NFC West: Tyrone Willingham
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dan from Lafayette, Calif., writes: Mike, last year the 49ers were the sexy pick to win the division or gain a Wild Card spot. They flopped mainly because of horrible QB play which resulted in no offensive production and a dead-tired defense. This year, with the team being improved on both sides of the ball and with some competent QB play from O'Sullivan, why can't the 49ers pull off 8 wins? If anything, they're a better team now than they were last year when they were the trendy pick.
Mike Sando: I wouldn't assume J.T. O'Sullivan will provide competent quarterback play. He might, but we have no evidence of that, unless you're going to rely upon a couple of preseason games against vanilla defenses. The 49ers turned to O'Sullivan almost by default after Alex Smith and Shaun Hill failed to seize the job. Again, he might become a very good quarterback. I just would not assume that.
Daryl from Alberta, Canada, writes: I'm curious about your take on Antonio Pittman. With Steven Jackson back, the Rams RB depth is pretty well set, but Pittman has shown flashes of being productive and has a couple nice runs as the starter on Saturday. What's his role going to be and what do you make of his future?
Mike Sando: Jackson is going to get the significant carries if healthy. Pittman carried 38 times in 11 games last season. He did look better against the Ravens on Saturday night. Moving into the season, Brian Leonard will also gets some of the leftover carries.
The feeling on Pittman coming out of college was that he could have used another year of seasoning. Instead, Pittman came out early, fell to the fourth round and didn't earn a roster spot with the Saints.
Pittman has a chance to develop into something more than just a forgotten backup, although that's his role as long as Jackson is a dominant runner.
Will from Boston writes: How much work can the Rams realistically expect Steven Jackson, O.J. Atogwe and Orlando Pace to handle in week one? Seems like they may need to platoon each of them for a game or so.
Mike Sando: I think the goal will be to play those guys as normal. Atogwe might be more of a question mark because he's missed so much time. The other guys should be ready. I would expect Jackson to play extensively as long as he's effective.