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!
Steve D. (Palisades Park, NJ)
Seeing as how Josh Johnson is a free agent after this season, do you think he will be a 49er next season.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
Seems like the 49ers could have made a strong play for him this season if they viewed him as a starter. If they viewed him as a backup or just a guy to compete, then Johnson would be in the same situation as Alex Smith or even Colin Kaepernick, depending upon what the 49ers think of Kaepernick six months from now. To answer your question directly: Johnson would fit for obvious reasons, but the 49ers do not appear determined to land him as a starting quarterback.
How long will it take for Seattle to get a decent QB? I thought Charlie Whitehurst was the answer. They were real high on him when the trade went through.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
We can tell how "high" a team is on a player by consulting the player's contract. The team did not pay starting money to Whitehurst. Therefore, the team did not acquire Whitehurst with an expectation that Whitehurst would be the starter necessarily. In contrast, the Arizona Cardinals made a huge statement with the contract they gave Kevin Kolb. They were obviously "real high" on Kolb. Seattle? Not as high on Whitehurst.
Are the 'Hawks really going to cut Golden Tate or is this just posturing? He seems way too talented to cut right now. Plus, I think of all offensive coordinators, Darrell Bevell (who used Percy Harvin really well) could maximize Tate's abilties. What's your take on the Golden Tate situation?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Tate will not be cut. The Seahawks are not considering cutting him. I understand why fans might wonder. Tate has not impressed to this point in his career, outside some practices last offseason. I think the team understands it's too early to give up on Tate under the circumstances (coordinator changes, quarterback changes, lockout, etc.).
Jeremy (Seattle, wa)
Why would the Seahawks bring in Clinton Portis to take a look at him if we are happy with the three RBs we have? Is there something that we don't know?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Portis is seeking visits with NFL teams. His cousin plays for the Seahawks. My feel at this point is that Portis is doing the pursuing here.
Ricardo (Saint Louis)
What are realistic expectations for Robert Quinn? or is this year a big unknown? By all accounts, he started slow, but has started to come on and play well in the last preseason game. I am also blown away by his attitude. All his comments suggest he is humble and has been willing and smart enough to learn all he can from the vets on the defensive line. Chris Long had a slow start to his career, but Quinn strikes me as the type that may be able to make a bigger initial impact because of his pure speed. Am I wrong on that assessment. Also, it's a shame about Danario Alexander's knees, isn't it? Having seen what he did last year, he seems seriously talented, but he may not make the team.
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
A realistic expectation for Quinn would be playing 40-50 percent of the snaps and getting five or six sacks, with a chance for more if the team does well. Playing six division games against teams with questions in pass protection should help. Long was in a different situation because the Rams were a weaker team and they needed immediate production from him. They also needed Long to play out of position (right side instead of left) because Leonard Little was entrenched on the left side. There's less pressure on Quinn. On Alexander, yes, the knee trouble is unfortunate.
Hi Mike, do you see the Cards picking up an extra corner back or running back after teams make their cuts to their 53-man rosters?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Running back, yes. Cornerback, not as sure. Arizona should be an attractive destination for a running back following roster cuts. Beanie Wells' history with injuries could convince a veteran back that he'll get a shot at extensive playing time.
Mike, you think Beanie will be able to carry a large role all year? And with the addition of Kevin Kolb, will the Cardinals go more to the pass this year?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I've been a glass-half-full guy on Wells to this point in his career, but to stick with the analogy, I'm getting thirsty. Time to take a drink here pretty soon. Wells needs to produce and I'm less confident in his production now than when he was making clear strides as a rookie in 2009. The Cardinals should seek more balance on offense this year, but Kolb likes spreading the field. The team spent a ton of money on Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald. They're going to throw the ball a lot.
Sando, if the Seahawks keep Golden Tatek, who do they cut? Doug Baldwin, Ricardo Lockette, Kris Durham or one of the defensive backs?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Lockette would be the one to go. The question would be whether another team would claim him off waivers. Lockette isn't really ready to contribute in games right now. Needs seasoning.
Karl (Spokane, WA)
I've seen some speculation about Lofa Tatupu returning to the Hawks. Is there any chance of this happening? If so, what will be his role, backup or starter?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I haven't seen that speculation and question whether the parties would want to go down that road again. Seattle might wind up cutting him again at some point in the not-too-distant future. However, Tatupu's price would only be descending. This is a situation where Tatupu returning would make sense, but would pride get in the way?
Quinn (Holtwood PA)
Do you believe the Seahawks will find continuity on the offensive line and be able to provide enough protection for T-Jack to pass effectively while also having decent run blocking?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
They'll be better than they've shown to this point, but I'm just not sold on Russell Okung's ability to stay healthy or the readiness of the right side in pass protection. Robert Gallery hasn't looked as good as I would have expected, either. The veteran reporter in me says to discount preseason. I think that's easier to do when watching a more established team. Right now, we have nothing but preseason to go on when looking at the Seahawks' offensive line. It's weaker than I anticipated.
john fuller (ks)
Its obvious the 49ers' offensive line is not playing well just like last season? Why didn't they bring in any free agents to compete?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Because they have committed themselves to the position through the draft. They have first-round money tied up in three of their five starters. They did bring in a veteran center after losing David Baas to the New York Giants. I don't think the veteran free-agent route was all that available. This team has made its best on the offensive line through the draft.
Over the last five years, have any teams spent more first and second round picks than the 49ers on offensive lineman? And, have any offensive lines played consistently worse than the 49ers in that same period of time? What gives?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
You're asking the right guy. My draft spreadsheet was open when you asked this question. I was thrilled to be able to use it. San Francisco and Indianapolis have used the most first- and second-round picks for offensive linemen over the last five drafts, each with four. But the 49ers used three first-rounders on the position during that time, while the Colts used three second-rounders. The 49ers are the only team in the league to use more than two first-round picks on offensive linemen in the last five drafts. Tennessee and San Diego have used no first- or second-round picks on offensive linemen over the last five drafts. They are the only teams to have used none.
Sando -- I have a hawkram9ercard quesiton for you. Do you see light at the end of the NFC West "weakest division" problem? Are we three years off? Five? Keep dreaming?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Great search optimization there, Jeff. For those wondering what I mean, last week I revealed one of the ways I search for questions during the chat. I will search for "hawk" or "card" or "ram" or "9er" when looking for team-specific questions, as I like to have a sampling from each team. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel in the NFC West, but it's contingent on San Francisco and Seattle resolving their quarterback situations favorably in the offseason.
Alex (San Diego)
Do you think Jim Harbaugh is keeping his offense close to his chest during the preseason, so when the regular season starts, teams won't know how to game plan for the 49ers?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Yes, Jim Harbaugh very much strikes me as someone wanting to do that. He seems very secretive. We know he's ultra-competitive. We know he faces old rival Pete Carroll in Week 1, and it would just be human nature for Harbaugh to want to show up an old rival (or, perhaps more accurately, it would be human nature for Harbaugh to do everything in his power to avoid the reverse -- Carroll showing up the 49ers). We have seen the 49ers and Seahawks throw their young lines to the wolves during preseason. The 49ers should be ahead of the Seahawks in dealing with the protection issues. But they are also breaking a new offense, so there is an adjustment period.
I see the corners of the 49ers and I feel that they did not give the importance to strengthen that position, how do you see it?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
That is a fair criticism of the 49ers based on their approach to the position this offseason. They have made efforts to improve at safety, but if they struggle at corner, lots of fans will take a told-you-so approach, with some justification.
Do the 49ers have a decent shot at winning this division?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
It's getting harder given improved quarterback situations in St. Louis (Sam Bradford with some seasoning) and Arizona (Kevin Kolb being better than what the team had last season). It is possible Alex Smith will improve under Jim Harbaugh's watch. It is possible the other teams in the division will not be as good as anticipated.
Could we see anoher Seahawks surprise season from this Pete Carroll team?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yeah, we could see a surprise. The team is really easy to rip right now with the offensive line struggling in protection and Tarvaris Jackson having basically no shot. This team will be easy to underrate all season. I do think the Seahawks will have a hard time improving on their 2010 record, however, and it's unlikely 7-9 will be good enough to win the division again.
I read recently that Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner may overtake Walter Thurmond as the second corner, with Thurmond playing in the slot primarily. I thought Thurmond would be a starter. Is this is a function of height, Thurmond's lack of preparedness (due to injury) or Browner's better-than-expected play?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Which cornerback shifts inside on passing downs often has to do with that corner's physical makeup. You want a different type corner on the inside. I think Browner's surprising development and Thurmond's occasional unavailability would be the primary factors if that were to happen. Thurmond looks very good athletically, though. I think he's going to play a lot.
Who will be the surprise over performer this season from each team? (I'm gonna try the hawkram9ercard route...haha)
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Hey, that worked for you too! Let's go with Leon Washington in Seattle, Daryl Washington in Arizona, NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco and Brandon Gibson in St. Louis. Gibson actually started 12 games and had 53 catches last season, and Leon Washington was a force in the return game, so I would not put these four in the same category as far as where they stand in their careers. But each has an opportunity to step forward this season, and each has shown signs of doing that.
B (Glendale AZ)
Sando, with the acquisitions of Todd Heap, Jeff King and Rob Housler, do you think we'll see the Cardinals run more 2TE sets in passing situations? This typically is not their MO. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Beanie Wells has often been more effective running from "12" personnel with one back and two tight ends. Ken Whisenhunt is aware of this. We've also seen the Cardinals subtract Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston over the last couple years, while adding viable tight ends. So the thinking is logical. But Kevin Kolb also likes the four-receiver offense, so we're going to see that too. The Cardinals could become less predictable.
Are the 9ers breathing easy now that they signed Gore to an extension?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
They're happy to have that situation behind them, but they are no better on paper now than they were a week ago. Gore was on the team then. He is on the team now. "Breathing easy" would be too strong a term given how the 49ers have played in preseason while learning this new offense.
When did John Carlson receive his shoulder injury? Was it during the San Diego game or during practice?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
During practice a couple weeks ago, diving for a ball.
If T-Jack isn't producing, how long do you think Seattle will start him until they give Charlie a chance to start?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
That would depend on to what degree Jackson were responsible. I don't think the team will have a quick hook with Jackson. Jackson would have to be pretty bad for the team to make that change in the first few weeks, I would think.
With Rams signing Clayton, who are they going to cut from the WR ranks? Thinking that Danario Alexander, being injury prone, would be one. Thoughts as to others? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
You're welcome. Mark Clayton is on the physically unable to perform list. He could conceivably remain on that list for the first six games. That is the route I would take if I were the Rams. Clayton could then continue to rehab while attending meetings, getting up to speed overall and basically doing everything but on-field work. Leaving Clayton on PUP would allow the team to carry another receiver during the early part of the season. Injuries and performance-related factors could run their course during that time, giving the Rams the information they need -- and might not have at present -- to make the best decision.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
Do you really buy into the competition being open at the RT spot in Seattle? The staff already admitted that they did absolutely nothing to help Carpenter out at all during the preseason games. What's your take Sando?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
James Carpenter is going to be the starter there, most likely, but they want to have Breno Giacomini as ready as possible in case he needs to play. I think there's a realization Carpenter reported to camp out of shape, for one, and that the lockout is making it tougher for some of these young player, even high picks, to start right away. Patrick Peterson hasn't been starting in Arizona yet and he was drafted much earlier than Carpenter was drafted. Same goes for Aldon Smith in San Francisco and Robert Quinn in St. Louis. Carpenter was a junior-college transfer, too, so he needs seasoning.
Norm (Surprise, Az)
How do you see Adrian Wilson playing out this year with the bicep injury?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
If anyone could do it, Wilson would be the one. He's tough. But from a purely non-medical perspective, I just think it'll be tough to hold up all year with a torn biceps tendon. And if that thing tears completely near the elbow, I don't see how he could play, based on my conversations with ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell.
Bryan M (San Jose, CA)
Will the NFC West Winner have a better record than 7-9 this year?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Yeah, I think we'll have an 8-8 winner this year, but who knows? Lots of football to play.
Is it safe to say that Braylon Edwards avoids any game suspensions?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
No, I would not say that yet. He pleaded guilty. We could hear something this weekend.
The 49ers' offensive Line has the talent, but they are under-perforoming. Is line coach Mike Solari on the hot seat?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Doubt it at this early stage, but so far this division hasn't gotten the anticipated returns from some highly respected line coaches. Alex Gibbs, Tom Cable, Solari and Russ Grimm all have terrific credentials. Gibbs wasn't around long enough to factor. Cable hasn't been in Seattle long enough for us to evaluate anything about his approach.
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. My pleasure as always.