Brad (Visalia, CA): Good morning Mike. I have a 2 part question about San Francisco's potential head coaching change at the end of the season. What can be read into Jon Gruden meeting with University of Miami officials? Do you think this means he would consider leaving MNF after the season? Next, I agree with you that Gruden should be the top choice based on his history with the franchise and offensive background, but let's say it doesn't work out for whatever reason. Who are some guys you think they should then look at? Would Jim Harbaugh factor into the mix and what pros and cons do you see with him as an NFL head coach? Thanks so much and keep up the good work.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Brad. Coaches like to keep their names in the mix even when they aren't actively looking for jobs. Jon Gruden has nothing to lose by listening. I think he would certainly return to coaching if the right situation came along. If not Gruden, what about Mike Holmgren? He wants to coach. He wants to be more relevant. Front-office guys disappear into the background during the season. I do not think Holmgren would fire Eric Mangini lightly, just to take his job. If Mangini does enough to keep that job in Cleveland, does Holmgren consider looking elsewhere? Would the Browns feel good enough about their situation to allow Holmgren out of his $8 million-a-year deal? I do think Holmgren wants to coach again.
Jamaar (St. Louis, MO): So now that we know Sam Bradford is the rookie of the year, do they go offense or defense in the first round of the draft? I was thinking that the team could really use a quality back-up for Steven Jackson and also going with your idea of treating Bradford like Peyton Manning and surrounding him with weapons. Although I wouldn't be opposed to getting better in the secondary or younger at DT. Do you think LaMichael James would be a good fit for the Rams? Mike Sando: Using a high choice for Steven Jackson's backup is a luxury this team might not be able to afford, although a change-of-pace back would certainly liven up the offense. James is 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, so he would certainly qualify as a change of pace. If the Rams could justify it from a value standpoint -- James would be the best talent available, in other words -- I would not protest too loudly. They also need help at defensive tackle, linebacker and on defense in general. But the top priority, I think, should be to do what it takes to maximize the investment in Bradford. The Rams have shown they can manufacture some things on defense.
J (WA): Alright Mike, you've answered enough 49ers questions for this chat. Let's talk about the team thats going to win this division, the Seahawks. What do you see as the biggest draft needs for this team? QB, DE, OL?
Mike Sando: Wait a minute, if we're talking about the likely division winner, is this the time to talk about the draft? In this division, probably. If the Seahawks could choose a future Pro Bowl player at any position, I would go with quarterback first, then defensive end, then offensive line. The offensive line probably needs the most help, but the value of a franchise quarterback or elite pass-rusher is greater on a one-player basis.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH): Is it possible that Derek Anderson is one of the lower level concerns for the Cardinals? I'm much more concerned with their awful running game and incredibly poor defensive efforts. I'm not saying Anderson has been good, but the other elements have been worse.
Mike Sando: It is very possible. Anderson has reduced turnovers. The team has still found ways to lose. I still think the fastest way to improve would be to upgrade at quarterback. This team needs to score more points. Teams with decent quarterbacks can rally when they fall behind, particularly at home. This team cannot do that without special-teams plays.
Another chat participant asked me to rank NFC West head coaches based on how they've fared this season. That was a fun one.