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Mailbag: The next Kurt Warner?

3/29/2010

Jeff from Waco, Texas writes: Would you see a Donovan McNabb trade involving the Niners as similar to the Cardinals getting Kurt Warner? It was successful for a few years, but wasn't a dynasty builder. As a Niners fan, I would rather hope that Alex Smith or David Carr could be the guy who leads the team to championships, not a guy like McNabb who might only have a few more solid seasons under his belt.

Mike Sando: Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and gave his team the lead in the final minutes. If the 49ers thought McNabb could take them to that level, they should acquire him right now. We already know McNabb can be a productive, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. I also think a team could win a championship with him. Too much is made of the fact that McNabb lost a Super Bowl and hasn't gotten the Eagles back to one since. Five Super Bowls have passed since Tom Brady won one and no one is saying the Patriots need a new quarterback. They're tough to win!

The evidence on Smith and Carr suggests neither will become productive perennially. I do think the 49ers have enough invested in Smith to have an interest in seeing him through this season. They've strived for continuity for so long. Another quarterback change would entail starting over once again.

The question is really whether McNabb could take the 49ers to a level they likely wouldn't reach with Smith or Carr. My money would be on McNabb. But if I had invested the first overall choice in Smith and felt as though he might be on the verge of finally breaking through, I wouldn't replace him lightly.


Jason from Rochester, N.Y., writes: Hey Mike, even though Seattle signed Charlie Whitehurst, we know that general manager John Schneider likes to draft a QB every year. Any chance they use a late-rounder on local boy, Matt Nichols? Also, aren't they showing their hand a bit on where they will be drafting by purging both Cory Redding and Darryl Tapp? Edge pass rush was their most obvious need even with those two on the roster. With Julius Peppers signed, the pickings are slim in the free-agent market. Do you think No. 14 is going to be used for a defensive end?

Mike Sando: I agree that the Seahawks have subtracted somewhat unnecessarily as if determining what they don't want before having adequate reinforcements on board. This is what teams tend to do when new regimes take over. It's not just a Seattle thing. It also might tell us where the previous regime overvalued certain players. And then when you factor in changes made for scheme reasons, it's another reminder that NFL franchise makeovers come at a high price.

Nichols does project as a late-round prospect, but there's nothing to say the Seahawks would value him over another late-rounder at the position. I do think Seattle will probably draft a quarterback for the No. 3 role. That is also pretty typical. It makes sense because if you hit on a player at that position, the payoff can be great, even if he never starts for you.

I could see the Seahawks drafting a pass-rusher at No. 6 or No. 14. It's an area the team needs to address and with two picks that early, this is the chance.


Phillip from Olympia, Wash., writes: What's going on with the Seahawks' offensive line? I thought the new regime was going to transform the group. Any news on Rob Sims since the Jim Mora tirade and the Chicago trade rumer?

Mike Sando: I've been expecting Seattle to sign a Ben Hamilton or Chester Pitts type. That could still happen. Then I think we'll see the team draft for the position as well. Sims could return, but only if the Seahawks cannot get value for him. A trade probably remains the most likely scenario.


Peyson from Shelley, Idaho writes: Why don't the Seahawks get Brandon Marshall for their 14th pick? I mean, it is like giving back their pick to the Broncos and that would solidify the wide receiver position for us for the next couple years. Then we could use the sixth pick on an offensive linemen and use our second on a defensive linemen. This year is a deep year for big running backs, so we could pick one up in the fourth round. That's the way I look at it. What do you think?

Mike Sando: Seattle would have to risk the sixth pick in signing Marshall to an offer sheet. If you're talking about a trade, why pay the 14th overall choice for Marshall now if the price drops later? I don't see a long line of teams itching for a shot to acquire Marshall. Seattle would be better off trying to use the sixth and 14th picks for starters, using a later pick for Marshall, if possible.


Michael from Phoenix writes: Mike, with the 49ers looking for help in the return game and employing a 'best player available' strategy in the draft, how can they pass up a talent like Dez Bryant? I know receiver is not a pressing need, but with Bryant's stock falling because of off-field issues, he could be a steal that they can't afford to pass up. He would provide immediate help in the return game and most scouts have him rated higher than Michael Crabtree. The more talent assembled around Alex Smith can only help his development. Although those targets would look even better with McNabb -- I'm crossing my fingers -- they can still draft a tackle with the other first-round pick and sign free agent Chester Pitts to shore up the offensive line. What do you think?

Mike Sando: The 49ers did benefit from some of the red flags surrounding Crabtree a year ago. I also agree with the thinking that a team should arm its quarterback with more and more weapons. The Colts have done an excellent job drafting playmakers to help Peyton Manning.

The question is really whether targeting for value at No. 13 would prevent the 49ers from matching value to need at No. 17, the assumption being that San Francisco needs to help its offensive line with one of those first two selections. If the 49ers can address the line with one of those choices, I do think they can feel better about adding more of a luxury item with the other first-round choice.


Mike from Costa Mesa, Calif., writes: Sando! What do you think the chances are that Arizona will select a QB with one of its two third-round picks or in later rounds? I for one am intrigued by John Skelton of Fordham and would love to see him go to the Cards. I'm pretty sure that Skelton would be there for the third round, but is there a chance that he could still be on the board in the fifth or sixth rounds?

Mike Sando: Yeah, there's a chance he could be there after the third round. He's a big guy, 6-foot-5 and 240-plus pounds. Any player taken that late is going to come with some question marks. Skelton didn't face the best competition at Fordham. He played from the shotgun quite a bit, so there would be some projecting for the offense the Cardinals want to run. Sooner or later, though, the Cardinals need to draft a developmental quarterback.

Whisenhunt's teams have drafted six quarterbacks over the years: Tim Couch, Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington, Brian St. Pierre, Omar Jacobs and Wally Richardson. The Cardinals haven't drafted one since Whisenhunt got there. It's probably time.


Frank from Los Angeles wants to know whether the Rams might avoid drafting Sam Bradford over fears that they wouldn't be able to sign him before the draft.

Mike Sando: The Rams can't let that stop them from drafting a franchise quarterback if they indeed think Bradford can be that type of player. Whether Bradford is signed in April or July shouldn't matter a great deal at this stage of the evaluation process.

Take the best player, particularly if he is a quarterback, and worry about the details later.