Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Doug from parts unknown writes: Mr. Sando, I know it's almost too early to think about this, but, how do you forsee Boldin and his contract situation to play out? With the emergence of Breaston, they're already looking at a great trio. On top of that, if (big if as of now, can't predict the future) Doucet turns out to be what the Cards think he can be, they'll be over-loaded with WR's. Weren't many thinking Doucet was going to be a factor this season if it weren't for his pre-season injury? It all leads me to wonder where this leaves Boldin and the Cards. Does there come a time to think about some sort of deal that would bring in players to fill more pressing needs? Again, thanks for a great season of blogging.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Doug, and you're welcome. I don't see the Cardinals relenting easily on Boldin. They own his rights for multiple seasons. They have other priorities this offseason, starting at quarterback and including franchise player Karlos Dansby. Early Doucet would have been more of a factor as a rookie this season if he had stayed healthy, but Steve Breaston's emergence also changed the rotation.
I suppose Boldin could make his situation untenable enough to pressure the Cardinals into doing something. But no one should be able to force the Cardinals into a bad decision.
This situation presents the Cardinals with an opportunity. They need to treat Boldin with respect. They should explain clearly the situation and their reasoning, putting Boldin's situation in the context of other priorities. General manager Rod Graves or president Michael Bidwill could help the situation by shielding coach Ken Whisenhunt from the type of criticism Boldin directed the coach's way in July.
Kalen from Naches, Wash., writes: Of all the people the Seahawks could have hired for their Head Coaching position, why Jim Mora? Why not pick a candidate -- like Jim Schwartz of the Titans, or Steve Spagnuaolo of the Giants for instance -- who actually produce good defenses?
There are many other candidates available this offseason. After reading your post about Mora and Knapp (and how they can only "go up"), they are actually very ordinary. Tim Ruskell needs to go. He is neither innovative nor creative, plus he's arrogant. Oh, and one more thing. When I apply for the GM position in 2010 -- I'm pretty sure there will be an opening -- can I use you as a reference? Cheers!
Mike Sando: Ruskell hired Mora because he liked what he saw from Mora in Atlanta, plain and simple. He wanted someone he trusted and someone he felt shared his vision. The product on the field will determine if he was right.
Jason from San Diego writes: You've made comments about not picking up high priced players from other teams, because it makes you wonder why that team didn't keep them. Can't the same be made for Head Coaches (Jim Mora Jr.) that were fired? There's a reason a team didn't keep a head coach and it just makes me think - how good of a job can Jim Mora Jr. do, especially when he's bringing in all the coaches he had with the team that fired him? Your thoughts.
Mike Sando: The Chargers are going to the divisional round with Norv Turner, who failed elsewhere and nearly failed in San Diego. The Giants are winning with Jacksonville castoff Tom Coughlin. The Patriots hired Bill Belichick after Belichick failed in Cleveland. The Colts hired Tony Dungy after the Bucs fired Dungy.
Hiring the right coach is the key. The right coach might sometimes be a guy who failed elsewhere. He might sometimes be a guy getting his first chance. I would not rule out a coach from consideration just because he ultimately failed in another organization.
Toni from Seattle writes: Mike, i know that there is a lot of speculation about the Hawks #4 pick in the draft this year. Some people want Crabtree others want an O-Linemen and other want a defensive player particularly a pass rusher. i forget if you said or i might have read it elsewhere that a pass rusher would in all accounts be drafted if Kerney isn't healthy and ready to go yet. so i was just wondering do you think that the Hawks would draft Brian Orakpo to fulfill that position if it were to become available? or do you think that he is going to be taken that high, and if so would another team in front of the Hawks take him sooner? i just want to know because he to me can be an immediate impact player. just a thought, thanks and i love your NFC West coverage.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Toni. I must rely on others for analysis of the college players. I do not watch them during the season, for obvious reasons.
One of the scouts I trust told me he didn't see any pass rushers worthy of such a high pick, except for possibly the Wake Forest linebacker. I see the Seahawks going for a playmaker with that pick, as opposed to finding an offensive lineman.
Brandon from Bellevue, Wash., writes: Sando Commando-You need to stop being so nice to people who start trash talking. For instance, in the last mail bag someone stated that you should take some college courses in writing. However, he proceeded to state that he has never written "hate male" before this instance. Come on, Sandster. He was begging you to bring down the hammer. Something like, "I guess this literary connoisseur feels hate to be so masculine that it breaks the boundaries of typically asexual mail and transforms itself into the fearful HATE MALE." After all, you're the Sandman. You don't take %$#$ from nobody.
Mike Sando: Love it, Brandon. I promised myself not to take cheap shots on the people I cover or the people I interact with on the blog. As tempting as such an opening might be, I'm not going to go back on my promise.
Hank from East Bay writes: What do you think about the 49ers and FA's Atogwe and Gross? They seem like excellent options to fill their two biggest holes. Is Gross likely to receive the franchise tag if he doesn't re-sign? Signing both seems like it would allow them to address a lesser need like DT or QB. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Those players would help the 49ers, no question. I can't see Carolina letting Jordan Gross get away. The Panthers put so much into rebuilding their offensive line. As for Oshiomogho Atogwe, the Rams should be able to afford him.
Jesse from parts unknown writes: So Todd McShay says in his first mock draft that the Hawks will go with Aaron Curry of Wake Forest, I really don't see the Hawks letting go of Leroy Hill, and even if D.D. Lewis does go, I think David Hawthorne has proven he can be a good back up.
Also a new mock draft on MSN says the Hawks will take Matt Stafford, I think if we didn't have Seneca that might be possible, but I can't see the Hawks going with him. I am a huge fan of Josh Wilson as a return man and corner, but I think the seco
ndary needs another sizeable defender and Jenkins would be a great complement to Trufant. I really think it's gonna come down to Crabtree or Jenkins. What do you think?
Mike Sando: Taking another cornerback early would seem like overkill. The secondary needs a pass rush more than it needs another corner, in my view. I would lean toward a running back or receiver at this point in my thinking, assuming the dynamic pass-rush prospect isn't available.
Rich from Bayonne, N.J., writes: Hello Mike, I find your blog very insightful and allows me to keep up on my 49er news 3,000 miles away. I was wondering, if Mays or Rashard Johnson are available at 10, should the Niners grab them or do you think Safety is something they should address in later rounds? Also, are there Pass Rushing specialists worthy of the 10 pick this year?
Mike Sando: Thanks, Rich. The scouts I know aren't convinced teams will find that type of pass rusher worthy of a high pick. Our feel for such things will only improve as we gather more information and get closer to the draft. I would have no trouble with the 49ers taking a safety 10th if that player were truly a difference maker.
John from Cedar Grove, N.J., writes: Mike, Where do you see Mike Martz landing when all is said and done? Thanks
Mike Sando: His name hasn't come up publicly in relation to any of the openings, except for reports out of St. Louis suggesting Jim Haslett might consider him for a job with the Rams, if hired. Martz is even campaigning for the job. That tells you he doesn't have lots of options.
Kyle from Modesto, Calif., writes: Hey Mike, First of all, you did a great job covering the NFC West this year. Hopefully you had a great holiday and new year and are ready for this upcoming season. Congrats to the Cards for winning the West this year. My question to you is since I'm a DIEHARD 49er fan and will be to the day I die; How do you think Mike Singletary is going to be as Head Coach of our team and do you really think the Cards stand any sort of chance against the Panthers since I hope they coke like they did before?
Mike Sando: I give the Cardinals an outside chance. I'm rewatching their Week 8 game at Carolina while I type this response. Kurt Warner is getting hit repeatedly.
Singletary impressed by establishing his program and priorities so clearly. That was a good start. He'll need to do more than that to succeed over the long haul. He'll need to hire a top-flight offensive coordinator. Singletary can't make it, in my view, without solid quarterback play and stability at offensive coordinator.
Shane from Tempe writes: Hi Mike. Question for you, farfetched as it might be: Could the Cardinals actually benefit from Anquan Boldin's absence? It seems like Carolina would be more inclined to double up on Larry Fitzgerald if Boldin is out, leaving Steve Breaston with some soft coverage. Breaston caught 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns in the four games Boldin missed this season - and that includes that awful game at New England. It didn't seem as though Arizona's offensive production dropped off much, if at all, when Boldin was absent. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando: The Cardinals are better with Anquan Boldin. However, if Boldin's absence convinces them to mix in more running plays, that would be good for the Cardinals.
Chris from Louisville writes: Tim Hightower for ALL-NFC WEST Team running back! Please bear with me through my explanations. First I will say that Tim Hightower is the all-NFC West team running back. He played in more games then Steven Jackson or Frank Gore. Hightower had more touchdowns then Jackson or Gore.
Tim Hightower may not be the same back that Marion Barber was running behind another starter, but check out the following stats. Tim Hightower scored running touchdowns in 55% of the games Arizona won. Steven Jackson scored running touchdowns in 50% of the games St. Louis won. Frank Gore scored running touchdowns in 42% of the games won by San Francisco. Hightower scored more then 40% more running touchdowns then ether Jackson or Gore. Hightower had 8 games he scored running touchdowns.
Steven Jackson had 5 games he scored running or receiving touchdowns. Frank Gore had 7 games he scored running or receiving touchdowns. Steven Jackson and Tim Hightower had two games they scored multiple running touchdowns. Frank Gore only had one game he scored multiple running touchdowns. Tim Hightower is not exactly 'vulturing' Mike Alstott numbers, but out of a 'dreaded' NFC West, he is the best and most valuable running back to his team. I expect that to be different next year, but this is for 2008.
Mike Sando: I just don't see it. Hightower did not have the yardage.
Jake from Portland writes: Hey Mike, hope you are having fun spending most of your time in Arizona these days. I was wondering if you could tell me how many teams in recent history have started a season 2-7 and finished 7-9 or better. The only other team I could think of is the Titans of a couple years ago. Thanks!
Mike Sando: Since 2001 and before this season, 23 teams opened NFL seasons with a 2-7 record. One finished 2-14. Two finished 3-13. Ten finished 4-12. Five finished 5-11. Three finished 6-10. One finished 7-9. One finished 8-8.