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!
So I bet you are laughing at all the 49ers running the table comments last week. As a 49ers fan I am too. They just aren't that good yet and haven't proven they can win big games. Ah well, there is always next year.
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Laughing? No. But the season has played out pretty much as anticipated, although I thought Seattle and St. Louis might be a game or two better at this point.
frank gore (san francisco)
Can we run from the I every now and then?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
There is no "I" in 49ers.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Ok Mike, I am going to go against the grain here. As bad as the Rams quarterback play has been, I think if they have a shot at Suh in the draft they HAVE to take him. The "miss" potential on Suh is way less than that of any quarterback that is out there. Heck, none of these guys are as gifted physically as Ryan Leaf and we know he did not pan out. If they spend huge money on a QB, they will have to throw him out there in 2010 and he will get hammered. With Suh, they can try and play 14-10 games and build some confidence, while grooming a second or better yet third round qb (go for O line in the second round). Tell me why I am wrong please? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
You do not sound wrong to me. The only way you take a quarterback that early is if you don't see any red flags. There were some red flags with Ryan Leaf. The Rams have not gotten dynamic enough players early in past drafts. Adding a dominant defensive lineman -- and I'll trust conventional wisdom on Ndamukong Suh -- would give Steve Spagnuolo someone to build around up front. The team does need offensive playmakers, too, so that must be a consideration early as well.
Sando-What do you think has led to the Rams horrendous decline towards the end of this decade? It's hard to believe that the started the decade going to 2 of the first 3 Super Bowls. Personally, I think it started with letting London Fletcher go and replacing him with the horrendous Jamie Duncan!
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
The Rams have missed on far too many draft choices, leaving them too reliant upon aging former stars such as Leonard Little. They finally felt compelled to move on without a lot of those fading stars, such as Orlando Pace and Torry Holt. Getting rid of them was the right move. Now we need to see whether the Rams can add the right players to replace them.
Seth A (Iowa City, IA)
Was the Niners' loss to the Seahawks the worst coaching in the NFC West you've seen so far? I understand that they are throwing more. That's great, but Frank Gore getting nine carries? Six of which were just dives up the middle when they were pinned inside their own 5? Yes, the Frank Gore that ran for 200 yards in just a little over one half of play against the Seahawks in Week 2. Does Singletary jump the gun a little bit in some of his decisions?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
The 49ers absolutely do need to make Frank Gore relevant in their offense. It's mystifying to me how Gore could not get more chances under the circumstances (game was close).
Mike, give us a list of who you think the Seahawks are considering for GM or at least who you think they should look at. Do you think they are going to stay away from Holmgren?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I do not have a list of candidates and I suspect the team has not lined up anything yet. My expectation would be for the Seahawks no make an announcement within the first few weeks following the regular season.
What are the chances/odds Anquan Boldin is a Cardinal in 2010?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
At least 50 percent, I would think. He cannot go anywhere without their approval, of course, and his value might not be great enough to justify taking him away from Kurt Warner. Trading him for good value would make sense given that he is an asset with some hard miles on his odometer, and the team probably will not re-sign him long term. The closer Arizona gets to the end of Boldin's contract, the more the team should consider doing something.
Are the Cardinals built to last? It seems like they have a lot of players disgruntled with their contracts (Boldin and Dockett specifically). Are they going to keep these cornerstones in place?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett have little leverage in the end. The Cardinals need to keep drafting players such as Calais Campbell, who replaced Antonio Smith, to set themselves up for the future. Life changes once Kurt Warner leaves. The Cardinals are built to contend as long as he plays at a high level. There will be an adjustment period after Warner retires.
Paul (Boise, Id)
It sounds like the Seahawks don't want to start over at head coach. Will their decision on the next GM based on whether or not he wants to keep around Mora?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
That will be a factor and I think you are on the right track. It's unlikely the team will replace Jim Mora after only one season. CEO Tod Leiweke said the next GM will join the Seahawks. The Seahawks will not join the next GM.
Looks like the 'Hawks are big underdogs at Houston this weekend. With Steve Slaton on the shelf and our offensive line gaining some consistency, what is it going to take for Matt Hasselbeck and the boys to come out with a win? Also, is Cory Redding going to be back?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
The Seahawks do expect Cory Redding to return. The best way to beat the Texans will be to hit Matt Schaub, who is hurting right now and not known as a durable player. The Seattle pass rush is a weakness, however, so the Seahawks could be vulnerable defensively. You raise an interesting point about the Seattle offensive line gaining some consistency. Left tackle Sean Locklear had problems against the 49ers. Mario Williams has sacks in three of the Texans' last four games. He was hurting and ineffective when I saw him against the 49ers, but if he is playing at a higher level, that matchup could favor Houston. Let's see if Justin Forsett can get something going in the running game for Seattle.
Chris (Danville, Ca)
So of course you were right about the Seahawks managing a win last week. What do you think the chances are that the Cardinals let up after such a huge win last week and the 49ers capitalize Monday night?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Well, I can't say I predicted a Seahawks victory. I just said the 49ers needed to worry about winning that game, not running the table or anything along those lines. The Cardinals should not let up for this game, based on the feeling I got from them. Had they already beaten the 49ers in the opener, I could see that sort of letdown being more likely. The circumstances here -- payback, Monday Night Football, division title on the line, a maturing Cardinals team -- seem to suggest Arizona will not overlook this game.
What's up Sando? I just got done talking to Santa Claus and he informed that for Christmas you are getting one day to replace Scot McGloughan on draft day in April... So, say the season ends today and the 49ers have the 10th and 12th picks, Sando you are now on the clock... What two positions are you drafting 1st round? Remember, its a gift from Santa so you have to make a decision!
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Hey, appreciate you checking in with Mr. Claus on my behalf. With those picks, I come away with two future Hall of Famers, one for the offensive line and another for the pass rush. I then graciously give the credit to McCloughan when he delivers my own Hall of Fame induction speech years later.
Chip Rosenbloom (Bel Air, CA)
Why shouldn't I want to move the RAMS back to Los Angeles? After all, I live there and work in the film industry and now there's a stadium in place. What's stopping me?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Someone still needs to convince me that Los Angeles is passionate about the NFL.
Is there any way the Seahawks bring back Julius Jones? He's been rather unimpressive during his two-year tenure. Isn't it team they drafted a RB with one of their high picks? Justin Forsett can stay as the third-down back.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
The Seahawks could save about $1.4 million in 2010 cap room by parting with Julius Jones. The team does need to draft a difference-making player at that position. Justin Forsett could then stick around in his current role or some variation of it, depending on the need. The Seahawks have botched that position in recent seasons and it is costing them.
Do you think it makes for the Seahawks to consider Ruston Wesbter as a candiate for the GM position? Isnt it just more of the same? Like Ruskell, hes a defensive guy and the teams biggest holes are on offense (OL, future QB, RB).
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Bolstering the pass rush needs to be another priority. Webster's close ties to Tim Ruskell could hurt him in Paul Allen's eyes. It really comes down to whether Allen wants a clean break, or to what degree. And we cannot know that at this time.
Still waiting for your thoughts on the MNF game - Do the Cards lay an egg or extract payback for the first meeting this year?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
My expectation is for the Cardinals to win the game. That has been my feeling since Week 1.
The cards look poised to perhaps run the table and end 12-4. Do you see Minnesota faltering in two of their last four games to open up the door to the two seed? I know it is far fetched, kind of like hosting an NFC championship game.
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I do not expect the Vikings to falter to that degree. They should still secure the second seed. The Cardinals do have a good shot at 12-4, though the unexpected does happen sometimes and I could see them finishing 11-5 pretty easily. The 49ers certainly have a chance Monday night, and it's unclear what Green Bay or Arizona will have on the line in Week 17.
Jeremy Combs (Denver)
I am a 49ers fan and even though I have been hoping that they would win the division I have recognized that the Cardinals are a great team while the 49ers have yet to reach the status of "good". How many key players do you think the Niners need to become a good team.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
Quarterback play is the key variable. Beyond that, the 49ers can expect Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to improve. They need to upgrade the offensive line. They need to find a way for Frank Gore and/or the running game to matter.
Tyson (Calistoga, CA)
Do you think Kurt Warner and the Cardinals passing attack will be able to put up enough points to win over the 49ers? The 9ers always seem to be able to score against the Cardinals, and the Cardinals have had trouble against 3-4 defenses to protect the quarterback, so I see a relatively close game this monday. Hopefully the Cardinals can win by more than a ghost tackle of Frank Gore this year on Monday night!
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Justin Smith has given the Cardinals problems. Parys Haralson was a big problem for Arizona in the opener. The Arizona offensive line surprised a lot of people, including me, with its solid protection against the Vikings. The Cardinals will win easily if Warner has time. That is hardly a given. I think the Cardinals have enough balance and talent offensively to control this game.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
The Texans are really bad at running the football, averaging only 3.4 yards a carry, and that was BEFORE they lost Steve Slaton for the year. Should the Hawks only rush four and keep everyone else in coverage -- like they did against the Cards -- or should they try and do more blitzing? Either way you would assume that their defense should be 90% geared toward stopping Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, right?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yes, the Seattle game plan must be geared to stop the passing game. I would blitz only to the extent that I was able to hit Schaub. That will be key given Schaub's injury status. If the blitzes are not getting there, then sit back in coverage and wait for your front four to get there eventually.
Seth (Newport News)
From what I have heard, the Rams coaching staff doesn't feel Keith Null is ready to start yet. I find it puzzling then that they go and sign Mike Reilly, another D II QB. What do you think of the signing?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Not much. They're adding camp depth. Neither Null nor Reilly should be expected to start a regular-season NFL game anytime soon or probably ever.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O! Everything I read makes it seem like its a foregone conclusion the Vikes will have the #2 seed in the playoffs. The Vikes could very easily lose to the Bengals this week and drop one of their other 3. The Cards could win out with games against the 49ers, Lions, Rams, and Packers. If the Vikes and Cards finish with the same record, don't the Cards win the tie breaker?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I question whether the Bengals can score enough points to beat the Vikings when the Vikings are probably in bounce-back mode. You're right that it is possible. Just does not seem all that likely.
Can we officially end the argument and say the Cardinals ARE a better team with a healthy Anquan Boldin than not?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The healthy part is indeed important. That performance Sunday had to make the Cardinals feel very good about what Anquan Boldin has to offer. One question I've had in the past is whether having a healthy Boldin has sometimes led the Cardinals to rely too heavily on four-receiver personnel groupings at the expense of their run game. The team ran a fair amount of two-tight end stuff against Arizona. I think it's important for the Cardinals to keep doing that stuff even when they have a full contingent of healthy wideouts.
Mike,Thanks for all the good work. In my opinion the boldin and dockett situations are far less troublesome than the dansby one. You outlined the boldin situation well, either they trade him this off season b/c of their depth at WR or they keep him for his final year and then he walks. Dockett has both multiple years left on his deal and the cardinals will not let him go. Eventually they will work out a long term deal or if necessary apply the franchise tag on him for at least 1 season (which would put us some 3-4 years from now). Dansby however is a free agent, again. The cards have very little depth at LB (both inside and out) to begin with and no other LB has his skill set. Hayes is a thumper, Highsmith is a nice special teamer/some rotation, but nobody can cover and run like karlos while also being so effective in blitzing and run support. Are their backs against the wall with this one and are they forced to pay him? How do you think this will play out? It would be terrible cost wise to franchise him again, that'd be close to 20 mil guar. over the 3 years if they did that.
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Yep, Karlos Dansby's situation is troublesome. The team does not have enough quality depth at that position to live comfortably without him. Calvin Pace left previously. Cody Brown is raw and has a serious injury to overcome. Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry are older players. The Cardinals need to have a plan at that position.
Mike from Arizona just nailed it. There is real concern with the Cards... I fear that Boldin, Dockett, and probably even Dansby will be icing down the Cardinals all summer long. No one on that team will be buddies after all the bad blood from the business end of things, which is unfortunate because they all seem to be good buddies right now.
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
The buddy angle is a little overrated. Players tend to focus in and produce during the season. Anquan Boldin is an example. Players respond to incentives. Some of the players you mentioned have great incentive to play at a high level. Their financial futures will depend upon it to a degree.
Nick (Seattle, WA)
Hey Mike,What do you think of Justin Forsett as a long term option for the Seahawks? I'm not on board, but a lot of fans really seem to think he is the answer. I like him in a limited role.
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Forsett looks like he has earned a spot in the rotation. I don't think they will proceed on the assumption that he will be the starter or primary back.
Hey Sando, I'm curious about your thoughts on Colin Cole? We paid him $20M to get him to Seattle and I'm curious how you think he's done in that position? Obviously he's supposed to sit in there and eat up double teams so stats don't really describe his performance. What are your thoughts (given the supposed deep DT draft class this offseason)
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Cole has been fine. Not great, not bad. He appears suited to the role he is playing. As far as pushing the pocket or being disruptive, that is not him.
Sando- I see that you are leaning towards the Cards on Monday Night, but as a Niners fan, I have a different question. Assuming SF can win out against Arizona, Philly, Detroit and St. Louis, and assuming Arizona drops one to Green Bay in the last game, do you think there is ANY chance that Arizona screws up and loses a trap game to St. Louis or Detriot to give the Niners a HUGE suprise come-from-behind for the division? I know its unlikely, but just wondering...
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
No. The 49ers could not assume they would beat Seattle. That makes it tough to assume they'll win the rest of their games. If they did, the Cardinals still would take care of business against the Lions and Rams.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat.