NFC West: 710 ESPN Seattle

Seahawks can clinch at Candlestick

December, 3, 2013
RENTON, Wash. -- Who would have thought it?

In only the 13th game of the season, the Seahawks will go to San Francisco this weekend with a chance to clinch in the NFC West title at Candlestick Park against their bitter rivals. And the 49ers are just trying to stay in the playoff picture.

"This is fun for everybody," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday on his 710 ESPN Seattle radio show. "We've been preparing for this moment the whole time.”

Most fans of both teams thought this game would have title implications, but only the most optimistic Seahawks fans envisioned this game would have a clinch scenario for 11-1 Seattle and title elimination for the 8-4 49ers.

But it won't be easy. Seattle has lost the last four times it has played in San Francisco. And the 49ers feel like they have something to prove after losing 29-3 at Seattle in the second game of the season.

It's extra special for Carroll, who grew up in the Bay Area. This will be the last time he will be involved in a game at Candlestick. The 49ers move to their new stadium in Santa Clara next year.

"It's a big deal for me, growing up there and going to all those games there," Carroll said. "I go all the way back Seals Stadium and Kezar Stadium, so I can't believe [the 49ers] are going to play in Santa Clara."

710ESPN Seattle audio: NFC West Week 17

December, 29, 2011
We're heading into Week 17 with a range of subjects to cover, from a playoff berth in San Francisco to the potential for St. Louis holding the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.

Bob Stelton, Dave Grosby, Paul Moyer and I discussed those things and more in covering every NFC West team during our latest weekly conversation on 710ESPN Seattle.

They've posted the audio.

On the possibility of the Rams holding the No. 1 pick, I advocated trading it away. The team has already drafted and invested millions in Sam Bradford. There is no way to know for certain whether Andrew Luck would be significantly better in the future. Then again, if other teams suspected the Rams weren't going to draft a quarterback first overall, why would another team need to acquire that pick?

710ESPN audio: NFC West Week 14

December, 8, 2011
Matt_Brigham asked via Twitter when Seattle last played a Monday night game at home. The answer was 2007, when the Seahawks scored a 24-0 victory over San Francisco.

That was back when Mike Holmgren was running Seattle's offense and Jim Hostler had taken over for Norv Turner as the 49ers' offensive coordinator.

Dave Wyman, Bob Stelton and I did not discuss that game during our weekly conversation Wednesday on 710ESPN Seattle. I did mention that Seattle's home game against the St. Louis Rams on Monday night would mark the third consecutive week with a prime-time game for an NFC West team.

We discussed that and more, including Kevin Kolb's improved play Sunday. Audio here.

710ESPN audio: NFC West Week 10

November, 10, 2011
Passing along: audio from our latest NFC West discussion on 710 ESPN Seattle.

We discussed the Seattle Seahawks' chances against Baltimore, Frank Gore's ability to play through ankle problems, Kevin Kolb's shaky health status and the St. Louis Rams needing more from their offense.

Meanwhile, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave the only answer he could realistically give when asked whether the team could win with Alex Smith attempting 40 passes in a game. He said yes, but if the 49ers attempt that many passes in a game, it's probably more out of necessity than by design. These situations would be unfavorable ones, by definition, skewing the results compared to those for quarterbacks whose teams attempt more passes by design.

Roman and coach Jim Harbaugh were known for their power running game even when they coached Andrew Luck at Stanford. They want balance.

The 49ers are 1-7 over the years when Smith attempts 40-plus passes. Smith has completed 58.8 percent with 10 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 257-yard average in these games, good for a 78.2 NFL passer rating that is slightly above his 75.2 career rating.

710ESPN audio: NFC West Week 7

October, 21, 2011
Among the subjects covered during my Thursday afternoon conversation with Dave Grosby, Bob Stelton and Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle:
By the way, Grosby was almost ready to hand the 49ers a first-round bye. The schedule does set up favorably over the next month. Alex Smith's ability to hold up for a full season ranked high among my concerns for the 49ers entering the season. He's held up well to this point despite taking too many sacks over the first month.

710ESPN Seattle audio: NFC West Week 6

October, 14, 2011
The Aaron Curry trade and the San Francisco 49ers' trip to Detroit dominated my weekly conversation with Dave Grosby and Dave Wyman on 710ESPN Seattle.

They've made available the audio here.

We went on longer than expected about Curry, covering some of the ground Wyman explored in what I thought was a definitive piece. On the 49ers, I focused on just how comfortable Alex Smith appears now that he feels as though the team's offensive scheme provides adequate answers to opposing defenses.

710ESPN Seattle audio: NFC West Week 5

October, 6, 2011
Danny Amendola's elbow and triceps injury, now deemed season ending, was among the subjects Dave Grosby, Bob Stelton, Dave Wyman and I discussed during our latest NFC West conversation on 710ESPN Seattle.

They've posted the audio.

Losing Amendola for the season significantly alters the St. Louis Rams' plans for their offense. I'll have more on that in another item shortly.

We also discussed the other NFC West teams in this conversation.

710ESPN audio: NFC West Week 3

September, 21, 2011
My weekly conversation with Dave Grosby, Bob Stelton and Dave Wyman on 710ESPN Seattle touched on what's wrong with the Seahawks.

One observation: The team's primary offseason additions have failed to meet expectations for various reasons.
  • Left guard Robert Gallery, signed in free agency from Oakland, did not suddenly become a below-average player. He was playing hurt to a degree that was not known publicly. We knew about the sprained knee, but a lingering groin injury had bothered him since camp, coach Pete Carroll said. Now, Gallery will require surgery that will sideline him for at least a month.
  • Receiver Sidney Rice, signed in free agency from Minnesota, suffered a torn labrum and hasn't been able to play this season. Rice will try to play this week, but there are no guarantees.
  • Tight end Zach Miller, signed in free agency from Oakland, has spent more time blocking than anticipated because the offensive line has had problems. Left tackle Russell Okung battled ankle injuries and has yet to hit stride. Gallery is out. The team will use its third starting line combination of the season Sunday and it's only Week 3. Injuries to fullback Michael Robinson and fellow tight end John Carlson have also required Miller to focus more on blocking.
  • Tarvaris Jackson, signed in free agency from Minnesota, was never expected to carry the offense. But the team hasn't been able to support Jackson as well as anticipated given situations involving Okung, Gallery, Rice, Miller and Carlson, who is on injured reserve.

Throw these factors together and Seattle is worse than expected, even though its 0-2 record following two road games was not.

Posted by's Mike Sando

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Here's an audio link to my conversation with John Clayton on 710ESPN Seattle this morning. We discussed Beanie Wells, Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. I'll be heading out to practice this afternoon. Off to 49ers camp Sunday night.

Posted by's Mike Sando


Seahawks strength coach Mike Clark singled out Brandon Mebane as one of the players he can't keep from coming into the weight room, even when it's time for a rest. 710 ESPN Seattle has the audio about halfway through this hour-long block.

Keep an eye on Mebane this summer. He's a key part of what the Seahawks want to do defensively. The team has turned him into more of an up-the-field defensive tackle. That should give him an opportunity to get more sacks as the Seahawks implement more of the Tampa principles that helped free up Warren Sapp. If Mebane develops as planned, perhaps Seattle could even use him at end in the 3-3 defense Eric D. Williams addressed earlier in the day.

Clark on Mebane: "Some [players] you have to kidnap to get them out of here. You laugh, but I am dead serious. I've got one of those I was having a discussion with today. ... He just needs a break but he is so excited about it -- somebody we have talked about, Brandon Mebane."

Defensive tackles generally aren't known as workout warriors. Expect a leaner version of Mebane when the Seahawks open training camp. Clark also mentioned guard Mike Wahle, guard Rob Sims and defensive Patrick Kerney among his most diligent workers.

Posted by's Mike Sando

710 ESPN Seattle has posted audio from my Wednesday conversation about the NFC West with Brock Huard and Mike Salk. My segment begins about 40 minutes into this hourlong block.

How will this division be defined this season?

My answer: "It won't be as bad as last year. I think it'll be defined, though, by how well they do outside the division. That has been the rap on, was the rap on Arizona last year. They were 9-7, but it was 6-0 in the division. This division is going to be better. The Rams are not going to be a laughingstock. The Seahawks are going to be better than a 4-12 team. There are going to be more competitive games. ... Early in the year, you have Arizona at home against Indy. There are a few games like that, I think, that if the NFC West teams win, you can start to make a better claim that you are a more legitimate division."

Posted by's Mike Sando

Those who have not yet subscribed to the John Clayton podcast (iTunes, Zune) can check out our Saturday conversation on the NFC West in this audio file from 710 ESPN Seattle. Good times, as always.