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 (12:56 PM)
Greetings. We'll get this thing started soon.
Which Cardinal will emerge as the 2nd best WR on the team?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
Michael Floyd is the choice there. The Cardinals are very happy with him. Floyd is going to start opposite Larry Fitzgerald in two-receiver personnel groupings. And because is will not be a two-back team, they are going to have at least two wideouts on the field a very high percentage of the time. Carson Palmer has specifically lauded Floyd's smarts, maturity, ability to win jump balls and innate feel for beating zone coverage.
Is Chris Givens going to be better than many people think and emerge as a quality WR this year?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
People are getting wise to Chris Givens. They should not be surprised if they are paying attention. There is still some uncertainty surrounding the other receivers on the team, but we've seen enough from Givens to know he is going to play and produce.
What do you think worries the Seahawks this year (if anything)? If they don't win the West, what would have caused it?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
Injuries are probably the top concern. They are what could affect the division race. There are other good teams in the NFC West, however, so there is no shame in finishing second.
Really rooting for the Cards this year... put $100 down and if Palmer wins MVP it pays out $100,000
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
That is $100 you are not going to see, but if you figure QBs win the award a high percentage of the time, hey, Palmer is one of those!
Is D. Richardson going to be the starting RB for the Rams? What type of production do you think we could see from him?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
I do think Daryl Richardson will be the starter. Isaiah Pead is suspended for the first game anyway. I was thinking we might have heard more from Zac Stacy to this point. It is early, though.
What are your take on the Niners CB situation? Will they be ok with the loss of Goldson and now Culliver?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Cornerback is a relative weakness on the team. The 49ers will be counting on their front seven to make life easier on the back end. That said, Eric Reid was a first-round talent. He could grow into the free safety role quickly. We do not know yet.
None of the niners WR stepped up for the 2nd WR starting job. I think the struggle of the backup QB/Line had a lot to do with that. when its all said and done, who gets the starts across from Boldin?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
My guess would be Kyle Williams or A.J. Jenkins, but Jenkins has to prove it. I'm not really buying into the idea that Jenkins is about to get cut. Now, he needs to show more as the 49ers play their remaining preseason games.
With Kendall Hunter back healthy will we see packages with him and LaMichael James both on the field?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
The 49ers would be the type of team to figure out how to make that work. I suppose the situation at wide receiver could encourage unconventional. In general, though, only one guy can carry the ball on a play, and teams usually want the other guy to threaten defenses in another way, and usually the second running back will not threaten defenses as much as someone at another position. That is why you rarely see two halfbacks on the field at the same time.
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Sando, In the preseason, why not go for it every 4th down? Coaches are way too conservative as it is. .... Actually, why not do that in the regular season also?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I suppose they are trying to simulate how things will go during the regular season.
Let's see if I can get a birthday question up! Do you think Anthony Dixon would be a quality starter? I feel like he has a Gore type feel to him. He has just never had the chance to not be way down on the depth chart because we want change of pace backs. There has to be a reason he stuck to the 49ers this long right?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Special teams and versatility are the reasons. He can help the team in a halfback/fullback capacity, and he is a core special-teams player.
Aaron (Des Moines, IA)
What's your take on all the injuries so far this preseason? Does it seem like there are more this year than in years past or is it being blown out of proportion? Do you think preseason should be shortened? Thanks, Mike!
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I think there's not enough context to make sense of the injuries. It's really easy to come up with theories such as players having too much down time in the offseason or players getting too big and fast for their ligaments, but every player is different. Every circumstance is different. The vast majority of players do not suffer serious ACL-type injuries.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do you think this is finally the year the 49ers reduce the number of carries for Gore during the regualr season i hopes that he deosnt' wear down in the postseason? Seem slike every year we expect him to fall off the shelf and he keeps producing...
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
My perception is that the 49ers have already done that, but in looking at his per-game stats, his rushing attempts per game has gone like this: 16.1 in 2012, 17.6 in 2011, 18.5 in 2010, 16.4 in 2009, 17.1 in 2008, 17.3 in 2007 and 19.5 in 2006. There has been some decline under Jim Harbaugh in relation to the 2010 season under Mike Singletary. We should also note that Gore's receptions per game has fallen sharpy. He was at 1.8 per game last season and 1.1 per game in 2011. That was down from between 3.1 and 4.2 per season from 2006-2010. So his total touches are down. They've drafted a ton of backs and realize Gore is nearing the end even though Gore has not really slowed down. I know Gore has warmed to some of the read-option stuff because it keeps defenders off him.
Is Mathieu being overhyped? I'm a Cardinals fan and after watching the game, I thought the display was alright but not a spectacular game. Are people overhyping him based on his name and because they want a player to talk about?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Tyrann Mathieu does have notoriety, so there is some overhyping based on that. However, he also was seen as a first-round talent who slid to the third round. I think he's legitimate.
Sean (Baltimore, MD)
Who's more likely to have a sophmore slump- Griffin, Luck, Kaepernick, or Wilson?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
I don't know if there is anything about being a "sophomore" that causes someone to slump. I have the most questions about Robert Griffin III because he's coming off the injury and because his team has been hamstrung by cap penalties and because I'm not sure the offense he ran was as sustainable. I do think it's interesting that Andrew Luck was trending negatively late in the season while Russell Wilson was trending very positively. What does that mean? Luck has a new offense, so that affects things. Colin Kaepernick (second-year starter but third-year player) was pretty solid all the way through.
Rob Housler finally break out with Arians and Palmer in town?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Rob Housler led NFC West tight ends in receptions last season (how's that for some trivia?). I do think Housler will have a good year as a receiver. I base that on what I've seen from him and what the Cardinals think of him.
What do you make of the AJ Jenkins situation? If he's not contributing and low on the depth chart, it makes an interesting numbers game considering the need for the bubble WRs to play Special Teams.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
The 49ers got relatively few special-teams snaps from their wide receivers last season. I think it is a consideration but not the compelling consideration when it comes to Jenkins.
Also keep in mind that when Manningham comes back, another WR gets waived. More than likely, it's a special teams WR so they may need two of those guys.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Ted Ginn Jr. played less than 20 percent of the special-teams snaps last season. Kyle Williams was second among receivers at about seven percent. These snaps were as returners. The other receivers didn't really factor on special teams. Again, it's a factor, but not the factor.
Keeping in mind what you said about Carson Palmer being good for three more wins for the Cardinals and the way the first team offense looked against the first team Packers defense during the first pre-season game, is it safe to say that the Cardinals may challenge for a playoff spot this year?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I don't think it is safe to say that given the nature of the division. I wouldn't read a ton into the brief preseason appearance by the first-team offense. I would say the Cardinals are improved at quarterback and that will make them competitive. I could see them being a lot closer to .500 for the season (remember, they were 1-11 to finish last season).
Tom denver [via mobile]
What have you been hearing about the rams rookie safety (McDonald)? Think he's an upgrade? As a rams fan safety is number one concern for me (defensively speaking) at this point.
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
There was supposed to be some competition in camp, but it sounds like T.J. McDonald is running largely unopposed. My sense is that Alec Ogletree's coverage skills could come into play in the Rams' thinking regarding their safeties. The position does seem a little concerning, but look at what some other teams are doing in the division. Arizona turned over its safety position. San Francisco let Dashon Goldson walk. I'd also say it's a concern for the Rams but if they can rush the passer as expected, that will help the back end.
Haven't heard much about Chris Clemons lately. Do you think he will be back in time for season opener?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Pete Carroll has hinted at that, but I'll believe it when I see it. They are going to have some tough roster decisions at the reduction to 53 players. They could buy some flexibility by putting Clemons on the reserve/PUP list under the thought that the extra time would serve him well longer term. I think Carroll is naturally optimistic, so like I said, I'll believe it when I see it on Clemons.
Have you noticed any improvements in RW's game from last year so far in the camps? He didn't look very good in the game against Chargers
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Wilson has shown a little more willingness to take the checkdown when it's a viable alternative. We really did not get to see a ton of him during the exhibition opener. He moved very well. He needed an assist from the rookie tight end on one of those passes.
With Golden Tate being in a contract year do you think he goes off this year ? With Harvin out he is sure to get more touches , is a line of 70 1200 10 reasonable ?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
The Seahawks thought Harvin's addition was going to make life easier for Tate in terms of the matchups Tate was going to get. The tradeoff without Harvin is that Tate figures to get more targets overall. I expect his numbers to spike. This should make for a good separate blog post. If you projected his pace from Weeks 8-17 over a full season, he would be at 57 receptions for 883 yards and seven touchdowns. That is not close to the numbers you listed.
If You were going down a dark alley past midnight which three NFC West players would you take with you ?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Love the question. My guys would be Breno Giacomini, Patrick Willis and Harvey Dahl. That is off the top of my head. Mike Iupati comes to mind as well. Oh, and maybe Anquan Boldin and Kam Chancellor as backup.
Justin Chicago [via mobile]
I hear a good deal of debate about Tavon Austin's durability moving forward. I agree that taking big hits all over the field won't work for someone of his stature. That being said, if I'm gonna have a 175 lb nfl player I'd rather him be short (like Austin) rather then lanky (like DeSean Jackson was coming out of college). Less area to hit, more densely built, ect... You agree? You think austin can hold up for a full season?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Tavon Austin didn't have a durability problem in college. That is one consideration. Austin has said he will not try to be a hero, so to speak. He's going to be smart about those things. I'd be a little worried about him holding up in this division, but not worried enough to scare me away from drafting him.
Hey Sando, great blog. Now that there has been a little time since the change to facebook, How do you like it? I noticed that you are personally replying to the commenters yourself. Is that because you are trying to generate interest?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I've always been an active participant in the comments. You probably didn't notice as much in the past because there were so many comments. It was really impossible to follow the conversation. This is much easier to manage. What I'd like to see is continued growth in the number of comments and quality of conversation.
After watching Tyrann play in his first ever NFL game and understanding that he was completely out of football last year; I was impressed by his display in the GB game last week. He seemed to be around every play on his way to a pass break up, QB sack and 24 yd punt return. I believe the hype train is just getting started on this kid if he can keep it up and don't understand how anyone could have watched the same game I did and not come away impressed. Has instant gratification and Madden NFL destroyed reality for the average football fan? :)
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Much to be excited about, Brian. I don't think being hyped means being overhyped. The Cardinals are legitimately excited about Mathieu and there was much to like about that first performance. Remember, the concerns were off the field. As long as those issues remain non-issues, the Cardinals should get great return on the investment.
the cowboy (niners)
Why wouldn't you pick me?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Dangit, I'd definitely want Justin Smith on that list of guys to take with you into a dark alley. No shortage of them to choose from!
Disclaimer: The following is not a comparison of Colin Kaepernick and Tom Brady. Re: 49ers receivers. Look at the Patriots. They never had a running game like the 49ers do, had great TEs (at least recently), and usually no star game changing WR (could argue Welker). But they were always successful. The Niners have best OL, great running backs, great TE, and at least 1 high quality WR in Boldin. Am I crazy to think the whole #2 WR position is being extremely overblown!
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
That context is very helpful to keep in mind. I think Colin Kaepernick benefits from all those things. So did Alex Smith. It is one reason the 49ers have been so successful on early downs. If I were to critique their QB play, I would point to third down. Kaepernick has made some great third-down runs, but the third-down pass offense needs improvement.
Sando do you watch the Real Rob Report?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I do. Heard there was a new one. Have not watched it yet. Mike Robinson is great to deal with and does a good job with those videos.
highpriest333 [via mobile]
Kobe says a new technique was used to fix his Achilles, was the same technique used on Crabtree?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I don't know exactly what procedure Kobe Bryant underwent, but my understanding is that the methods used nowadays allow elite athletes to recover more fully and more quickly. The assumption here is that Crabtree underwent that version.
There's been a lot of hype/excitement about the Rams' offense, but, aside from the O-Line, I'm not sure what is necessarily "better." Rather, it seems that there are just a lot of new or potential breakout candidates on the offense. With that said, fill in the blank: If the Rams offense doesn't meet expectations this year, it will be because of [blank]
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Lots of untapped potential. It's exciting, but also tough to forecast or rely upon in the short term. This season could be an adventure for the Rams' offense -- one the team is very excited about.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Heads up: I need to pull away a few minutes early this week. Thanks for dropping by the chat. See you on the NFC West blog.