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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Chat wrap: Too much work for Gore?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The latest NFC West chat has come and gone. The Seattle Seahawks are introducing St. Louis Blues executive Peter McLoughlin as their new president right now. More on that later Thursday. For now, I'll link to the full chat transcipt and pass along some highlights:
Gabe (Bay Area): Do you think that the 49ers might be "over-working" Frank Gore? I know the offense revolves around him, but it looked to me on Monday night that he was getting tired in the fourth quarter. The way Anthony Dixon looked in the preseason and in the game (granted only one carry), do you think they should use him in those short-yardage situations to save Frank later down the road? Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Gabe. They do need to give Gore some rest if they're going to run the ball so much. He also caught seven passes. Lots of touches in that game. I realize why the 49ers keep him on the field. They are better with him, no matter the situation. But when going with such a tough run-oriented approach -- lots of 22 personnel out there with tight formations -- it does make you wonder whether Gore might benefit from some rest. Dixon might need some time to get up to speed on protections, though. The 49ers like to throw deep from heavy personnel in short-yardage situations. Having the the threat of Gore in the backfield helps make that work.

Daryl (Fresno, Calif.): It appeared to me that in the Rams play calling in the second half against the Raiders was horrible. Too timid, I was even calling what they were going to run. When they ran the no huddle the Rams marched right down the field. Do you see the Rams opening it up aka the Colts or will they keep the same ol same ol.

Mike Sando: I'm with you to a point. It's easy to sit here and say the Rams should open it up, but the reality was that Oakland was getting pressure on Sam Bradford and really hitting him. There was one high-low hit that appeared dangerous. The Raiders tagged Bradford in that third quarter. Bradford later threw a pick on a first-and-10 throw early in the fourth quarter. It's not like an aggressive plan would have automatically delivered results. Had Bradford been injured dropping back from a four-receiver set, people might be wondering why the Rams would get away from the run and their best player, Steven Jackson, when the game was still close and Bradford was taking a beating. You can't win if you're a coach, unless you win!

Jonathan (Bellingham, Wa): The Seahawks faithful are calling for Matt Hasselbeck's job in Seattle. Do you think that is a good idea this early in the season? Also, at this point, do you believe it is an argument that Hasselbeck is still the top QB in our weak division. Smith did look sharp late on Monday night.

Mike Sando: Too early. Hasselbeck was on point in the home game. He had some head-scratcher plays at Denver but also could have gotten some help from John Carlson in particular. That missed opportunity down the field stemmed from Carlson taking a by-the-book approach to route running. Hasselbeck made a throw based on what he saw after the snap. Years ago, a player such as Darrell Jackson would have made the same adjustment Hasselbeck made -- not because the play called for it, but because his feel for the game would have dictated it -- and Seattle might have scored a touchdown. That is one small example. I'd stay with Hasselbeck and let him get more work with these receivers in this offense. Two games is not enough unless the quarterback is clueless out there. That is not the case with Hasselbeck.

Chris (Phoenix): Hey Mike! Picking just one question about the Cardinals is way too tough these days because it seems everyone has more questions than answers around here! How about give me one breakout player for the Cards against the Raiders. Thanks for the insight as always!

Mike Sando: You got it. How about Steve Breaston or one of the secondary receivers. You figure Nnamdi Asomugha matches up with Larry Fitzgerald, and Arizona has to go someplace else. On defense, let's go with one of the pass-rushers. Calais Campbell and/or Joey Porter could have some good opportunities based on what I saw from the left side of the Raiders' line in Week 2. James Hall had a good game for the Rams at RDE. Raiders left tackle Langston Walker was actually pretty good. He fared better against Chris Long than I would have expected.

Lots of good questions and comments covering all four teams this week. Thanks much.