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!
Victor (Walnut Creek )
Who is the best available QB on the market for the 49ers?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
Jim Harbaugh wants to install a West Coast system. Kevin Kolb has played in a West Coast system. Kolb will likely be available. The 49ers probably do not want to rely on a rookie quarterback in 2011. I can't think of a reason they should not at least strongly consider Kolb. Perhaps there is one. I just think it makes sense on the surface.
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Mike, with the uncertainty of the CBA and David Carr being the only signed QB next year, what are the realistic odds that Alex Smith comes back? Jim Harbaugh is tactically praising him and it does seem that Alex did better when they played like a West Coast system, not in a run-first Singletary offense.I know this probably won't sit well with a lot of the fans, but he might be our best option since the QB draft class is weak and free agency may not happen until Week 1. Harbaugh would not be 'dragged down' by Smith like previous coaches because of the circumstances. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
You have a good read on the situation, in my view. The 49ers know Alex Smith probably is not the long-term answer, but until they have the long-term answer, they need to sign or retain the best available players at the position. Smith was their best quarterback at the end of the season. The team gains nothing by parting with him unless it replaces him with something better. Smith will make the decision ultimately, however. We might have to see what other options he has before knowing whether he's an option in San Francisco.
Adam R (Albany)
Mike, how crucial is it that my Rams draft a wide receiver (as Todd McShay and Mel Kiper predict) in the first round over, say, an offensive lineman?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Getting the best player is what matters. I don't see why the Rams would take an offensive lineman that early. They have their tackles. They likely would not draft a guard or center at No. 14. I think they'll be much more likely to consider another position -- receiver, defensive line, even linebacker or defensive back -- over the offensive line in the first round.
Sand-O, sounds like you had a great morning. As a Rams fan, truly jealous. Off the beaten path of the NFC West, but curious: whats the BIGGEST key for the Pack to beat the Steelers on Sunday?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
It was a great morning. Nice catching up with Sam Bradford. As for the Super Bowl, I'm interested in seeing whether the Packers' skilled defensive backs can pick off Ben Roethlisberger. This has been a good Green Bay defense. Can the Packers force some turnovers? That is a big key.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Quick break here for a radio commitment. Typing and talking right now!
Hi Mike, love the work you do for the blog. Is Fred Robbins expendable or an asset going into 2011?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
OK, back. Sorry about that. I do not think Robbins is expendable at all. He had a good season for the Rams. Bring him back. Draft some help for him at defensive tackle.
Michael (Portland, OR)
Has the growing possibility of labor lockout cast a shadow over the Super Bowl festivities this week? Is the league still publicly showing confidence in reaching a deal before the deadline?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
I do not sense a big shadow. There's a sense that these labor stalemates get solved at the last minute, so there is no need to panic just yet.
Mike, be honest. How do you see Cortez Kennedy's chances of getting into the Hall of Fame? Does he have a real chance of getting in?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
As a voter, I do no handicap odds for Hall of Fame induction out of respect for the process. He was one of the final 10 last year, so that says he commands respect in the room. But there is no way to predict how things will unfold.
What are your thoughts on who the Cards will target for DC. Who do you think they will be able to land?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Keith Butler is the one I think could be most likely to land in Arizona. The Cardinals have been waiting patiently. Would Ken Whisenhunt do that if he did not think he could get Butler, the guy he wants? Perhaps he would. I'd put Butler as the favorite and then Todd Bowles of the Miami Dolphins as another option. Just my feel.
Hey Mike, love the blog. What's Larry Fitzgerald's situation? Would the Cardinals trade him this season if no extension is signed? Will they just play it out and let him walk? If he walks, what are some landing spots? If traded who gets him? Mostly, would the 49ers have a shot?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Hi Cedric. I expect Larry Fitzgerald to wait out this season before seriously pursuing a new deal. The Cardinals are in a tough spot. They do not have the leverage because they cannot name him their franchise player. Fitzgerald also has a no-trade clause in his contract. If and when Fitzgerald hits the open market, I think he'll sign with a team he feels has a shot to win. He would probably not go to the 49ers without having a good quarterback there, in my view. Also, the 49ers have lots of money tied up in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. I do not see them necessarily setting aside piles of cash to pay another pass catcher.
In light of Steve's question, do you think we can look back on the Niners dumping of Shaun Hill as a big mistake? I think the fans would be far less likely to commit themselves to an insane asylum with Hill as the stopgap QB than old whats his name.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
It was a mistake, sure. And it might have been a huge one if you think having Hill would have allowed the 49ers to win a couple more games. In the grand scheme, though, Shaun Hill wasn't the long-term answer, either. Call it a mistake, but not a massive one. A medium one.
Mike, who you got in the SB? As I recall, back in NOLA I told you that Rodgers was the MVP and I was going with the Pack to win. Have I convinced you?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I have been leaning toward the Steelers all along, but I'm making a late change and leaning toward Rodgers pulling a Steve Young here -- perhaps playing so well that he cannot be denied. Who knows? It's fun to guess, but these games can take unexpected turns. I do like the way Rodgers is playing. The game is also indoors, which helps him.
Joaquin (Hanford CA)
Mike, why would the niners pay premium price for Kevin Kolb if they will draft a rookie QB to groom when there is less expensive QBs available like Marc Bulger and Josh Johnson while a rookie QB is groom?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
That would depend mostly on whether the 49ers thought Kevin Kolb could become a franchise-type quarterback for them. If they thought he were comparable to Bulger or Johnson, they would go in that type of direction.
Sando, which NFC West team do you see "benefiting" the most the longer it takes for a CBA to be in place? Which team do you see getting hurt the most?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
The teams with the most needs would get hurt the most. I think St. Louis would come out OK because the Rams have their quarterback. The teams needing quarterbacks would have few options.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Sand-O, love the work. With all of the talk of a new stadium being built in Los Angeles, I am becoming a little uneasy. Are the Rams a realistic candidate to move back to the West Coast? Their name has been rumored throughout along with a few other teams. With Kroenke assuming majority control of the team, that makes me feel a little better. But it is a business as we all know. Do I have reason to worry that the Rams might be heading out West in the near future? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Stan Kroenke has worked on the Los Angeles Stadium Working Committee, by the way, but I would not necessarily read a lot into that. The stadium is the issue for the Rams in the long term. The team can opt out of its lease in 2014 if the stadium fails to meet certain standards. The feeling is that the stadium will not rank high enough among NFL stadiums in overall quality to prevent the Rams from opting out. And if the Rams opt out, sure, relocation could be a consideration.
You mentioned that Kolb would be the ideal QB for the 9ers to go after; do you think Seattle would consider making a play for him?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
"Ideal" might be a little strong based on what we do not yet know about Kolb, but he could be a logical option. The Seahawks could make sense, too, as Darrell Bevell takes over their offense. Seattle has shown it will wheel and deal.
Mike, when do you think people are going to realize that this offseason is not going to be pretty. All you ever hear on the chats is what this team should do in FA or what trade should be worked out. I think the stuff will hit the fan in March and especially April when there is no football. Your thoughts.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
People realize a lockout could change everything, but it's OK to envision what teams might do if an agreement is in place. I think the reality of a potential lockout will sink in more as we get closer to that March 4 date. We are down to one more month.
Hey Mike , just wanted to get your thoughts on the Seahawks and the draft. I don't think QB is as crucial as most, yes it's not the ideal situation right now, but I think there is value in the middle rounds especially if Ponder falls to the third (I know they don't have a third). I would much rather see them strengthen the lines and re-sign Hasselback.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I guess it depends upon how picky one thinks the Seahawks should be when lining up that next quarterback. For example, I understood why the Seahawks did not select Mark Sanchez with the fourth overall choice. That decision could wind up being wrong. It does not look like a good one now. But if the team thought Sanchez would not become the answer, why invest such a high pick in him? I do think Seattle has enough needs on the lines to invest there first -- unless Seattle thinks it has a chance to draft a true franchise QB. The status quo at quarterback was not a great option last season.
Who will be the starter at QB for the Cards next season? My bet is it will not be anyone that was on the 2010 roster.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
That would be my guess too. I'll go with Marc Bulger for now, but will we have free agency? Uncertainty clouds this offseason. The Cardinals do need to find a starter, though. There is no way around it.
Jordan Meyenburg (Olympia)
Do you think the Seahawks will be able to get one of the big name targets in free agency? Especially Nnamdi Asomugha and, at least for us, Robert Gallery.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
If free agency comes off as normal, yes, I could see the Seahawks making a big play for someone. The roster needs upgrading, the team owner has the resources, the general manager has said he'll be more aggressive than his mentor in free agency, Pete Carroll could be looking to strike. Gallery is a natural. He would not be a huge signing. I have thought the Raiders would likely keep Asomugha.
Chris (Lake Anna, Virginia)
Hey, Mike, awesome blog, read it every day. Are the 49ers not even considering the potiential of Troy Smith? He played half decent without knowing even half of the playbook.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
"Not even considering" might be a little strong, but it's an upset if the 49ers seriously consider him as their starting quarterback.
Primary candidate for Seahawks QB coach in your guess?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Carl Smith is the name I heard early. Jim Zorn is out there, but I've heard nothing yet. It's a little off my radar here at the Super Bowl.
thomas kkleehammer (poulsbo, wa)
Mike, for Seattle: How about the safety from UCLA for their draft pick? Awesome combo with Thomas!
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
That would be a tough sell. The Seahawks have more glaring needs at more important positions, and they do have Kam Chancellor as a potential successor to Lawyer Milloy.
What do the Seahawks want Hasslebeck to come back so much? I get they went to the playoffs but they were 7-9 and I didn't think he played THAT well. Plus he's an injury risk. Am I crazy???
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
How much do they want him back? Pete Carroll has said they want him back. I believe him. But what else was he going to say heading into a playoff game or one week after the season? There would be no advantage to hemming or hawing. The Seahawks still want to upgrade that position long term, but there's a chance Hasselbeck will remain their best option for the interim.
Joe (Los Angeles)
Thanks for your hard work, Mike. Do you think Mike McCarthy is responsible for one of the worst offensive seasons in NFL history (2005 49ers) or was his vision clouded by inept QB play? From rookie Alex Smith to Tim Rattay and then the great Ken Dorsey, I'm not sure Bill Walsh could have coached that crew to victory. My question is, did the 49ers ownership view McCarthy as expendable after that season, allowing him to get swooped up by the Packers? This has to be one of the worst oversights of the current ownership. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Subsequent evidence shows us McCarthy was not the problem in San Francisco -- at all.
Drew Plommer (Seattle)
If Gabe Carimi and Mike Pouncey are available at 25 for the Seahawks, do they really pass on one of them?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Who else is available and how do the Seahawks have them rated?
On an AZ blog, someone suggested the Cards move Adrian Wilson to LB. Seems this might have some merit as Wilson struggles covering most every tight end, but is a force in run support and pressuring the QB. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Have him support the run and pressure the quarterback as a safety. Do not turn him into an undersized linebacker.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Thanks for dropping by. The Super Bowl week schedule is pulling me away a few minutes early. I need to catch a ride to the media center now. Thanks again. My pleasure, as always.