NFC West: Craig Johnson
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoMitch from parts unknown writes: First off Mike I like the blog. I always look forward to reading it. My problem is way the Cards are handling my boy Edge. He can still play. Just because he isn't popping off 50+ yd runs doesn't mean he cant play anymore. He is a grinder that can move the chains. These fantasy geeks don't appreciate the 3 and 4 yd runs to make it 2nd and 6 instead of 2nd 10 or 9. Whisenhunt needs to quit letting Warner chuck it every down like he's still playing Arena ball.
Your stock rising list should include Edge. Even the commentators are jumping off the Hightower wagon and wondering why Edge isn't in the game. Arizona needs to commit to the run more with Edge and have the threat of play-action with their weapons at WR. Edge proved he can still do it against New England this past week but the "Whiz" has a personal issue with him for whatever reason.
There's a reason Whiz and Russ Grimm didnt get the Steelers job. If they wanted to run the ball so badly then they would have made the commitment to do it. The O-line needs work but Edge can still find creases to move the chains. Keep up the good work and give Edge some respect.
Mike Sando: I suspect the Cardinals' commitment to Warner has led them down this road. The team has played to its strengths offensively, which has meant playing to Warner's strengths, which has meant throwing the ball frequently. That worked well for a long time, but the tougher schedule has caught up to Arizona, and now there's not a running game when the Cardinals suddenly need one.
Arizona spends significant time in the shotgun, which helps Warner see the field while reducing the pounding his fragile hands take from direct snaps (delivered more firmly than we might realize watching from afar). Teams do run from the shotgun, but I think the shotgun facilitates the passing game in this case.
Edgerrin James wasn't going to bust long runs, as you noted, but neither would he necessarily fit into the offense as the Cardinals are running it. It's too late at this point for the Cardinals to reinvent themselves as a run-oriented team with James as the featured back.
I'm a little surprised the Cardinals have adopted the passing game to this degree. Watching their opener, I expected them to be more balanced this season.
James from Lincoln, U.K., writes: Seasons Greetings, Mr Sando. Assuming Mike Singletary is appointed Head Coach for real after the season (the right move in my opinion) can the 49ers do enough to become contenders for this awful division? Is there enough talent for this to happen? I understand that this is a flawed roster, so what do they have to do to become a contender to make the playoffs? Has your opinion of the roster changed over the last six weeks?
Mike Sando: Every team wakes up a contender in this division next season. Even the Rams have a chance to compete if they make the right changes this offseason.
The 49ers need to follow through on plans to solidify the offensive line. They need to continue matching their personnel to their approach, a strength under Singletary so far. And they need to make the right choice at offensive coordinator. That last one is huge. We'll expand on it later in this mailbag.