasn't exactly continued to improve. On Norv Turner, would he want to come back? If so, I think the 49ers would be wise to consider it -- but only if they knew Turner would stay for a few seasons and if the transition wouldn't be too tough from a scheme standpoint.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, what game are you covering or focusing on this weekend?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I'll be at the 49ers-Texans game for Michael Crabtree's debut. The Cardinals-Giants game would have been a stronger possibility if it weren't a night game. The late start complicates coverage efforts.
Ken (Scottsdale, AZ)
Hey Mike, everyone assumes that Karlos Dansby is a gonner after the season, but considering how much he is being paid do to be franchised, can you see anyone giving him a raise? Could we see another Lance Briggs situation where he goes back to the Cards for around 7M?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
The chances improve the longer Dansby goes without making impact plays. The Cardinals need to figure out what value he has within their defense. They need to figure out what value Darnell Dockett has in their defense.
Jay (Cincinnati, OH)
I'm thinking the niners might benefit from drafting a QB high in next year's QB-rich draft and having them sit a year or two learning the position/offense/pro-game. They could use Hill for a little while and invest some time into a new QB before throwing him into the fire (i.e. Alex Smith) to pay dividends for the future. The few years on the bench didn't seem to hurt Aaron Rodgers.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
You only sit a high pick for "a few" years -- more than a couple -- if you've got Brett Favre or another established player. Otherwise, I think you have to put the young quarterback on the field after the first season. The Bengals waited one season before making that decision with Carson Palmer (at the expense of Jon Kitna, who was coming off a season with 26 touchdown passes).
Robbie (Manhattan Beach)
What do you think about Gus Bradley's timid approach to pass rushing Manning & Warner? It seems like he relies too much on a 4 man pass rush. We saw what happened to Hasselbeck when he had to throw early pretty much every pass play. Why not blitz a little more, its not like we could have done worse.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
The Seahawks could have fared much worse against Kurt Warner. They limited Larry Fitzgerald to 7.7 yards per reception. They forced Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston to beat them with spectacular plays. I thought the Seattle pass rush should have gotten there earlier than it did. I you have to blitz to beat those tackles, particularly Levi Brown, then it's going to be a tough day.
Did you hear if the niners tried to make any moves before the trade deadline?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
No. There was some talk in the division that the Rams could have gotten something for Alex Barron had they chosen to trade him. But there wasn't much else, at least that I heard about. The Seahawks were never interested in trading Deion Branch.
Sando what do you think of Brandon Gibson is he a diffrence maker in the future it seems to me the Rams gave up one of the few good players on the team for very little!
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Brandon Gibson had better make a difference after general manager Billy Devaney said he expected immediate contributions. Either way, the Rams cleared cap room for next season, provided there is a cap, and they affirmed that Will Witherspoon was not an ideal fit -- or value -- for what they want to do defensively.
Pete (San Francisco)
Is it just me or has the tone towards the Niners completely changed with one game? Alex Smith? We should be 4-1 right now, and losing to the Falcons isn't anything to be ashamed of, blowout or not.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yes, you are right. On the other hand, the fact that the 49ers were winning was overshadowing legitimate concerns and criticisms regarding their offense. The Falcons exploited those problems in spectacular fashion. I think that gave everyone more license to focus on the obvious issues. And I think there's a realization that the schedule is getting tougher here for a while. Mike Singletary also said he thought the 49ers were "past" those types of defeats. I found that telling.
Evan (Tempe, AZ)
Hey Mike, love the blog. If the Cardinals play well this weekend (really win or lose given the conditions), and the 49ers play poorly, do you think that would clearly put last year's power structure back in place in the West, with the Cards the team to beat?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Yes. I made the case after Week 5 that nothing had really changed in the division. I've considered the Cardinals the favorite all along. My take after Week 1 was that the 49ers showed it'll be a race and Arizona will have to work for the title. But I thought the Cardinals would come around and win the division eventually. Now, had the 49ers beaten the Vikings and the Falcons, they would be on their way. It just seemed as though some of the 49ers' limitations on offense had to factor at some point.
Yuri (San Francisco, CA)
Mike, let's say Shaun Hill fades in the next couple of games, and the 49ers start Alex Smith, and Smith does not play well. Do the 49ers go to Nate Davis to see what he has to offer? Do they put Hill back in? What would that scenario (two mediocre-at-best QBs and an unknown in Davis) mean to them in terms of the draft next year?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I don't think the team could go to Nate Davis if a shot at the division title remained a possibility. The scenario you described would lead to the 49ers strongly considering a quarterback early in the 2010 draft. Having the extra pick would give them ammunition to consider trading up if necessary.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Thanks for chatting with us Mike. Does the loss at Jacksonville last week crush the Rams' spirit or is it just like any other loss? While they haven't won a game, they also haven't quit yet. How does losing in that fashion to a team of that caliber affect them?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
I don't think it crushes them. Now, Peyton Manning could crush them. I don't think losing 60-0 would be chicken soup for the 0-7 soul. But I do see lots of heart with this team. I see a steady, consistent head coach. I see Steven Jackson and Leonard Little playing their tails off. The Rams have a young team and I think that will help them keep the attitude right.
Dylan (Santa Cruz, CA)
Mike, great job on the blog it keeps me informed on all things NFC West. I have a question about my Niners. The next five weeks look like the toughest part of their schedule. If the Niners actually corrected a few things during the bye and come out strong against the Texans and win, how do you see the rest of that five week schedule turning out?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I think beating the Texans would give the 49ers a good shot at 8-8 this season. Losing to the Texans could make 7-9 more likely. That is the way I see it because I think they'll wind up splitting with the Cardinals and Seahawks.
david (san jose,ca)
What's with the Niners' refusual to play Brandon Jones or Jason Hill?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Hill hasn't done enough to earn playing time. Jones' situation is different. The front office committed good money to him. Sports Illustrated then had an item in which an anonymous 49ers source said the coaching staff had reservations about the signing. I find that revealing in retrospect. If the staff wasn't onboard with Jones' signing, is the staff pushing to get him on the field? Doubt it.
Is Justin Forsett the long term answer at RB for the Seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I think they could use a more dynamic back with better size and speed. Forsett seems good enough to have a significant role in the offense. I would not want to go into a season with him as the No.1 guy.
Josh Brown (Seattle, WA)
Mike - you have to think the Seahawks are incredibly disturbed by the Broncos 6-0 start. Many Hawk fans thought that trade was brilliant. Where do you see the Broncos finishing this year? And the Seahawks for that matter?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Sounds like a good idea for a blog item. The pick from Denver will likely be in the 20s if the Broncos get to even 10 victories, which seems highly likely. I was thinking yesterday that Denver should really win at least 12 games this season. That would push the choice from Denver toward the bottom of the round. I think Seattle will be picking in the top half of the first round, most likely. I base that on what we've learned about the injury situation and the fact that Seattle is 2-4 after playing four of its first six at home.
Hey Mike, do you think Jim Mora has any second thoughts on taking the Seahawk job over the Husky?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
No. The UW job was never a consideration for Mora.
One of the things different about the Cardinals from last year to present is the ability to make big yardage plays. Do you think defenses are playing against the big play, or that the Cards have went to a more conservative play calling given the change of OC's?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I think it's probably a combination of the two. The Cardinals have also missed on a couple of big-play opportunities, including when Kurt Warner overthrew a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald for what would have been a long TD pass against the Colts.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Do the Rams see Alex Barron in their future? I would have thought they'd jump at the chance to get something for him if there weren't going to re-sign him.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
I don't see how the Rams could justify paying starting money to Alex Barron. Seems to me the Rams should draft a right tackle who lines up right and shows more consistently, the assumption being that Jason Smith will move to the left side.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Does the fact that the Rams wouldn't trade a player we don't expect them to keep mean we were wrong and they might try to keep him? (Barron)
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
No, I think it means the Rams could not justify trading away a starting offensive lineman at this point. They probably thought they needed Barron to finish the season. I'm sure the Rams would have considered trading Barron if they could have gotten a lot in return.
Evan Wishman (Los Angeles, Ca)
Rumors have been spreading around recently about the possibility of the St. Louis Rams relocating back to Southern California. With a stadium ready to be built in a location that has 12 million people within a 30 mile radius, what are the chances they make the jump back to the west coast?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I'm skeptical about football in Los Angeles. Is a 4-12 football team cool enough to draw in that market? How about a 6-10 team? An 8-8 team? I just am not sold on the NFL succeeding there unless the team has star power.
Keith H (Seattle)
Good morning Mike, about the Seahawks, I think their problem is they've just gotten old. Too many poundings through the years have caused the injury problems and their decline. It's a bit like watching the Mariners decline after 2001. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
The Seahawks have the fifth-oldest roster in the NFL right now, as calculated by average age. Their defensive starters are only 20th-oldest, so it's not like this team has to start over completely. The Seahawks will need to draft a left tackle and consider drafting a quarterback.
How much longer do you see Isaac Bruce's "veteran exception" keeping him in the starting lineup before the 49ers roll with Morgan, Crabtree, Jones/Hill? I know this question comes without any evidence that Crabtree even deserves to be starting, but how long till they come out with just our faster/younger receivers?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
I question whether they would have re-signed Bruce had they known they would have gotten Michael Crabtree in the draft. I think there's a good chance we'll see two younger starters at receiver in the second half of the season. Isaac Bruce hasn't jumped out as a guy who has to be on the field.
Will the 49ers sweep the cardinals this season?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
I suspect they'll split.
I know I am very late in responding to this, but regarding Beanie vs. Hightower: Beanie is clearly the more fluid and talented runner, but he is constantly fumbling the ball. Two more fumbles (although he recovered them both) against Seattle last week. Coaches say he is moving "too fast" thus not allowing his blockers to properly get set. Fans need to be patient and understand that right now Beanie is simply not ready yet for a multitude of reasons.
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
The question becomes this: What has to happen for Beanie Wells to get more comfortable. I think he needs to play more. He needs some experience. He needs to play. There's a role for Tim Hightower in this offense. I just don't think his running scares opposing defenses. Wells has the talent to affect defenses.
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat and going overtime with me today. I was a little late, but wanted to hang around a while longer to make sure we covered enough ground. Thanks again.