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!
There are so many WRs in the running for Seattle. If you had to pick who they keep right now, who would you go with?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Braylon Edwards and probably Ben Obomanu would be the ones I would go with, most likely.
srinivas rao (san jose, ca)
With roster cuts looming, the 49ers look like they are going into the season with 3 offensive tackles, one of whom is also the starting RG. Any chance the 49ers target veteran backup tackles on the waiver wire? With the premium placed on the position, do such players even exist?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
The key is which seven are active on game days. Alex Boone counts as the backup swing tackle even though he's the starting right guard. There is risk in that, but I can't think of anyone else they would move to tackle in a game situation.
Joe C. (Fort Worth)
So the QB situation in AZ is a mess - I'm losing hope for this year, and we haven't even reached the regular season. It just feels too much like the Lienart/Anderson debacle all over again. Neither Kolb nor Skelton have looked particularly good in the preseason, though Skelton has looked "less-awful" than Kolb.During your visit to Cards camp, did you see anything in either QB that can offer a glimmer of hope? More specifically, has either QB looked good during camp? That would at least give me the faint hope that the pre-season performances might be poor reflections of what's to come.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I was there for two days, so I didn't see enough of the practices to have a feel for the entire camp. The 2010 parallels were on my mind. I do think Skelton is probably better than Derek Anderson, though. He has some upside. But to answer your question, no, I haven't seen anything making me think this is a good situation at QB.
So Mike... Now that you have visited all the camps has your opinion changed at all regarding the order of finish in the division?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I emerged from the camps feeling better about elevating Seattle over Arizona as the projected top threat to San Francisco. I thought about moving St. Louis over Arizona, but did not do it. Probably felt about the same on the 49ers, a little better on the Seahawks and Rams, a little worse on the Cardinals.
Do you think that Whiz is being swayed by the tremendous fan support of Skelton?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Not at all.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Mike, how is Janoris Jenkins doing so far with the Rams this preseason? Is he behaving himself? Might he have a shot to make the starting lineup come Week 1 of the regular season?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Jenkins has done well. He's been one of the best players in camp. He will start, yes.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Has Seattle Figured out the RG spot yet or are they still in competition mode to find Moffitt's fill in?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
They are having all sorts of fun getting reps for rookie sixth-round pick J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive tackle. The zone scheme places different demands on players than man schemes. That is one reason Deuce Lutui might not be as good of a fit for the running game, at least. He would probably be their best guy in pass protection at RG, though.
Mike with the 49ers improvement to WR do you see them dramatically increasing the number of passing plays?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
No, not dramatically. They'll still want to have balance. They will strive for balance.
Mike, Thanks for the valuable insight. Any chance that one of the Cardinals QB's surprises and totally steps up. In theory, with the strong defense and special teams the Cards allegedly have, they should be starting with good field position on most drives...like the opening drive against the raiders. a "game manager" should get above average results right? Or am I grasping here?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Thanks, Bill. Expectations have been suppressed to the point where either QB will probably exceed expectations. I do not see a total train wreck of a season for the Cardinals.
Why is there such an urgency around seattle for the Hawks to start Wilson? He obviously has talent and could use time to develop just like Flynn has in Green Bay.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I believe PETE CARROLL GETS EXCITED AND THINKS IN ALL-CAPS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS when he sees a player such as this one. Wilson presses all the known Carroll buttons: dynamic personality, very upbeat, unconventional in nature.
I have not been impressed with the Niners' passing attack so far this preseason. On paper they should be improved. I know its only preseason but I would like momentum going into Green Bay. Should I be worried?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Don't be worried. Be realistic. We're not going to see the Greatest Show on Slippery Candlestick Grass. Just watch to see what happens on third down and in the red zone. That is where the new weapons need to factor.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Is T.O. a lock to make the roster? Is he fighting to make the 53, or is he battling to be a starter or 3rd WR?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Not a lock at all. Probably battling Braylon Edwards for a single roster spot.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
If he wins the job permanently, Wilson has to be the biggest surprise rookie QB to start this year right? Or Tannenhill?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Wilson would be the biggest surprise by definition given his draft status and perceptions that Flynn was a big free-agent signing.
CardsBeliever (SLC UT)
Cardinals fans have been concerned about the O-line for years now, but all we get from the ownership and team sources is the company line. What is the real deal in the organization? Do they still have confidence in Grimm, do they feel that good run blocking is enough?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I'd venture that Grimm remains respected but there are not expectations he'll be able to fix what is wrong with the line. I think they need and have needed fresh talent on the line. Also, it's easier plugging guys into a zone scheme.
What is your prediction for sacks in Seattle after free agency and the draft?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
The team had 33 last season. Over under is 40 now.
Kyle (St. Louis)
Will Kendricks be the starter at TE for the Rams?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I think so. He had that nice TD catch in the preseason game. They like the fact that he can catch and block.
When Bradford stinks it up this year, do the Rams finally admit to themselves that he isn't the future? OU QB's are terrible in the NFL in recent history and I am positive Bradford (and Landry Jones next) will only continue that run...
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
It's a big year for Bradford. I think he's better than you're saying. He has the talent and the intangibles. He's tough.
For each NFC West team, what is their biggest position to be concerned about injury-wise?
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
Love this question. Let's set aside quarterbacks. For the 49ers it would be Justin Smith. For the Cardinals, let's go with Calais Campbell. Then maybe James Laurinaitis for the Rams. For Seattle, let's go with Marshawn Lynch even though they drafted Robert Turbin.
Kris (Atlanta, GA)
What do you think of Jeff Fisher's approach to preseason games compared to other coaches in the league? I like the idea of building up playing time as they move towards the first game.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Depends on the team. New England is in a different position offensively. The Patriots have the quarterback and continuity to ease off the gas pedal in the fourth game. The Rams probably need the work to a greater extent. I don't think there is one blueprint for how to do the preseason.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Mike, going into this season, I have envisioned the 49ers as one of the best teams in the NFL. However, some of the predictions I've heard about them are not as optimistic, and some of them do not think the 49ers will make the playoffs. What do you think may be the reason(s) for people to hold back on their opinion of how the 49ers will do this season?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Yeah, there's a tendency to say a 13-3 team will backpedal some, and that is logical. But it doesn't mean the 49ers will be a bad team. It just means their record might not be as good.
Do you agree that Flynn has been hamstringed with his receivers for the #1 offense since they have been practicing but not in the preseason games? Could he be better then we have seen in the games so far?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Yes, I do think the WR rotation has held back Matt Flynn some. I do get the sense he'll be better in games than in preseason. But I also think people averse to having a rookie start are working hard to find ways to prop up Flynn. Too hard, probably.
Sando you happened to mention that Smith is a point of injury concern for the 49ers however not only has he stayed healthy but the teams starters along the line have only missed a total of 28 starts since he came on in 02. Any reason why you would present that potential this season, maybe you suspect his age will catch up to him?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Justin Smith? The concern I raised was only when asked which players could NFC West teams least afford to lose. It doesn't mean I think he's vulnerable. Smith is about an invulnerable as a lineman his age could be. He is borderline indestructible. Now, as he gets up there in years, sure, you wonder how close he gets to the cliff.
If you scored a touchdown what would be your touchdown celebration? a prop, dance, give the ball to the ref?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I'd be a hand-it-to-the-ref guy. Maybe flip it to him, though. I like the little flip that says the player has some swagger but also has poise and restraint. You know that flip when the scoring guy doesn't slow his pace or really even make more than fleeting eye contact with the official? That is the one I like.
Bryan (Okanogan WA)
Do you think the Hawks will only keep 5 receivers? You listed 5 in one of the first questions answered. I think they'll keep the 5 you listed plus Deon Butler....good in the slot and good speed. Were you just listing the 5 you thought were locks?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I went back and forth on naming a sixth and also thought about Deon Butler. Just wasn't 100 percent convinced.
Bobby Wagner is basically given the starting role at MLB. Have you seen enough from him to give him the starting role?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I did not see it as clearly as the coaches and others saw it. They might have just done a better job of analyzing him.
challettv (Boise, Idaho)
How soon would you predict the Cardinals offer up a draft pick for Tarvaris Jackson? And would he provide a significant enough boost to the Arizona offense for them to finish in the top 15 teams in the conference?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I don't see the Cardinals admitting an error on Kevin Kolb in such a dramatic fashion. Besides, Skelton and Kolb are going to be on the roster, right? They really like Ryan Lindley as the developmental third-string guy.
Everyone is saying that the 49ers defense is not going to be as healthy this year as they were last year. Does any starter on the defense look injury prone to you? Which starter can the team least afford to get hurt?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Nah, no one appears extra injury prone. But we have seen Aldon Smith get nicked up. Ahmad Brooks has missed a little time. Justin Smith is the guy they most need to keep healthy. When people say that about the 49ers, they're saying it in general.
Were you impressed with A.J. Jenkins play on Saturday? I was. I saw him blow by the defense a couple times, but Johnson missed him for touchdowns. I like what I'm seeing in terms of his pure speed.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Yes, liked a couple of the routes he ran and also thought there were opportunities missed that were beyond his control. The feel from 49ers camp was that Jenkins would need time to develop, that he wasn't as pro-ready as some players. Donte Whitner said he saw similarities between Jenkins and Robert Meachem. I thought that was interesting.
Is Kendall Hunter going to surpass Frank Gore in the 49ers backfield? I read Harbaugh is high on Hunter.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I could see that happening before the 2013 season. I'm not predicting it. Just saying it would not surprise me. Frank Gore has some miles on him and is getting up there in age, so it's natural to wonder when he'll hit that wall through injuries or whatever.
Mike, I would disagree on Marshawn being the biggest loss to the Seahawks if he went down. Don't you think Earl Thomas would have a greater overall impact on the team? No one on the roster can touch what he does playing centerfield out there.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
You're on the right track, I'd say. Thomas is probably the best answer from a pure personnel standpoint. But I do think Lynch represents something in the running game that would be impossible to replace. Maybe the offense depends upon Lynch more than the defense depends upon Thomas? I'm not convinced of that, but do think the defense has better talent overall and could, in general, better withstand the loss of a key player. Both are very valuable. Thomas is the better player.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Best bet to make an impact this year from the Rams WR corps - Quick or Steve Smith?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Steve Smith, without much question in my mind, simply because Brian Quick is a rookie and Smith is a veteran.
Mike, just a short time back, the Rams were in position to rise to the top of the division and appeared to be in position to keep going that way. Were the injuries early last season all that caused that collapse or was there something else?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
The injuries were a big part of it. The injuries compounded other issues related to installing a new offense. The schedule was tougher than anticipated. Sam Bradford got hurt just as he appeared to be getting something going in the passing game.
What's the deal with Flynn's sore arm? Is that true or is Russell Wilson just getting most of the reps? Thanks Mikey!
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Good question. I'll look into it.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Haven't heard a lot of hype about Patrick Peterson this preseason...any info? Odds on favorite to be the Pro Bowl PR?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
The Cardinals are so high on him. They think he's going to be a truly great player. I do too. He's the total package in terms of physical talent and dedication. He has the will to be great, by all accounts. Larry Fitzgerald and Ken Whisenhunt gave him their highest endorsements when I was at camp.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. Let's watch some NFC West football tonight.