Thanks to those who dropped by the latest NFC West chat. The offseason mindset has arrived for some teams, leading to broader questions. Full transcript here. Highlights below:
Tre (Florida) : The Cards are in, the rest of us are done. So I'm not going to talk about the current season. Let's talk off-season. Do you think the 49ers have a legit chance at prying Oshiomogho Atogwe from the Rams? Also, I think this is the draft to trade down for extra picks with all of the talent. Thoughts?
Mike Sando: Oshiomogho Atogwe should be available in free agency as long as the labor situation allows him to become unrestricted. The Rams likely would not break the bank for a good-but-not-special safety. I do not think the 49ers will be big spenders for Atogwe's services, either. They have been focusing on building through the draft and taking care of their own guys.
OMAR (BALTIMORE, MARYLAND): Having watched every snap of the Alex Smith '09 season, there's definitely some promise and I think he doesn't get enough credit for doing a decent job. That being said, I think Sam Bradford is easily the best QB in the upcoming draft class and don't think he'll make it past the Niners' picks. Do you think Bradford is too good for the Niners to pass on should he fall that far despite o-line problems?
Mike Sando: The 49ers should absolutely consider taking Bradford if available, based on what scouts have told me about him. The 49ers do need options at the position. Good teams can find offensive linemen after the first round. The 49ers do need help for their offensive line, but they also have to recognize value when value is there. They did that in selecting Michael Crabtree (even though it set back their line). I would expect them to do it again with Bradford if they also thought he were a very good pro QB prospect.
Demitri (Redmond, WA): Tim Ruskell was known as a defensive talent evaluator. For our new GM, should we be looking for a more offensive talent evaluator since that was the gaping hole in the Ruskell draft era (sans Unger)?
Mike Sando: Ruskell seemed to pay more attention to how players fit on defense than how they fit on offense. I think that is a fair criticism of him. Deion Branch comes to mind. Julius Jones might be another example. The next GM needs to have more of a proven record building on both sides of the ball. Seattle pretty much took Rich McKay's advice in identifying Ruskell as a candidate. Ruskell did some good things. I think his addition played a key role in getting the team to the Super Bowl. But when you look at that Tampa personnel tree now, you see McKay toiling in obscurity, Jerry Angelo struggling in Chicago and Ruskell resigning during the season.
Adam (Atlanta): Do you think the Cardinals organization is really past its cheap, penny-pinching days of the past? Or do you think we'll see the real Bill Bidwill show up again with all of the impending contracts that need re-upping?
Mike Sando: The organization has spent some more money and I think it's clear the new stadium has played a role in that. The team is shelling out huge money for Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson. A totally cheap owner would have let Dansby walk and waited to franchise Wilson. I think the Bidwills have earned some credit for making some of those moves. I also think your question has some merit. Let's see what they do with Ken Whisenhunt, the coaching staff and some of those key veteran players.
As I mentioned in concluding the chat, Happy New Year to all.