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!
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
Welcome! Let's get rolling.
Brad (Visalia, CA)
Mike, please find a way to end my suffering. How did the Niners blow this Harbaugh deal? Do you think they low-balled him? Sounds like they came in at somewhere between $4.5 and $5M where as Carroll got about $6.5. Do you think if they had come in at the Carroll number that we'd be listening to a press conference right now announcing Harbaugh as HC? I just feel completely betrayed by Jed York.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
You are not the only one. First, it's not over til it's over, so let's not react prematurely. But at this point, I would be quite surprised if the 49ers landed Harbaugh. And if he does get away, your complaints regarding York appear justified. He did say money would be no object, yet all the reports suggest the 49ers came in at a figure well beneath what the Miami Dolphins appear willing to pay. I do not know whether a better offer would have stopped Harbaugh from at least talking to other people, though. He had to know the 49ers would wait for him. What other options were they going to pursue that would trump him? None.
Do you think VY is a possibility in Seattle? He seems like a good fit for Bates' offense and I have to think that Young would appreciate Uncle Pete's approach more than Fisher's "My way or the highway".
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
A fresh start would serve Young well, and we know Carroll gives fresh starts. The key would be whether the Seahawks or any team could land Young on favorable terms. Young cannot have the power he attempted to wield in Tennessee. He would need to be humbled and grateful for the chance. I question whether he would have that state of mind. He is accustomed to "The Man" status. Let's see how the market responds. I'd applaud a team for signing Young to the right kind of deal. The signing team could not offer too many promises.
Hi Mike, I know whoever the new coach is for the Niners will have the ultimate say in what direction they go in for the QB position and draft, but does someone like Vince Young make more sense than a rookie like Gabbert?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I do not see those options as either-or options. Teams such as the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals should seek young talent at the position while protecting themselves by signing veterans with the ability to start. That is not always practical, and Young would not project as a mentoring type at this stage of his career, so that could be a concern. I think adding a young prospect is a must.
I don't understand why the 49ers are not looking at Jon Gruden to come in and help this team. Any word on why the 49ers front office or Jon Gruden himself feels the 49ers are not a fit?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Jon Gruden would not be interested in the 49ers.
Kenneth (San Francisco)
Hey Sando! For the fourth time, lets see if this question gets answered. I have been glued to the computer and twitter following the Harbaugh wooing session. Everyone is worried about Miami swooping in and offering 8 million a year to Harbaugh, but I think everyone is missing a small detail in the evaluation. How big is the Dolphins pursuing a headcoach while they still have Sporano employed? I think that as a prospective employee that would matter to me, it appears that there is no loyalty or respect with Ross?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
That is something Tony Sparano would be more worried about. I do not think Jim Harbaugh is going to be as concerned about that. Getting $7-8 million per year from the Dolphins would offer him some protection.
Mike, if/when the Dolphins get Harbaugh, what will happen to them regarding the Rooney Rule? Everyone knows they will not have interviewed a minority candidate prior to "hiring" Harbaugh, even if they do technically interview someone after Harbaugh. Will it just prove that the Rooney Rule is a joke and needs to be adjusted to avoid loopholes like this?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
I would expect the Dolphins to interview a minority candidate before hiring Harbaugh. This would probably take some time. The Dolphins have not even fired Tony Sparano, to my knowledge. But a quick Harbaugh hiring without following the league-mandated process would presumably trigger a penalty from the league.
Mike, last week you got to my question about the Rams/'Hawks game being a win/lose for both teams. Now looking back on it, and with the fact that Seattle went from 8th, to at least 21st, how big of an impact is that difference for them?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
The Seahawks will have a tougher time drafting one of the top-rated quarterbacks. That is the primary effect. Seattle can thank the San Diego Chargers for winning the AFC West and a playoff game with an 8-8 record a couple years ago. The league responded by making sure playoff teams drafted later.
Would the Rams be better served by going for a WR in free agency as opposed to the draft? The Rams have proven they have a real shot to win the NFC West next year, so they should be in win now mode. With that in mind, shouldn't a FA WR who can immediately help Bradford be the priority over a WR in the draft who would most likely take time to develop?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Yeah, there is some merit to what you are saying. Mardy Gilyard comes to mind. I still think the Rams should consider an elite talent at the position if they can find one in the draft. Dez Bryant looked pretty good for the Cowboys at times. I think the Rams should look at all avenues for upgrading at that and every position, even if it means draft AND free agency.
Tevin T. Broner (NLR)
Do you think the Rams will make some noise in free agency?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
They do have a new owner and they do have a quarterback to build around. They are definitely more likely to make some sort of splash in free agency this offseason than in past offseasons -- provided we have free agency.
Jason (San Francisco)
Would the 49ers be willing to part with draft picks to acquire the No. 1 pick from Carolina? Would Carolina even be willing to trade it?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I feel confident in saying "no" on both fronts. History against it.
Frustrated Niner Fan (SF)
As a 49ers fan I feel sick. If the Niners wanted Harbaugh so bad, they should have made him an offer he could not refuse. It's a joke when Jed says money is no object, then gets immediately outbid by Miami. There are other coaches out there, but I think the Niners should have made a big-time offer. I am contemplating renewing my season tickets as I am tired of watching my team lose.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Jed York would benefit from thinking through what he says in public. He talks a bigger game than he plays at this stage, whether he's guaranteeing a division title after an 0-5 start or saying money is no object in a coaching search. He speaks as though he personally won five Super Bowls.
What are your thoughts on the Cards coaching and GM situations? Do you see some major changes? Hire a new DC? Will Whiz give up play calling to an OC?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
In a normal year, yes, I think the Cardinals would overhaul the defensive staff. I am a little less sure about that in the current climate. We are seeing some teams make decisions with the bottom line in mind. Marvin Lewis stays in Cincy. Jack Del Rio stays in Jacksonville. Jerry Jones sticks with Jason Garrett. Carolina parts with John Fox (and will hire more cheaply, for sure). The Cardinals will have to think hard about whether to change over their coaching staff. Now, they could always write into contracts lockout clauses protecting themselves against having no football, but that process adds another layer of uncertainty, too.
NinerSteve (San Francisco)
Why would Harbaugh want to join an organization like Miami who is hanging their incumbent HC out to dry? What do you think will happen with Harbaugh?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
$7 million to $8 million should allay concerns about Tony Sparano's feelings. I tend to think Harbaugh lands with the Dolphins, yes.
Mike, assuming Harbaugh takes the money and runs who are the 49ers top choices then??
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I would then keep an eye out for so-called second-tier candidates such as Marty Mornhinweg, Hue Jackson, Brian Billick, etc.
Dustin (Salem, OR)
With NO's recent misfortunes in the health of their running game, how well does that bode for the Seahawks this Saturday, allowing them to key in on the passing attack and potentially exploiting Drew Brees' penchant for throwing interceptions?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
It helps, but Brees is still a problem and the Saints figure to have a good plan. The Reggie Bush factor is something Seattle did not have to deal with last time.
Chris (Windsor, Ontario)
How do you think Jed will respond to the public if Harbaugh doesn't sign. I feel like he has not told the truth in years and everything he said after firing MS seems to be a lie.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
I would expect him to skirt uncomfortable questions and put a positive spin on whatever happens.
Tevin T. Broner (NLR)
I know it's early, but do you think that Bradley Fletcher will be the number 1 corner next season. During the season I saw him matched up with alot of number one WR and he held his own. Plus he held Mike Williams a lot during the game with the Seahawks
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I liked his development, but would think a healthy Ron Bartell would still be the top guy.
Neal Polsky (St. louis)
Mike - do you think there will be coaching changes for the Rams - especially Offensive Coordinator.
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
There will probably be a change or two on most staffs. I'd think Pat Shurmur would remain as offensive coordinator, most likely. He will definitely remain if the Browns do not hire him as head coach. And I do not think Shurmur would be the favorite in Cleveland.
I think Skelton will remain the starting QB for Arizona. Unless someone who is a perfect fit *cough* KOLB *cough* comes around. I don't see a plug'n'play QB-type (i.e.:Bradford, Manning) being left when the Cards 5th pick comes around. Will Skelton hold onto the starting position? Chances of getting Kolb?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
They will add another veteran to the mix. I cannot see how they could go into next season with John Skelton as their starter, unless they think the team would have an easier time winning in an empty stadium.
Shawn (Bend Oregon)
What are your thoughts on the Niners' handling of this Harbaugh deal?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
They needed to offer more money than they have reportedly offered. Jed York should not have said money was no object if money were potentially an object. I have no problem with the team moving aggressively in pursuit of a hot candidate. That is what they should have done. But if they were going to eat at the adult table, they needed to make sure they could chew the adult food.
Rob (Bx, NY)
Happy new year Mike and I love the blog. I have a comment about the "money is no object" comment York made. As a 49er fan I would not be upset if they do not spend $7-8 million on a first-time NFL head coach. I know Harbaugh is who they want, but him being the highest-paid coach in the NFL sounds a bit ridiculous to me. I would be upset if they would not pony up to a coach like Gruden, who at least has been a head coach. Jed York does talk a big game and has angered me with some of his comments before, but I would totally understand not hiring Harbaugh. What are your thoughts about this?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
You make a reasoned case. It's more the disparity between the talk and the actions that has the potential to reflect poorly on the 49ers.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O, I am really suprised to see Bill Davis still on the coaching staff in Arizona, given the defensive perormance this year by the Cards. Why do you think this is? I worry that the Bidwills are very reluctant to hire a new DC (and OC for that matter) with the uncertainty of the CBA looming.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
The labor situation is a factor. Also, firing coaches does not solve the problem. Hiring better coaches can solve the problem. Would the Cardinals be able to hire better coaches?
Guillaume (Renton WA)
Why are the Seahawks even considering starting Matt Hasselbeck? He has been playing terrible as of late, and Charlie Whitehurst just won a pressure packed start to make the playoffs. Why is this even an argument?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Stay tuned on the blog. I'll be breaking down this one later in the day Thursday.
Brad (Visalia, CA)
Sando, you just made my day! I think I can speak for a lot of Niner fans, we had no interest in Josh McDaniels either! That would've been the worst consolation prize of all time. Who tops your list as potential HC candidates once the Niners complete their bumbling of the Harbaugh sweepstakes?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Yeah, I think the idea that the 49ers would have interest in McDaniels was what people found most outrageous, given how people view McDaniels following the Denver situation. I think the 49ers would consider the people they have interviewed -- Hue Jackson is on that list -- and possibly people who come available following the wild-card round. But I do not know who they will hire.
Does the past two weeks cement the perception of Jed York being in over his head as acting "owner" of the 49ers? First he announces he would hire a GM first, then a coach (all the while he already had his sights set on Harbaugh) and pronounces that money is no object. How did he not know that in order to get Harbaugh, the 49ers would have had to at least match the contract that Seattle gave Pete Carroll?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
It does cement the perception if Harbaugh goes elsewhere.
Matt (San Diego)
What needs do the Cardinals address first? QB, OC , or DC? I would like to see them bring in an OC who can actually call the plays! Whiz can have some input but whoever they bring in he needs to relieve the play-calling duties and just work on being a Head Coach.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Ken Whisenhunt's play-calling isn't even on my list of pressing concerns. It's what people complain about when things are going poorly. Good luck to anyone trying to call plays with a third-string quarterback in the game. I would put quarterback atop the list.
I know I am in the minority as a huge Seahawks fan, but I wish they would have lost vs the Rams and gotten the #8 draft pick. Now they will pick #21 at best. Why is everyone so against this line of thinking? I want this team to be better, and with no shot to even make the NFC Title game, I think long term the #8 pick would have been more benificial. Your thought?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Every Seahawks fan should want the team to draft higher, but not at the expense of a division title and playoff appearance. That is my view. The team had an obligation to do everything in its power to defeat the Rams. Once that happened, sure, it's a bummer to draft later, but that is the way it goes. Perhaps the draft-order rules should be tweaked to allow for this situation.
Carroll and the Seahawks wouldn't sign VY for the one and only reason...VY beat Carroll in the Nat'l Championship Game. Carroll likes his own, see Mike Williams. The Seahawks best bet is to draft a QB. Locker?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Carroll likes his own so much, he drafted Golden Tate from USC's arch-rival, Notre Dame, and cut LenDale White.
Why would Hawks fans want Whitehurst. His reads are slow, he scrambles too quickly, and he throws late. Hass is the only shot at a win. Go Hawks.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Charlie Whitehurst has not been throwing the ball to the other team. That is one consideration.
What is going to be the key positon to get (apart from QB) for the seahawks?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Offensive line. They could use a right tackle and two guards, assuming Max Unger moves into the lineup at center next season.
rymong (Riverside, CA)
How much will the Seahawks miss blocking TE Chris Baker this week?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
Their 3TE offense probably goes away. I think it hurts their ground game. I see their tight ends miss quite a few blocks, it seems.
Brian (Philadelphia, PA)
Even though I know the season is still going on for the Seahawks, do you foresee them making major changes in regards to the RB position this off-season or do they stay with Lynch/Forsett tandem?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
That is one position where they seem to be OK. I would think they would funnel resources elsewhere unless they find something they cannot refuse.
Who would be a better fit for the Cardinals? McNabb (if available) or Bulger?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Donovan McNabb might be able to hold up better behind a line without a good pass-blocking left tackle.
Lucy (Santa Clara)
I love your blog! Thanks for keeping us well informed. My question is why is Jed Yorks's credibility in question and the owner of the Dolphins' credibility is not in question?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks. Stephen Ross' credibility is in question. It's just less an issue for the NFC West blog community.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat!