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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Mailbag: McAlister, Garcia, Taylor and more

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ryan from parts unknown writes: Since the Ravens cut Chris McAlister, do you think the Cards will pick him up? He still has some juice left in the tank and we still can use another viable corner i think.

Mike Sando: I might like that move for the Cardinals given that McAlister went to the University of Arizona and he could help mentor Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But the Cardinals would need to feel good about McAlister's knee, which was a problem over the last couple of seasons. If McAlister wanted to finish his career in Arizona -- and I have no idea if he would -- the Cardinals would presumably keep an open mind.


Chris from Miami writes: Hey Mike, I have a few questions. Do you think that the 49ers would make a run J. Peppers this offseason or would you think they might make an attempt at A. Boldin or TJ Houshmandzadeh? If not any of those players, who do you think in FA or Draft would they try to get? Thanks for your time.

Mike Sando: You're welcome. This is the time of year when I wind up playing devil's advocate a bit. People ask questions about how specific free agents or potential free agents might fit with a given team. We get lots of "any chance" questions. Hey, any chance an NFC West team goes after so-and-so? There's always a chance, right?

A few things to possibly consider on the subjects you raised:


Mike from parts unknown: Do you think it would be of any NFC West teams interest to pursue Fred Taylor? It would seem to be more of a luxury than a need for the 49ers and Rams.

Mike Sando: Taylor's age is going to work against him in terms of how he is perceived. We touched on Taylor and the Cardinals on the blog Monday. It's a little tough to project fits when you have all four NFC West teams breaking in new offensive coordinators.


Charlie from Lexington writes: Hey Mike, After reading Sing's comments about getting Garcia, he seems to have alot of faith in Shaun Hill. I quote Sing here, "I'm not sure how much better we get by bring a Jeff Garcia in and adding to the mix when you have a guy like Shaun Hill." So my question is why won't he name Hill the starter?

Mike Sando: Singletary said he wants competition for the job. I think he also realizes the 49ers will be adding one or more quarterbacks from outside the organization. He sees no advantage to naming a starter without knowing which quarterbacks will be on the roster. I agree with Singletary's thinking in not naming the starter too early. He does need to know which quarterbacks are on the roster.


Armonio from Union City writes: Hey Sando! Love the blog! I know the 49ers are looking for anyone that could be a good, rangy/ball-hawking safety. I just read that Chris McAlister of the Ravens was just released.

Do you think if we can get him for a decent price we should convert him to safety? He definitely has the size at 6-2 ft, 210 lbs. Also if we are able to get another good CB (McAllister or Malcolm Jenkins in the Draft) what are the chances of maybe converting Walt Harris to FS? He is starting to lose a step in Man-Man coverage but is definitely a ball hawk. If he could put on 5 to 7 pounds I think he could be a great safety. What do you think about those possible solutions to our FS problem?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Armonio. If the price is right, sure, the 49ers should consider making that type of move.

Chris McAlister is 31 years old and he is presumably looking to finish his career with a team he perceives to be near a championship level. I do not know if he sees himself as a safety at this point. He sounded shocked to be released.

The 49ers have gone the free-agent route heavily in the secondary. In general, I think they need to draft and develop younger players back there. But if they can upgrade the team in free agency without grossly overspending, they should consider that, too.


Patrick from Yuma writes: This time of the year player evaluation is key. We know the owners, general managers, coaches and most of the assistant coaches are in place. Could you give us a rundown and some insight to the scouting departments in the division?

I seem to remember the Cardinals had some major turnover in scouts last year after the draft, which could be big this draft and free agency period. Keep up the great work.

P.S. A month ago I sent you and e-mail asking about how much money the Cardinals organization would make from their playoff run. You did not have the answer, but said you would follow up. I thought is was awesome that you actually did follow up by asking Michael Bidwill at the Super Bowl. Much appreciated!

Mike Sando: No sweat, Patrick. I appreciated the question.

I am presently looking at draft histories for NFC West general managers. We'll have more on the subject as the draft approaches.


Sam from Calabasas writes: Mike, with regard to the following comment in your most recent blog entry, "Teams in this division probably feel better about their chances than outsiders feel about their chances. The 49ers seemed to find this out when they searched for offensive coordinators."

I'm curious if you base this assumption largely on what happened with Scott Linehan turning down the 49ers job? If that's the case, you're suggesting that that "outsiders" (read everyone else, but specifically Linehan) believe the 0 win Lions are better than the 7 win 49ers. Which, I think most would agree, is incorrect.

Mike Sando: The 49ers' excitement over their strong finish created some internal buzz that wasn't heard as loudly outside the organization. Not everyone looks at the team's situation and decides to run through a wall for Mike Singletary, in other words. I did find it potentially telling when Linehan chose the Lions over the 49ers, but I also think Singletary makes a good point when he points to the fit being right with Jimmy Raye. That fit has the potential to help the 49ers even though Raye was the opposite of a hot candidate.


Craig from Tacoma writes: Although you have said the Seahawks will probably not do much in free agency, could a wide body like Dwayne Robertson, just released by Denver, interest them?

Mike Sando: The Seahawks' new defensive line coach, Dan Quinn, was with the Jets in 2007 when the Jets traded Robertson to the Broncos. Quinn would know Robertson better than anyone in the Seattle organization. I do not recall reading about Quinn throwing a fit when the Jets traded Robertson, but neither do I have firsthand knowledge on Quinn's thinking.

I have not met Quinn or spoken with him yet. I do not know what he thinks of Robertson or whether he would view Robertson as a good fit for the team's defense, which is still coming together from a scheme standpoint.


David from parts unknown writes: Any truth to the rumor of Mike Martz going to the Card's as OC?

Mike Sando: No.


Elias from Omaha (via Seattle) writes: Mike, please give us whatever insight you have on the Hawks draft plans. Please tell me they are looking to maybe trade up and get the stud OL from Bama or maybe drop a few slots and go for Jenkins -- just DON'T tell me they are going to roll the dice and go for Crabtree.

Mike Sando: I will tell you the truth. I do not know what the Seahawks are going to do. The draft experts do not know. The Seahawks do not yet know.


Lou from parts unknown writes: Given Mike Singletary's stated desire to be a run-first team and Scot McCloughan's belief in the necessity of a two-back system, what do you think of the Niners using the 10th selection on the top back in the draft, Knowshon Moreno, and instantly establishing one of the league's best backfield combos?

Mike Sando: The 49ers would seem to have other more pressing needs, but if they perceive Moreno to be the best value in that spot, I would take that into account. Value trumps need. I would consider it an upset if it happened, though.


Kevin from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, great blog, thanks for all the great information and insight. Any chance the Seahawks might go after just-released Chris McAlister? He might come cheaper than a first round contract to Malcolm Jenkins. With him opposite Marcus Trufant, it would be a tough for QB's to decide which side to throw to, especially with the rapidly developing and speedy Josh Wilson covering the slot.

Mike Sando: You mentioned the price being right and I think that is key with most of these free agents. My sense is that Seattle wants to improve the pass rush first.


Vijay from San Francisco writes: Hey Mike, I was wondering what you thought about the 49ers possibly signing possible free agent, Jeff Garcia, who is expected to released by Tampa Bay? Bring him back as either a solid starter or possible back up to Shaun Hill. Then the team can possibly use their draft pick wisely on a WR, LB, or OT rather than taking another gamble on an inexperienced QB from the draft like Sanchez or Josh Freeman.

Mike Sando: Singletary seemed to shoot down that idea with the comments he made after you submitted this mailbag question.


Sark from Spokane writes: Hey Mike, What are your thoughts on Seattle maybe picking up Derrick Ward? I'm not sold on Julius Jones, so is he the answer for Seattle's running game or should we pick up somebody from Free Agency? Thanks!

Mike Sando: I'm not expecting the Seahawks to make significant investments in that position. One, the zone scheme puts a premium on how the run game is blocked, allowing lower-priced backs to be effective. Two, the Seahawks are probably higher than you on Jones. They signed him, after all.


Josh from Corona writes: Sando -- I have a couple of quick questions. How does claiming the rights of a player who is waived affect the salary cap? Does the team work out a new deal or leading into my next question for example if the niners claimed Chris McAlister (Ravens CB) would they take the 8 mill salary cap hit or is it reduced? What are the chances of the niners getting Mcallister either by waiver claim or Free Agency? Maybe the niners move him into a FS position.. Thanks!!

Mike Sando: The Ravens terminated McAlister's contract, which means he does not go on waivers. Teams do inherit contracts as-is when they claim players off waivers.