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!
Dominick (San Diego)
Mike, I keep hearing how great Mike Williams looks, but I can't help but feel like looking at those reports and shrugging them off. Why should anyone expect Mike Williams to all of a sudden perform like the top 10 pick he was at this point in his career? Are fans expecting a little too much out of Mike Williams?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
You have the right attitude. Mike Williams has disappointed in the past. It's unwise to assume he is suddenly a changed man. We need to see it on the field. So far, we have seen it on the field, but it is barely even mid-August. The Seahawks should feel great about what Williams has shown them so far. He came to them at little cost. But they should also keep in mind Williams' past.
Brad (Visalia, CA)
Hey Sando, I just saw Maiocco writing that he thought Dominique Zeigler was among the top 4 WR's at camp so far. Would you agree? Seems like it would come down to him or Jason Hill to get the fifth and most likely final spot of the WR group. I'm putting Crabtree, Morgan, Ginn, and K. Williams down as locks, primarily due to Williams' punt return ability.
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
The preseason games will decide those spots. Right now we have initial impressions. I agree that Kyle Williams looks promising. Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn Jr. would also comprise my top three. The team will probably keep five or six. Do not rule out Brandon Jones. A strong preseason from him could give this group better depth. He's had a hamstring problem lately, though, and that is not good. Zeigler is good enough as a pure wide receiver to command a spot on the 53-man roster. The problem is that he isn't providing much help on special teams. Ideally, you would like the fifth or sixth receiver to contribute there. Otherwise it's tough to keep them active for games.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
I keep hearing about how Matt Hasselbeck was 'trying too hard' last year to make things happen.I thought the major issue was that Matt wasn't allowed to check down on any plays. Is there any truth to this?If so, is it not weird for an OC to strip a veteran QB's ability to change plays based on coverage?Wouldn't this have a very big effect on a QB's ability to run an offense effectively?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
The main problem was that Hasselbeck's offensive line disintegrated and the team lacked good players around him overall. Hasselbeck then tried to do too much, which was a natural reaction. The problem isn't Hasselbeck trying to do too much. The problem is Hasselbeck having a bad team around him. Give him some help and he won't try to do too much. On check-downs, I do not know if that was a problem.
Seth A (Orion, IL)
I had heard reports about Nate Clements looking good in camp, but some of coach Singletary's remarks have me believing that he's still a ways off. How's Nate looking, and will the 49ers secondary be vastly improved this year?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Nate Clements does look good. As a coach, though, Singletary wants to keep Clements on his toes and keep Clements working to improve. Ken Whisenhunt is doing the same thing with Matt Leinart and Beanie Wells. It's just what coaches do to keep guys focused and motivated.
Does Seattle still have any interest in Albert Haynesworth and Vincent Jackson?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
What is the price? Price dictates interest ultimately. I do think the Seahawks are monitoring Jackson's situation in particular, but so far their receivers are looking OK.
Rick Hernandez (Pasadena, CA)
Hello Mike, what have you seen from the Rams backup RBs that shows there is a legit runner who can spell Steven Jackson? As much as a stud Jackson is, I just don't see him healthy all year with the touches he's getting.
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
I saw 2009 rookie Chris Ogbonnaya show good all-around skills in the Arizona game late last season. That showed me he could probably provide some relief at the position. Now, if something were to knock out Jackson for several weeks, I'm not sure Ogbonnaya would be ready for a full workload. In spot duty, though, he did show promise.
Eric (Snohomish, WA)
Sando, what kind of impact do you see John Carlson having in Jeremy Bates' offense? Any predictions stats-wise?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Yeah, I think he should catch somewhere around 50-60 passes this season. His touchdown totals could depend to a degree on what Mike Williams provides in the red zone. Carlson has the ability to catch 70-80 passes, I think. We just need to see what the team really has at wide receiver. Will Golden Tate really be a factor? Etc.
From what you saw in practice and have read, how soon can we expect Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati to be upgrades over their 2009 counterparts?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I think it could happen in the first month of the season. The bar wasn't all that high at those positions.
Mike, doesn't it seem odd just how irritated Singletary is over Kentwan Balmer's supposed "personal (agent uses: family) issue"? What's your take on what's REALLY going on with KB?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
My read: Mike Singletary doesn't understand it when a player appears to lack the drive that helped make Singletary great. He cannot understand why a player would not do everything possible to practice every day.
Kevin (SF, CA)
Just how much trouble are the Cardinals in if they can't solidify that ILB spot without Hayes, but the rest of the positions stay solid?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
They can cover for Gerald Hayes' loss if the rest of the positions are solid. Paris Lenon has extensive experience. Daryl Washington has talent. The depth at nose tackle is improved. The problem I see is this: What effect might that ILB spot have if the Cardinals find themselves trailing in games, putting opponents in position to pound away?
Greg (San Francisco)
Mike - who do you see winning Week 1 in Seattle and if it's not the Niners, were you sad when you failed third grade?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
The 49ers should win, just as they should have won there last season. Does not mean they will win. The atmosphere will be electric for Week 1 and the 49ers will have to play well.
tom page (bellevue,wa)
Now that Russell Okung has been installed as the first team left tackle, how do you think he will fare this season? Overall is he an asset or liability?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Russell Okung will prove an upgrade over what the Seahawks had at the position last season. He will not approach the level of play Walter Jones provided previously. But the situation was so bad at tackle last season, Okung can only make it better.
Jacob (San Francisco)
Do you find it funny that Niner fans think they can win with Alex Smith?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
The 49ers won five games with Smith last season, so the answer would be no.
Marcus Trufant has had a couple of less than stellar years. Do you think he will return to Pro Bowl caliber, or should Seahawk fans get use to the new Tru?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Trufant was a Pro Bowl corner one time, in 2007, so it's not like that was his established level of play throughout his career. I think he appears leaner and healthier this summer. He is moving more naturally. He should be significantly better. To reach that Pro Bowl level, though, he will probably need the team to succeed. That would put him in position to get some interceptions. I just question whether the pass-rush will be sufficient to help make that happen, even if Trufant is improved.
I know the 49ers and Rams have great backs in Gore and Jackson. I have a gut feeling that one if not both will go down this year due to injury. They both have been workhorses for very bad teams over the last few years and minus Gores games vs Seattle he had a very average season last year. Jackson's back is still not right either which will impact such a physical back. I am starting to be more of a believer of Seattle everyday, the division will be decided if Matt Hasselbeck will be upright.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Every fan is entitled to some offseason optimism. Steven Jackson's back appears to be fine at this point. It's reasonable to say injuries will affect Jackson and Frank Gore. Whether Jackson misses games isn't going to affect Seattle in the standings unless the Rams improve enough overall to become factors in the division. If you're going to say Gore will break down, the same logic suggests Hasselbeck will break down, too.
Sam (St. Louis)
Who is the best QB in the division today?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Matt Hasselbeck, as long as he is healthy.
Do you think Aaron Curry will justify being an early draft pick this year?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Curry might never justify being the fourth overall choice. He is a strong-side linebacker and that is awfully early to take a player at that position. The Seahawks knew this, but they felt Curry was a relatively safe selection. I would expect Curry to improve this season and become a good pro.
Rick (Pasadena, CA)
Who do the Rams play at LT if everyone is healthy? Should the fact that Jason Smith was a number 2 overall play a part in the decision?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
In theory, yes, Smith's status as the second overall choice should make him the man at left tackle. But it appears as though rookie Rodger Saffold is more comfortable there, and the Rams like what Smith offers as a physical presence in the run game on the right side. I think they'll go into the season with Saffold at left tackle and Smith on the right side.
When are you making it to Rams camp? Want to see what your opinion of Bradford is? I think you have been pretty honest about your opinions so far.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Thanks. I leave for Rams camp on Saturday morning and will watch the Vikings-Rams game at the Edward Jones Dome that night. I will then drive to the 49ers-Colts game Sunday, then drive back to St. Louis and watch the Rams from Monday through Thursday morning. Looking forward to it very much!
Henry (The Bay)
If/when do you see Darnell Dockett getting his contract extension?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
In the next couple months. That is my feeling.
Mike, I can't help but feel that having two rookies (albeit excellent rookies) on the offensive line can be potentially dangerous to start the year, as they will be getting their first taste of the NFL, and will more than likely make their fair share of mistakes. Not that they have anywhere else to turn, but do you think Alex Smith will be taking a lot of hits this year and should Niners fans be worried?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Yeah, that thought has occurred to me. The 49ers play three of their first four games on the road, including a trip to Seattle, home of the NFL's loudest stadium (not so much last season, but it will be loud for the opener, no doubt). The lone home game out of the first four is against the Super Bowl champion Saints. What you have to remember, though, is how bad the line looked early last season with less-talented alternatives in the lineup. It wasn't a great situation.
If you had to pick a division winner today, and if you failed all of humanity would be sucked through a black hole, and sent to a land where giant spiders ate babies, and vampires roamed the praries, who wins?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
The 49ers, but it's no slam dunk.
Will Justin Forsett really be as good as we think he can be?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
That depends on how good you think he can be. I will not be shocked if he finishes with more than 1,000 yards rushing while maintaining an average greater than 4.0 yards per carry.
Do the Seahawks have any chance at landing Aaron Schobel?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Sounds like not. They are interested, but their understanding -- the league's understanding -- is that Schobel wants to play for Houston.
Give me something...anything, that will make me feel good about being a Rams fan.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Dustin Karstetter (Salem, OR)
I have been pleasantly surprised with how well some of the draft picks and offseason free agents signed have been performing. After seeing the various teams in camp, how do the Seahawks stack up against their NFC West competition?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Lofa Tatupu told me yesterday he was highly impressed with the 2010 draft class in Seattle, not just at the top. Overall, I see less established leadership in Seattle than in Arizona or San Francisco. I see less continuity and more question marks.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Let's go a couple more questions here. I'm going to have to bail a little early today. Must finish a Seahawks Camp Confidential file before heading to their practice. Then, like I said, it's off to see the Rams beginning Saturday, and the 49ers again Sunday.
I maintain that Alex Smith just has to play smart, not great, ie. finding the open man and making high percentage throws whenever possible. I also think those things are within his ability. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Yep. Alex Smith has ample weapons. Just run the offense. Do not try to do too much. I do think it's possible for him to have a decent season and the 49ers to win the division.
Paul (Mesa, AZ)
Let's say Matt Leinart fails miserably and Derek Anderson fails as well and the Cardinals have a horrible season. What do you think the Cardinals would do to solve the QB situation or who would they pick up in the future free agency?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
That would be a brutal situation. In that situation, they might be drafting high enough to select one early. The Steelers did that with Ben Roethlisberger when Ken Whisenhunt was coaching in Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt is an offensive coach. It would be good for him if the organization found a young quarterback -- his quarterback, not one he inherited, such as Leinart -- to develop. They would of course consider the free-agent and trade market, as they did this offseason.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Thanks much for keeping the chat rolling. As noted, I need to leave about 15 minutes early here to make sure I finish a Seahawks Camp Confidential before heading off to their practice. Thanks again!