NFC West: Chad Johnson

Alex Smith, Vernon Davis connection back

December, 11, 2010
The San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass in four consecutive games this season.

The streak ended when a shoulder injury sidelined quarterback Alex Smith. Davis failed to catch a scoring pass in his first four games with Troy Smith at quarterback, finally catching one against Green Bay last week.

Alex Smith's return to the 49ers' lineup Sunday could give Davis a boost. The two go back as far as any current quarterback-receiver or quarterback-tight end tandem in the NFC West. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Obomanu also date to 2006, but Obomanu became a regular contributor only recently.

Alex Smith has thrown 18 of his 46 career touchdown passes to Davis. No active quarterback with at least 20 touchdown passes has thrown a higher percentage of his scoring throws to the same player since 2001, according to Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information.

The chart ranks the 10 highest active percentages.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Tom Condon's hiring as Anquan Boldin's agent probably signals a less public negotiation. Like most agents, Condon keeps a lower profile than Boldin's former agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Condon is best known in the NFC West for his handling of Steve Hutchinson's disputed departure from the Seahawks to the Vikings. That process played out in the public, but Condon kept a low profile throughout. I would expect him to work behind the scenes on Boldin's behalf.

Rosenhaus had become known for representing unhappy receivers in Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Boldin. Condon is better known for representing quarterbacks.

The NFLPA lists Condon as the agent for 38 signed players. The Browns' Braylon Edwards and the Cowboys' Travis Wilson are the only receivers besides Boldin. The NFLPA lists Condon's partner, Ben Dogra, as the agent for four veteran receivers: Lee Evans and Josh Reed of the Bills, plus the Cowboys' Roy Williams and the Chargers' Chris Chambers.

Condon represents a dozen NFL quarterbacks, including his only other Cardinals client, Matt Leinart. The list includes Matt Ryan, Brady Quinn, Chris Simms, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, Chad Pennington, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Alex Smith and Marc Bulger.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Darren Urban of describes Larry Fitzgerald as "totally recharged" following his adventure through Africa and the Middle East. Fitzgerald: "Best trip ever. I am totally recharged. It feels so good to get back in here. I'm so happy to see a good turnout and getting ready to get it again. I was itching to get back in the gym. It's home away from home." Fitzgerald has lots more planned for his offseason, starting with a trip to Minnesota for the annual golf tournament honoring his late mother, Carol.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says Karlos Dansby's unsettled contract situation could affect the Cardinals' draft plans. I think the team needed to address linebacker anyway. The need certainly grows if getting a deal with Dansby isn't likely.

Dave Mahler of Seattle's KJR radio checks in with Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones. This link goes directly to an audio file. Jones sounds relaxed and upbeat in discussing the change from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora. Jones says he feels good, still loves competition and feels invigorated learning a new offense. Jones on the Cardinals: "They are a team that won the conference, they won the division, so they are the team to beat. That is your motivation."

Greg Johns of found a grateful prospective Seahawk in former Western Washington linebacker Shane Simmons. Simmons has worked construction and as a personal trainer since the Raiders released him after the 2008 preseason. Simmons is participating in the Seahawks' minicamp on a tryout basis.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Jim Mora appears comfortable in his new role as the Seahawks' head coach in the post-Mike Holmgren era. Boling: "Here's a difference that's fair to mention, although probably meaningless: Mora has a whistle. Holmgren let others blow the whistle. Draw your own conclusions."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Jones and Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari. Solari says the Seahawks installed zone concepts last season in anticipation of using them in 2009. The team did not use them in 2008.

Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts isn't buying talk that the Seahawks are seriously considering Matthew Stafford with the fourth overall choice. Steffes: "[Matt] Stafford maybe, but choosing Mark Sanchez would be counter to everything this team has done since 2005. Hopefully there is enough hype that someone wants to move up, but I wouldn't count on it."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck expressed frustration over how his injury situation was handled last season. Hasselbeck put it this way: "Knowing that there's a high likelihood that I'm not going to play and not necessarily being able to come out and say."

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks long-snapper Tyler Schmitt says he's 100 percent after undergoing back surgery last season.

Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune says Holmgren watched practice at the University of Washington. Holmgren and new Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian have strong ties to USC.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says Holmgren watched practice Wednesday at the University of Washington. Holmgren's son-in-law coordinates recruiting for the Huskies. Sarkisian: "It's an honor and hopefully our kids recognized that and hopefully he can continue to come out. It's fun. ... Hopefully we play a little better as a team the next time he comes out." 

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat leans on draft analyst Rob Rang in assessing which running backs the 49ers might consider in the draft. Iowa's Shonn Greene is one candidate. Rang also thinks Chris Wells could go in the top 10. Rang: "I have a hard time thinking they would do that because I think they have too much respect for what Frank Gore brings. They don't want to [upset him]. But Beanie Wells is a spectacular talent. He's a Larry Johnson -- almost an Adrian Peterson -- kind of talent. But he needs to be coddled, and Mike Singletary's strength probably is not in coddling players."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers are sprucing up their facilities while expanding square footage from 45,000 to 54,000. 

Florida Danny of Niners Nation unveils a roughly 4,500-word dissertation on the 49ers' draft history since 1994. Lots of information in here. I checked some of it against my own information and it matched up. For example, the 49ers have indeed drafted 20 players from Pac-10 schools and 19 from SEC schools since 1994, more than they have drafted from other conferences.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Norfolk State cornerback Don Carey is visiting the 49ers and Seahawks, among other teams. Purdue running back Kory Sheets is also visiting the 49ers.

VanRam of Turf Show Times wonders how the Rams can upgrade at receiver, noting that Football Outsiders has suggested Eagles restricted free agent Hank Baskett. VanRam: "That seems unlikely until you consider that the Eagles are interested in some big names like [Chad] Ocho Cinco and earlier talk about being a player for Anquan Boldin. If that happens, they might be willing to let Baskett walk since they also have Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown on the roster, unless they see his productivity from last season as a sign of things to come."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says holding training camp away from their facility wasn&#39
;t practical for the Rams this year, in part because changes to the coaching staff and front office left little time to formulate plans.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Bill Kipouras of the Salem News says the Cardinals worked out parameters for a deal with Brian St. Pierre between periods of a hockey game. St. Pierre: "I got a raise and [coach Ken Whisenhunt] said he'd let me compete with Matt Leinart for the No. 2 job. I trust the coach. I've enjoyed him, and my wife, [Jocelyn], and I both love Arizona. It's the best decision we could have made."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic does not expect the Cardinals to release Edgerrin James before the team lines up potential replacements.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are optimistic about adding James Butler in a soft market for safeties. Beyond that, pickings are slim. Thomas: "In theory, the market calms down after the first week or so of free agency, meaning players can be signed at more reasonable prices. Trouble is, many of the free agents who appeared to be on the Rams' radar have signed elsewhere."

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says Kurt Warner and Manny Ramirez are using San Francisco's pro sports teams. Knapp: "Even though the current administrations have vowed to take a new path, both of them de-emphasizing the long ball, they would be willing to appear to waive those considerations if the right player could sweep their fans off their feet."

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind feels better about Warner returning to the Cardinals after the latest developments: "Bottom line, my confidence in Warner's return to the Cardinals was starting to wane, but it's clear that he wants to stay and the Cardinals won the stare-down. He's drastically lowered his asking price and it's time to get this done. Are you ready to get Warner's name on the dotted line? Sound like a fair deal?"

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sets the scene from Seahawks headquarters as the team introduces T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Farnsworth: "Sitting in the front row was Houshmandzadeh's wife, Kaci, and their daughters -- Karrington, 8, and Kennedi, 6, who could give the Obama girls a run with their stylish matching outfits and poise under pressure."

Also from Farnsworth: Matt Hasselbeck, Patrick Kerney and Walter Jones are faring well in their rehabilitations, according to Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell.

Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says signing Houshmandzadeh was a natural reaction to the Seahawks' problems at receiver last season.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says Houshmandzadeh can finally emerge from Chad Johnson's shadow after all those years in Cincinnati.

How Houshmandzadeh fits in Seattle

March, 2, 2009
Seahawks WR Age Career Rec.
Bobby Engram
36 645
T.J. Houshmandzadeh
31 507 Agreed
Deion Branch
29 345
Billy McMullen
28 52
Koren Robinson
28 294
Logan Payne
27 3
Nate Burleson
27 200
Mike Hass
26 0
Ben Obomanu
25 12
Courtney Taylor
24 14
Jordan Kent
24 0
Michael Bumpus
23 5

Posted by's Mike Sando

T.J. Houshmandzadeh gives the Seahawks a third starting-caliber receiver, with a fourth -- Bobby Engram -- still available as an unrestricted free agent if the team seeks more depth.

Houshmandzadeh, 31, has nearly as many career receptions (507) as 2008 Seattle starters Deion Branch (345) and Nate Burleson (200) combined. His addition gives Seattle additional flexibility in deciding how to use the fourth overall choice in the draft.

The chart lists Seattle's receivers from oldest to youngest, with unrestricted free agents in a lighter font. Houshmandzadeh will be 32 years old this season. His yards per catch have diminished every year since 2004.

I spoke with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. about this move and he explained how he thinks Houshmandzadeh will affect the Seahawks after leaving the Bengals:

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger says Anquan Boldin's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, caused a stir by suggesting Plaxico Burress, Chad Johnson and Boldin were available for trade. Garafalo: "Giants assistant general manager Kevin Abrams notified the rest of the league that the Giants had not authorized Rosenhaus to pursue trade scenarios on Burress' behalf, and that any inquiries about Burress' availability would constitute tampering. Another person informed of the situation said Rosenhaus sent out another e-mail yesterday in which he clarified he doesn't have permission to seek a trade for any of the three clients he listed.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up the Cardinals' restricted free agents, suggesting Gabe Watson could carry extra value.

Florida Danny of Niners Nation cites sport psychology in breaking down the 49ers' offense under Mike Martz. One conclusion: "Martz has had a habit throughout his career -- except for a year in which he had one of the greatest groups of offensive talent ever -- of failing to put his players in positions where they can perform at the highest level possible."

Don Banks of isn't sure what to make of the Seahawks' Jim Mora and the 49ers' Mike Singletary heading into the 2009 season. He expects Mora to be wiser for past experiences, but he's not sure what Mora is inheriting. The feeling is understandable. Matt Hasselbeck's viability remains a key variable.

Rob Staton's Seahawks Draft Blog tracks mock drafts and other draft-related developments with an eye toward the Seahawks and sometimes the division.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' Torry Holt has signed up with Orlando Pace's agent. The team could be speaking with both players about salary adjustments. Thomas: "[Agent Kennard] McGuire is expected to meet with Rams officials, specifically new executive vice president of football operation-chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, at the NFL scouting combine next week in Indianapolis to discuss courses of action with Holt and Pace."

Around the NFC West: Presidential veto

January, 24, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are hoping to prove the new president wrong. Barack Obama is taking the Steelers.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic dusts off a reference to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in describing the comedic charms of Cardinals offensive linemen Lyle Sendlein and Deuce Lutui.

Max Jarman of the Arizona Republic looks at Cardinals memorabilia sales.

David Mackall of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals guard Reggie Wells, whose parents have gone to great lengths in watching their son play.

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic looks at the Cardinals' penchant for trick plays. Coordinator Todd Haley concedes that the "Philly Special" might not work a second time.

Also from the Republic: a notebook leading with an item on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic provides an injury update from Cardinals practice Friday. Travis LaBoy is practicing on a limited basis. J.J. Arrington remains on the sideline.

Darren Urban of says Cardinals running back Tim Hightower has benefited from an unlikely background in ballet.

Also from Urban: Cardinals defensive end Bertrand Berry finally enjoys success with Arizona.

More from Urban: Adrian Wilson's jack-in-the-box celebration is one of several the Cardinals have planned, just in case.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune traces the Cardinals' improvement to Michael Bidwill's arrival as team president in 2002.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune looks at Rod Graves' role in building the Cardinals.

Niners general manager Scot McCloughan says the team hopes Alex Smith can compete with Shaun Hill to become the 49ers' starting quarterback. McCloughan: "I still believe Alex Smith is going to be a good quarterback in the NFL and if we can have him back competing with Shaun, we'd love to do it."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle isn't sure what to make of the 49ers' interest in Dan Reeves and Hue Jackson as potential offensive coordinators. Crumpacker: "With his sixth and seventh candidates interviewed, Singletary is either exercising due diligence in his search for a coordinator or is struggling to find someone compatible with his vision for the 49ers' offense."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says hiring Jackson, now with the Ravens and formerly with the Falcons and Bencals, would "open the door to troubled but talented players such as Ocho Cinco, [Michael] Vick and to lesser extent [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat traces Reeves' candidacy to former 49ers coach Mike Nolan. Maiocco: "When Mike Nolan was named 49ers head coach in 2005, there were rumblings he might bring along his mentor, Dan Reeves, to assist him. Nolan is gone, but Reeves accepted a surprise invitation Friday to visit the 49ers team headquarters and discuss the offensive-coordinator position with new coach Mike Singletary."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary couldn't find a more old-school coordinator than Reeves.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer questions whether the Seahawks will keep two kickers for the long term. General manager Tim Ruskell says Olindo Mare will be back. The plan -- "right now," Ruskell said -- is for Brandon Coutu to return as well.

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why he likes the Seahawks' hiring of Tim Lewis to coach the secondary. The fact that Lewis brought Charles Godfrey to Carolina helps.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says special-teams coach Al Roberts is one of the assistant coaches not coming back to the Rams. Strength coach Dana LeDuc and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea also will not return. Thomas: "Some holdover assistants who are still being considered for jobs are scheduled to meet with new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and new defensive coordinator Ken Flajole over the next few days."

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript that says the Rams do not have anyone negotiating contracts at the moment.

Mailbag: Seeking solutions for Seahawks

December, 3, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kurt from Colorado Springs, Colo., writes: Mike - I'm one of a thousand guys who miss your reporting in the TNT. I'm also one of a 1 million guys who are disappointed with the Seahawks' season. Play GM for a minute and tell us what you would do to right the 'Hawks' ship and get us back into playoff contention in 2009.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Kurt. The safe pick early would be to land an offensive tackle. But as Deon Grant would say, perhaps this isn't the time to play it safe.

The Seahawks need to fix their pass rush. They can't count on Patrick Kerney to do that no matter how much they are paying him ($4 million in salary with a $3 million roster bonus, all in 2009). Kerney's injury situation remains a concern and he's getting up there in age.

Fix the pass rush and you make everyone in the back seven look a lot better. I could also see adding an interior defensive lineman. Marcus Tubbs made a huge difference in the middle of that defense when Seattle went to the Super Bowl. A player in that mold, only more talented, would make the Seahawks much better on defense.

On offense, I would draft for the line, add a veteran receiver and do everything possible to get Matt Hasselbeck healthy for the long haul. He's still the best option at quarterback for 2009.

(Read full post)

Mailbag: More carries for Gore, please

October, 16, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Thanks for filling the mailbag. In the early days of this blog, I responded to almost every mailbag submission, usually in the mailbag itself. We're getting lots more submissions as the blog hopefully gains some momentum. I read them all, respond to many and use quite a few of them here in the mailbag. Thanks again for your contributions. Now, on to the mailbag ...

Adam from Onarga, Ill., writes: Frank Gore is averaging 4.9 yards a carry, yet he isn't getting the touches you would expect. Is Mike Martz still stuck in his woeful Lions mentality where the running back talent was quite weak? I feel that Martz is wasting talent in a great running back many teams wish they could have.

Mike Sando: I think Mike Martz has remained committed to Gore most of the time. However, we've seen a couple of key situations when going away from Gore proved costly. The 49ers ran only a few plays in the third quarter of the New England game. Gore got no carries. That would be one example. The way Martz handled the fourth quarter against the Eagles also opened him to criticism on this subject.

Gore is averaging 17.8 carries per game, 13th in the league. I've got Gore with 129 touches (carries plus receptions). These five players have more: Matt Forte (154), Clinton Portis (145), Adrian Peterson (140), Marion Barber (140) and Michael Turner (131). Those players' teams have all run more offensive plays this season, in some cases quite a few more.

The criticism you make seems fair situationally, if not cumulatively. By the way, if anyone has a link to stats that include most touches, please provide it. I imported receiving and rushing stats and then set up a formula to total receptions and rushes. Thanks in advance.

(Read full post)

Mailbag: Gore due to break out

September, 18, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Dean from Laramie, Wyo., writes: I am wondering if Frank Gore is going to have a breakout game or if he is playing his new role. I get the feeling the niners are pushing the passing game to get some rhythm going. I would understand this since most of the receivers were out all preseason. Still though I wonder how long Gore will go before a 100-yard game?

Mike Sando: The Lions dumped Mike Martz because they wanted to run the ball more. Perhaps Martz shows his former team how a top-flight back such as Gore influences a coordinator's decision making along those lines. This has the feel of a breakout week for Gore. I could see Martz feeding the ball to him if the game is close or the 49ers are winning.

Anthony from Boston writes: Your an IDIOT!!!!! How can you rank Denver 14th in your power rankings after the impressive offensive performances the first 2 weeks of the season and have Indy at 6 after losing to Chicago and Barely squeaking out a win against Minnesota? Pittsburgh at number 2 after barely beating the lowly Browns? How did you come up with those numbers?

Mike Sando: The Broncos might not be the same without Ed Hochuli next week.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks' desperate need for help at receiver probably won't produce many options on the trade market. Teams have been stubborn in refusing to trade even their disgruntled receivers, from Chad Johnson to Anquan Boldin.

What about free agent Koren Robinson? Well, after resisting the temptation last week, the Seahawks might have little choice. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times say only a physical examination might stand between Robinson and the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2001.

Bringing back Robinson makes sense if the Seahawks take every possible precaution in making sure Robinson doesn't revert to his wayward off-field ways. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck needs a target familiar with the offense after injuries sidelined Bobby Engram, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, Ben Obomanu, Logan Payne and emergency wideout Seneca Wallace.

"I've obviously got a long history with him," Hasselbeck said of Robinson. "I'd say the biggest thing is, just from a distance, I've only seen him once since he left here, or twice, but from a distance, watching him on television, watching what his coaches and teammates said about him in Minnesota and Green Bay, I'm really proud of the way he's turned his life around."

The Seattle locker room is in much better position to assimilate Robinson now compared to a few years ago. By 2004, Robinson's final season with the team, his constant tardiness and overall unreliability was making it hard for leaders to emerge in the locker room. The organization was talking about what it wanted from players without holding Robinson accountable for his actions. That undermined leadership from within.

How could would-be leaders encourage accountability when the organization was tolerating Robinson and what he represented? Leadership is well established now. Robinson would have to fit within the current framework.

Mailbag: Crying over spilled wine

August, 21, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

David from Scottsdale, Ariz., writes: Mike: regarding Anquan Boldin's latest. This is classic Drew Rosenhaus. Why do we even pay attention anymore?

Mike Sando: Reporters get paid to pay attention. Contract disputes are never fun to cover. They can run a beat reporter's life 20 hours a day. I'll share a true story. My wife and I were dating while I was a Seahawks beat reporter and Joey Galloway's contract dispute was in full swing. I was finally finished writing my story at about 10 p.m. My wife and I sat down and were about to have a glass of wine. The phone rings. Galloway was firing his agent. The night was only beginning. The glass of wine spilled on the carpet. It's an upset we ever got married.

Jared in Bend, Ore., writes: I may be crazy, but I still believe that Alex Smith will be the starter for SF. Nolan may be coaching for his job, but Mcloughan has stated repeatedly that he is in on the decision. If Smith doesn't start, doesn't that put [GM Scot] Mcloughan on the hook, too?

Mike Sando: I like your thinking. I'm just not sure it's going to come out that way. Most general managers would indeed like to give the high draft choice every opportunity. If you're going to go with Smith, though, shouldn't he be getting the reps?

Chad from parts unknown writes: Sando- I keep reading about a bunch of WR's who are either looking to get traded or released (Boldin, Horn, Parker). Wouldn't it make sense for Seattle to try to pick up one of these guys? There's almost nothing certain in the Hawks receiving core right now, why not?

Mike Sando: The last time I checked in on the Eric Parker front, his toe was going to need considerable time to heal. Joe Horn reportedly wants to play for the Cowboys or Eagles. I feel confident saying the Cardinals aren't trading Boldin to the Seahawks. Seattle could have Branch for the first game and Engram shortly thereafter. Also, the Seahawks would be on the hook for any veteran's full season salary if that player were on their roster for the regular-season opener.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider says quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left practice this morning when his back tightened up again.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says first-round draft choice Lawrence Jackson continues working with the first-team offense, which means lining up against Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones. Welcome to the NFL, kid. Update: O'Neil also says the Seattle offense stayed after practice to work on the screen pass, which mysteriously disappeared from the team's repertoire several years ago.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Seahawks defensive back Jordan Babineaux beat a Champions Tour golfer in a closest-to-the-pin competition. Babineaux stuck his shot within 5 feet. The Seahawks sponsor a Champions Tour event at Snoqualmie Ridge.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says Anquan Boldin's latest comments tarnish his reputation. Bordow: "Boldin's latest blast is clearly a Drew Rosenhaus production. Rosenhaus' clients often start foaming at the mouth when they're unhappy. Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs ripped coach Lovie Smith, Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson took on the entire organization, and now Boldin is trying to force his way out. It's blackmail, pure and simple."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals don't want cornerback Lito Sheppard from the Eagles as part of any Boldin trade. The Eagles are on the Cardinals' schedule this season.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers fights through lame quarterback quotes before fielding questions, including one from a reader who recalled a June 26 blog entry that listed J.T. O'Sullivan as something less than a likely starter. O'Sullivan has gone from have a good chance of making the roster to starting the third exhibition game, all in less than two months.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Rams are resting left tackle Orlando Pace, who remains sore after extensive playing time in two exhibition games. Pace is returning from shoulder surgery. Here's what coach Scott Linehan told reporters today:

"It is more just that he has been playing and played a lot. He used his arms and shoulders really well this last game and just felt sore. There is no reoccurrence of any injuries. It is just, he is sore. The guy really hadn't played live until this last two preseason games. A little in the scrimmages down in Tennessee, but other than that, he was pretty physical, he was out there for 40-something plays, which was good."

And in New England, the Patriots released former Seahawks tight end Marcus Pollard. Coach Bill Belichick put it this way when speaking with reporters:

"I think with Marcus it wasn't really going to work out here the way that we had hoped and he had hoped. At the same time, there are still a couple preseason games left and time before the season opener and I think there are some other teams that are looking for tight ends and maybe there is a better opportunity for him somewhere else. That is for him to determine, but rather than do it on the last cut, his options will be more limited. We felt like in fairness to him and out of respect for Marcus and what he has done in his career, he's had an outstanding career, coming from a small school and has become a very productive player and he deserved that."

I'm heading out to 49ers practice and will check back in a bit.

Mailbag: Boldin fallout continues

August, 19, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

 AP Photo/Matt York
 Anquan Boldin is unhappy with his current contract with the Cardinals.

Chris from Denver writes: Mike, Anquan Boldin is getting a little ridiculous. He signed his contract. Granted, the market has changed, but to call out your coach and management seems petty. What are the chances AZ will trade him? This type of act can cause division in the locker room, god knows the Cards don't need that. What are your thoughts on the situation? The next Chad Johnson?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals are betting on cooler heads prevailing. They know Boldin isn't a prima donna. They know Boldin doesn't want to be viewed as just another whiny and disgruntled receiver. The Cardinals have been betting on Boldin becoming the same old professional Anquan once the season begins. At that point, players have a harder time lodging public complaints about matters such as these. Would Boldin let this situation affect wins and losses? That has not been his style.

This latest outburst strikes me as a calculated move. This wasn't Boldin popping off to beat reporters in the locker room after practice. He went on NFL Network.

Boldin's complaints would have wider-reaching ramifications in the locker room if the Cardinals weren't willing to pay their players top dollar. This organization has stepped up to pay Larry Fitzgerald, Edgerrin James, Chike Okeafor and others. Boldin has three years left on his deal. That is the big issue here. The Cardinals don't want to get in the habit of tearing up deals with three years remaining. They want to work out a deal on their terms, not his terms. That is probably their perogative given how much time remains on Boldin's deal.

Kevin from San Diego writes: Sando - Great work on insights with the NFC west. In light of the news with Boldin in AZ, [Seahawks president Tim] Ruskell has to be paying some attention. Now, before you completely shut me down, what are the chances we get into serious talks with the Cards about Boldin? We've given a 1st round for Branch. Why not for Boldin? I know you've been bombarded with this before, but just give us some hope that there might be a chance...thanks.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks traded a prominent receiver within the division, but Darrell Jackson wasn't Anquan Boldin. I'd be stunned if the Cardinals traded Boldin to their primary division rival. Repeat, stunned. They would have to get tremendous value in return.

Andrew from Cave Creek, Ariz., writes: Sando, do you think the Cardinals could get a 1st round pick for Anquan if he has a solid season and goes uninjured?

Mike Sando: The price for veteran receivers can vary wildly. The Raiders could get only a fourth-round choice for Randy Moss because everyone knew Moss had no future in Oakland, and there were questions about Moss' commitment.

A productive Boldin would seem to carry more value, but any deal would likely be contingent on Boldin working out a new long-term contract with his new team. I would give up a first-round choice for Boldin because a happy Boldin is the type of player and person a franchise can build around. That is tough to find at the receiver position.

Lee from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Why is it that only NEGATIVE articles are printed about the Cardinals? I'm sick of this. First , a QB situation, next a WR who's being a SPOILED brat. I know you have a job to speculate, but this reader and football fan is getting sick of all the negative print about the Arizona Cards. (Mr. Bidwill, give it back and remove the curse, please?)

Mike Sando: I take it as a good sign when we have a Cardinals fan with passion hitting the mailbag. Seahawks and 49ers fans dominate this mailbag. As for the points you raised: The quarterback situation isn't a negative story at all. The Cardinals have enviable depth there. Their top two quarterbacks would probably start for the 49ers. If you are talking about those other quarterback stories -- the ones about a certain former USC quarterback enjoying the occasional party -- we moved on from that a long time ago.