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Friday, April 10, 2009
Mailbag: Can Browns help 49ers improve?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bronson from Montana writes: I've heard the Browns say that they are up to trading pretty much everyone on their roster. Considering that Shaun Rogers wants out, what do you think about the Niners making a move for him? I think this would be a big upgrade for our 3-4 scheme that will actually be a 3-4. Didn't they give up a middle to late rounds pick for him last offseason? Thanks again Mike!!

Mike Sando: Rogers wanted out of Detroit and now he wants out of Cleveland. I'm sensing a pattern here. We can pick apart the Lions in a lot of ways, but their head coach at the time, Rod Marinelli, has been one of the top defensive line coaches in the league for years. Red flags should go up when a top defensive line coach trades a talented defensive lineman.

If I were the 49ers, I wouldn't give up much for a 30-year-old defensive lineman with a history of weight problems, injuries and wanting to be traded.


Mr. Pickles from parts unknown writes: Hey Sando, what are your thoughts on the 49ers going after Braylon Edwards? He'd give them a receiver with true #1 potential, and would have to help spread the field more for Frank Gore. Do the 49ers have the pieces to make it happen, and if you're the GM, do you go for it?

Mike Sando: Can the Browns afford to move Edwards now that Donte Stallworth is looking at a potential prison sentence? Is it a good sign for the 49ers when multiple fans think raiding the 4-12 Browns can help upgrade the roster?

In all seriousness, Edwards would upgrade the 49ers' offense, no question. Seems to me the 49ers are emphasizing building through the draft, not trading away picks.


Angel from Moreno Valley writes: Hey Mike I know many are sold on the Rams taking an OT with the second pick, either J. Smith or Monroe (more than likely J. Smith) but I do believe there is a legit argument as to why they should pass on an OT like J. Smith and take the best player in the draft, Curry.

First of all, in regards to J. Smith he doesn't have much experience at LT and he played in an offense that didn't ask him to do the kinds of things he'll have to do in the pros. Have you noticed how much the QB scrambles in J. Smith's highlights? I think that's something to pay attention to when breaking down his performance at Baylor.

I don't think his great combine performance makes him the best LT in the draft. One big reason for me is there is depth at OT in this year's draft and there is not much of a drop off from Smith, Monroe and an OT the Rams could take in the second round (because their second-round pick is so high).

Also, I hope Alex Barron will play LT because I believe he is better there than at RT; coming out of college he was rated as one of the top LTs and he only gave up around three sacks when filling in for Pace a couple years ago. My biggest thing is that neither Monroe or J. Smith are the next Jake Long so why take them with the second overall pick?

I hope in the first round they take the dominant player in Curry, hope William Beatty falls and pick him to play RT in the 2nd round, and then in the third take a tall receiver in Ramses Barden. I would really appreciate your comments on how you feel about all this. Thanks!

Mike Sando: Thanks for the thoughtful breakdown. The question becomes whether a run on tackles could leave the Rams hoping the seventh-best tackle can start for them. Is that much of a gamble? Is it a risk worth taking?

This is a tough year for the Rams to be picking second overall. If I were them, I would much rather have, say, the 10th pick and the 20th pick.

Barron is a talented player who has lacked focus and consistency. He is playing for a new contract this year, so perhaps that will help the Rams get more from him. The scenario you painted is, at worst, defensible. I'm just not sure I would want to bank on Alex Barron and the 33rd player chosen in the draft to fix the offensive line.


David from Dayton, Ohio writes: Hey, Mike I know alot of teams are saying Percy Harvin is not a top 10 pick probably due to being injury prone. My question is with the Niners sitting at 10 ... do you think there is any possibility the 49ers grab Harvin if Crabtree and Maclin are not around? Harvin has been a beast in college and can play both WR and RB, which would fill 2 roles the niners could use to boost offense production. Also, he could provide help on special teams if Rossum has any trouble.

Mike Sando: The scouting reports on Harvin suggest he might be a bit of a risk to take that early. Maclin intrigues me as a potential deep threat for the 49ers or even the Seahawks.


Michael from Salem, Ore., writes: I noticed there are just enough questions from Cardinals fans (I'm wondering if some of the bandwagon fans are moving on).

One question, one comment/question. Do have any idea what the Cards think of NT Gabe Watson? Why does it seem like so many fans want the Cards to draft TE Brandon Pettigrew? I realize their TE's all have some injury issues and none have been particularly amazing. But I do believe that they all still have potential, especially Ben Patrick. There are much bigger needs than another TE (such as OLB/RB), especially when WR is their strength already. Your thoughts? Thanks for your work.

Mike Sando: Seahawks and 49ers fans have been vocal here almost from the beginning. The Cardinals fans came along as the team showed improvement. Rams fans have remained fairly quiet.

The Cardinals told us what they thought about Watson when they assigned a second-round restricted tender to him. The tender valued him at $1.545 million if he stayed on the Cardinals and as a second-round choice if Arizona failed to match an offer from another team. That level seemed high enough to dissuade other teams from signing him, but low enough for the Cardinals to carry him as a backup if he did not emerge as a starter.

I agree with you on the tight end issue. Yes, the Cardinals could use one, but they should not necessarily take one in the first round. On the other hand, a strong blocking tight end would upgrade the offensive line and the running game. I just don't think you take a tight end early unless he's a very good receiver.


Doug from Yelm, Wash., writes: If you were a betting man, how would you rate each team's chances to win the division? At this point in the season there are a lot of question marks, but given free agency acquisitions and losses, who are the favorites?

Mike Sando: With three new head coaches and seven new coordinators, this is no easy task. The Cardinals should be the favorite, but how well have they handled success when not faced with an elimination game? I don't think they'll go 6-0 in the division again, which means they'll need to fare better outside the division to remain above .500.


Jim from Anchorage writes: Mike, The last couple years (since SBXL) the Seahawks roster has seemed kind of schizophrenic with the tug-of-war between Holmgren and Ruskell. It's hard to argue that the '05 roster wasn't primarily Holmgrens guys. Since then under Ruskell's management the team has had a declining record every year since, with this last year epitomizing the problem. Do you think they get rid of Ruskell if the team doesn't turn it around this year, or do you think he has a couple of years to get right with his own players?

Mike Sando: Another 4-12 season could conceivably put Ruskell at risk because the team certainly isn't going to fire Jim Mora after one year. At the same time, Holmgren's departure should bridge any disconnect between head coach and GM. I thought Ruskell and Holmgren generally worked well together even though it was a forced marriage. The Ruskell-Mora pairing is a more natural one. The team shouldn't break it up right away unless absolutely necessary.


LondonHawk from London writes: Mike, I know Mike Holmgren is sitting out this year and really would like more a front office role in future rather than a coaching one. My question is that if Ruskell and the Seahawks struggle this season do you think Paul Allen would consider bringing Mike back in an FO capacity?

I think a single year of struggle isn't enough to get Ruskell sacked, but I think 2 probably would. Do you have any indication of the value that the Seahawks ownership place on Mike Holmgren in an FO capacity? Thanks and keep up the great work! As always the blog reeks with your passion for the game!

Mike Sando: It's tough to go back sometimes. The organization already removed him from that job once. It just seems unlikely the team would do that. Also, having Holmgren around would potentially make life harder for Jim Mora.


Daryl from Alberta, Canada writes: Hey Mike, theres two d-linemen I'm wondering about in your division. What do you think about Gabe Watson and Ray McDonald?

Mike Sando: Both are good enough to start, but not good enough for their teams to stop considering potential upgrades.


Parker from Mesa writes: Hey Sando love the blog, hopefully more Cards fans will start to participate. One question that came to me involves a player that is not in this draft but will be in a future draft. Myron Rolle. He is in a unique situation with the Rhode Scholar award that he won. He has said that he will come back and play football so I guess my quesiton is this, would a team (Cardinals for example) be able to draft Rolle in a later round and own his rights when he does come back? Thanks.

Mike Sando: I think he would go back into the draft if he did not sign with the team that drafted him in 2009. If he did sign, the team would have to pay him to keep his rights.


John from Missouri writes: Hey Mike! I wanna say your doing a great job and how often you leave posts its like your working non stop. I am a long time Ram fan and i was just wondering if you knew if the Rams were going to be able to wear there superbowl jerseys? Thanks Sando keep up the great work!

Mike Sando: Thanks, John. The Rams have indeed been cleared to wear throwback jerseys in 2009.