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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Chat wrap: NFC West coaching hot seat

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The latest NFC West chat touched on the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line and Steven Jackson's expected return to the St. Louis Rams. There was also a question about Matt Hasselbeck's departure from the Seattle Seahawks in light of how well things are going for Hasselbeck in Tennessee.

This chat was light on Arizona Cardinals conversation, so I've pulled out a Cardinals-related question that went unanswered during the chat. I'll answer that one here and then revisit answers from questions regarding the other teams in the division.
Bert from Tempe agrees with Matt Williamson's assertion that the Cardinals are basically a six-win team that could fare better against the current schedule. Bert wants to know how warm Ken Whisenhunt's seat might get if the Cardinals suffered through another season with double-digit defeats.

Mike Sando: First off, the schedule sets up in a manner that gives the Cardinals a decent shot at reaching .500, but that will be tougher given where the defense stands. I think Whisenhunt's fate is largely tied to how well Kolb performs. A down season in 2011 would be easier to withstand if Kolb proved he were the long-term quarterback. Whisenhunt's deal runs through the 2013 season, with a team option for 2014. We're a ways away from anyone being on a hot seat. Everyone should know the defense will need time and pass-rush talent. Whisenhunt should be fine as long as he's right on Kolb. If Kolb were to flame out, the seat would get warm pretty quickly.

Eric from Mesa, Ariz., wants to know whether the 49ers could improve their offensive line by tapping the veteran free-agent market.

Mike Sando: The 49ers have cast their lot with the current group. They would be better at this point if the group had worked together through the offseason. Right now, though, they are learning yet another offense, this time on the fly. It's fair to raise serious questions about Chilo Rachal's ability to become a consistent pro. The other guys need to play together. Bringing in another player would disrupt more than it would upgrade.

Jared from Montana thinks Leon Washington fits the Seahawks' blocking scheme well enough to command more carries. He wonders why Washington isn't getting more touches.

Mike Sando: You raise a good rhetorical question. I'd think Seattle could benefit from going up-tempo a little more, mixing in the no-huddle and keeping Washington on the field for quick-hitting draw plays in addition to the runs you described. Washington told me over the summer that he loved the way Tom Cable was teaching the backs to play off the linemen.

Ken from Anaheim asks whether he should write off the Rams after their 0-3 start.

Mike Sando: Wait to see what happens over the second half of the season. The Rams' schedule improves quite a bit at that time. All the division games are Week 9 or later. The Rams need to get healthier and consider making a trade for a cornerback or receiver (Mark Clayton's return could help too). The key will be stealing a couple victories before midseason, then regrouping and finishing strong against easier (in theory) competition.

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