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Sunday, July 26, 2009
Mailbag: West Coast outrage over three-day draft


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt from Kirkland, Wash., writes: So, what's up with Roger Goodell ruining the draft? I mean, it's not like on draft day me and my buddies all got together, ate wings, nachos, drank a few cold ones and enjoyed the day of football. Now that it's on Thursdays, I'll watch the first round, go to bed and wake up the next day and go to work.

Well, I guess since no one cares about rounds 4-7, anyway, I'll be free the third weekend in April. Way to ruin a good thing, Rog. While you're changing things up, how about making West Coast teams traveling East play at 4 p.m. ET so they actually have a shot?

Mike Sando: My guess is that prime-time advertising proved too tempting. I haven't experienced the draft as a fan -- with wings, cold ones and friends -- for quite a few years. Thanks for sharing what will be lost. Bummer from that perspective.


Ricky from Shelton, Wash., writes: Thursday? Friday? Hello! West Coast here. Is the plan to eliminate a quarter of the fan base? I am one of those guys where the draft is like another Christmas day. When the Super Bowl is over and the Lombardi Trophy is held high and the season is officially over, my obsession begins. I will be checking the blogs and web sites for just a morsel of information regarding players and who my team, the Seahawks, will pick.

I will be surfing extensively the internet for any scraps of information. I just got to know. Draft day is planned with precision weeks in advance so my total focus is the NFL DRAFT. I can dodge the to-do list and the wife, if required. I cannot dodge work or justifiably leave early. Either you like the draft or you do not.

Mike Sando: You and Matt from Kirkland need to get together on draft day. I mean, night(s).


Jim from parts unknown writes: Sando, is there a site or someone with the NFL that we can voice our displeasure to about the change in draft time?

Mike Sando: Check out commissioner Roger Goodell on Twitter and reply to him.


Greg from Seattle writes: I've got to admit, I don't care much for the three-day draft. First and foremost, for those of us who don't make our living on football (and yes, we are envious), it eats up three days to seriously follow. But beyond that, I am sure the timing of the draft will be East Coast-friendly, probably starting around 4 p.m. PT two nights in a row. That means many NFC West fans will miss the better part of the first 10 picks, if not more, wrapping up the work day.

Mike Sando: Watching on the DVR won't carry the same level of drama.


Marco from Las Cruces, N.M., writes: How strong of an arm does a QB need to play in the NFL? Particularly for [49ers coordinator Jimmy] Raye? I keep hearing a knock on Hill about lacking arm strength, but how far does he really need to throw it? Fifty-yard passes aren't the norm and I know it's a video game, but his throwing power on Madden wasn't that far behind Alex Smith.

Is it being able to heave it 50 yards downfield when called upon or the velocity on the ball when needing to zip it into tight coverage? Is this a real knock on Hill or a perceived knock? Is there any proof one way or another? Thanks for all the great work, as usual.

Mike Sando: Arm strength isn't hugely important. Here is what Todd Haley's dad, longtime scout Dick Haley, said for a package I wrote about great quarterbacks:

I've seen so many strong-armed guys go through our league and never make a dent because they just were not accurate enough and it took them too long to throw it.

So many other factors go into the position. When a quarterback delivers the ball, and how accurately, can offset the weakness of the arm delivering it. We still need to see over time how well Hill handles those other things. If he is just so-so in those areas, the lack of arm strength could hurt him more than it otherwise would.


Brent from Amarillo, Texas, writes: I wanted to get your input on the wide receivers in the NFC West. My thinking is that the receiver with the best stats for the Niners will be Josh Morgan (I think he will break out this year as Crabtree will be slowed).

The best receiver for the Cardinals will be Anquan Boldin (he is Kurt Warner's favorite, led the stats until he was hurt last season and will be overlooked because of Larry Fitzgerald). The best receiver for Seattle will be T.J. Houshmandzadeh (for obvious reasons). Donnie Avery will be the leading receiver for the Rams (he showed flashes last year and not many receivers there). This goes against the grain, especially with Boldin.

Mike Sando: Boldin has missed four games in each of the last two seasons. Fitzgerald has played 31 of 32 games over the last two seasons. Unless that changes, an ascending Fitzgerald has a good chance to be the most productive receiver.

The others you mentioned seemed like logical favorites to lead their teams. Avery might face some competition if the Rams throw to underneath to slot players frequently. Randy McMichael's return from injury could also affect distribution. Morgan has shown signs he can become that guy for the 49ers. I wouldn't take it to the bank just yet, but it sounds reasonable.

On a side note, Brent, thanks for mentioning the Rams. I haven't received anything Rams-related in the mailbag since publishing the previous mailbag. Some of this is because the comments sections and my Facebook page provide more efficient ways to interact. Why go to the mailbag when other avenues provide more immediacy?


Mike from St. Louis writes: What is your Twitter ID? I would like to follow you and your NFC West blog. Thanks!

Mike Sando: Happy to oblige. I'm at espn_nfcwest. Following the blog on Twitter means receiving headlines and links alerting you to new blog entries, plus periodic updates. I do not use the Twitter account to tell you what I'm having for breakfast or how my kids are doing.

My use of Twitter is informational, in other words, and it is largely one-way, from me to you. Facebook is better suited for mass interaction, in my view, and I would welcome you to add me as a friend.


Greg from Seattle writes: Mike, I keep hearing that Michael Crabtree (or his agent) might push for more money because he 'should have been' the first receiver picked.

I don't see how they have a leg to stand on with that argument. How many times have players fallen in the draft from where they're projected to go? There is absolutely no way teams can start paying guys according to what the mock drafts said. What's your take on this? Is there any
way, if he's trying to play that card -- as it really hasn't been substantiated yet -- that Crabtree wins out on this one? I don't see it.

Mike Sando: Having a leg to stand on isn't a requirement for trying something in negotiations. I don't know if Crabtree is doing that or not. Rookie contract negotiations carry very little interest to me. We all know these guys will sign with the teams that drafted them, usually in time to attend most or all of training camp. The rest is barely worth our time -- until a player misses large chunks of camp.


B from Walnut Creek, Calif., writes: Not even a mention of Bryant Young from someone covering the NFC West? I expect the rest of the media to wrongfully overlook Young -- the secnd-best defensive tackle of his time after Warren Sapp -- but I expect more out of you Sando. Step up your game!

Mike Sando: I think Bryant Young was better over the course of his career than Warren Sapp. Young should be an easy choice for the Hall of Fame.

Travis from Boise writes: Hey Mike, what do you think the Niners signing Nate Davis to a four-year deal means for Damon Huard? Is it a sign that Davis will make the team or just semantics to make sure he's in camp?

Mike Sando: Davis was going to sign a four-year deal whether or not Huard was on the roster. A refresher from the May 18 mailbag:

The assumption that fifth-round quarterback Nate Davis will earn a spot on the 53-man roster appears sound. NFL teams drafted 19 quarterbacks in the fifth round from the 2000 through 2008 drafts. Eighteen earned opening-day spots on 53-man rosters as rookies. The Steelers' Omar Jacobs was an exception in 2006, the year Ben Roethlisberger opened on the bench following a motorcycle accident.


Mike from Mountain Home, Ark., writes: As a lifetime 49er fan, the past few seasons have been, to say the least, heartbreaking. Finally, it seems that we're back on track. My question to you, Mike, is how successful do you think Shaun Hill would be if he was given the starting QB job from start to finsh? Obviously he should have been the choice last year, but there is a new man in charge!

Mike Sando: I think Hill is good enough to start for the 49ers, but possibly not good enough for the team to stop considering its options at the position beyond this season. It's possible that the 49ers have suffered from poor quarterback play for so long that Hill appears to some a savior by comparison. He did some things well last season. The team responded to him. It makes sense that physical limitations could show up over time. Hill's job is to prove that the 49ers can become a playoff team because of him, not in spite of him.


Adam from Seattle writes: I looked at the free agents unsigned and a question grew in my mind. If the Seahawks' running game doesn't do well or suffers from injuries, would you see the Seahawks picking up Warrick Dunn, Shaun Alexander or some other running back?

Another question about the Seahawks: If their receivers get injured again like last year, do you see them picking up Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson, D.J. Hackett or some other receiver? It's amazing how many of the top receivers and running backs on the market have ties to the Seahawks organization. That helps if the Seahawks have a repeat of last year.

Mike Sando: I do not expect the Seahawks to recycle players from the Mike Holmgren era now that Holmgren has left the organization. Robinson, Jackson, Alexander and Hackett do not know Greg Knapp's offense. For that reason, they would not assimilate much easier than anyone else. I also think Robinson, Jackson and Alexander are nearing or have already reached the ends of their careers. Hackett had a good thing going in Holmgren's system for a while, but I don't think that means a whole lot now.

As for Dunn, I am not sure how much he has left. He would have to be a situational player at this stage of his career.


Kevin from Spanaway, Wash., writes: Mike, I saw your recent post on Frank Gore, and I was actually going to ask you about him on your chat the other day, but couldn't get to a computer in time to do so. I'm curious to know if you feel that the San Francisco offense, well, what do we really know about it at this point? I know zero about the new offensive coordinator and what kind of offensive philosophy (run vs. pass) that they will employ, and so on. It sounds to me like you think Gore will return to his 'feature back' status (a la LaDainian Tomlinson down in San Diego) that he enjoyed a few years ago. Your thoughts?

Mike Sando: The blocking scheme, complete with a traditional fullback, should be similar to the one San Francisco used when Gore was at his best a few years ago. We know Mike Singletary hired Jimmy Raye to run the offense the way Singletary wants the offense run, and we know what Singletary wants from the offense. Gore should get plenty of chances.


Adrian from Tacoma, Wash., writes: I'm a huge Niners fan and I have a question about Jimmy Raye's offense. I read that his record as an offensive coordinator is 67-125 with 20 PPG. Does Mike Singletary's system and/or do the players fit better than any of his previous teams, or are we looking for a similar winning percentage and points per game average?

Mike Sando: The record was 67-125 and the scoring was 18 points per game, according to John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 49ers averaged 21.2 points per game last season. The Seahawks, Chiefs and Jaguars averaged between 18.2 and 18.9 points per game last season. We all know how they fared.

Raye does seem to inherit a team set up to play the way he wants to play. The 49ers' plan is to be smarter in their use of personnel, and to avoid some of the ridiculous lose-from-ahead defeats that plagued them last season, notably at home against the Eagles. Of course, losing from ahead means getting ahead at some point. The 49ers will not have to worry about protecting many leads if they score only 18 points per game.


Kyle from Tempe, Ariz., writes: Hey, Mike. I was wondering which general manager in the NFC West you think has been the most productive since acquiring the title.

Mike Sando: The 49ers' Scot McCloughan has had the title only since January 2008. The Rams' Billy Devaney added the title less than six months ago.

Seattle's Tim Ruskell and Arizona's Rod Graves both went to Super Bowls in the la
st few seasons. The Cardinals' decision to hire Ken Whisenhunt as head coach looks like a very good one. That might give him the edge until we know how Ruskell's hiring of Jim Mora pans out in Seattle.


Barry Bragg from Amherst, Va., writes: I wanted to know your thoughts on Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp. Do you know the Seahawks plan for him? He seems to have made progress each year in the NFL and still has upside at the age of 24, but last year they drafted Lawrence Jackson to seemingly replace him or to be the long-term replacement for Kerney. What are your thoughts on Tapp?

Mike Sando: Tapp is a pretty good pass rusher, but his playing time diminished last season and that could continue as Jackson gains experience and presumably improves.


Eduard from Seattle writes: Hey, Mike,I haven't really kept up with your blogging but was curious if you have talked about the Seahawks' trade with the Denver Broncos. With all that has happened with the Broncos, they are looking like they will have a down year and that means a high draft pick in next year's draft. With that pick and whichever pick the Hawks will get, they can address a QB and maybe even a safety such as Taylor Mays, a local kid from Seattle.

Mike Sando: I wouldn't necessarily just write off the Broncos. Expectations have a record of betrayal in the NFL. That said, I do think Seattle it's likely Seattle will pick up a choice in the first half of the round. If that happens and if the Seahawks' own choice isn't too low, the team could have the flexibility to move up in the round for a quarterback, at least in theory.


Slikk Jr. from Morrow, Ga., writes: What's going on, Sando? If you had a choice of what team Michael Vick should go to from the West, who would it be? To be honest, I wanted the Cardinals to pick him up. Kurt Warner is a great QB, but Matt Leinart can't do the half of what Vick can do. Second question: If you were the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals, would you give Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower split carries or make one of them third-down back?

Mike Sando: I like the idea of a playmaking, mobile backup quarterback. Vick could also benefit from watching someone such as Warner handle the job and life in general. Purely from a football standpoint, Vick would make the most sense playing for the 49ers among all the NFC West teams, based on the fact that San Francisco does not have an established quarterback.


Tanner from California writes: Yo, Sando, why hasn't Seattle picked up Edgerrin James yet? I don't think anyone is overwhelmingly confident with the combination of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. Edge would be a good fit, no?

Mike Sando: James has said he's biding his time and watching the injury reports before signing with a team that suddenly needs a starter.


Josh from Corona, Calif., writes: I saw the stats you posted about Larry Fitzgerald and I want to know what his stats are against the 49ers. The past couple of years, it doesn't seem like he has caught that many balls against the 49ers. It seems like it was more Anquan Boldin.

Mike Sando: Nate Clements has fared better against Fitzgerald than a lot of corners. Fitzgerald has had minimal stats in three of the last four games between the team. He did catch nine passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns in a 2007 game against the 49ers.Boldin has caught quite a few passes in those games, but without racking up many yards.


Jeff from Tacoma writes: Mike, in light of the Seahawks' camp starting in August, I was wondering if you would possibly post your observations/opinions on some of the draft picks that we don't hear much about. For example, does Courtney Greene have what it takes to beat out Jamar Adams or C.J. Wallace as Brian Russell's eventual replacement?

What about Mike Teel or Nick Reed's impact, if any? I know we shouldn't expect much from those seventh-rounders, but any chance they might be players to watch from a developmental standpoint? And for what it is worth, I enjoy reading your blog.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Jeff. Didn't you hear about Russell? The Seahawks named him their starter forever. OK, seriously, I like the suggestion. I'm just unsure how those players might fit given that they have not practiced with the team in pads to this point.


Joe stationed overseas in the Army writes: Sando, as always, the blog is one of the best. Keep up the great work! I was reading the blog [July 21] and read some quotes that caught my eye. David Fucillo of Niners Nation talked about John Brodie as one of the best 49er quarterbacks in history. Then coach [Sean] Payton talked about who he thinks should be in the Hall of Fame. This got me thinking and I had to ask the question that keeps getting asked by the 49er faithful: When will John Brodie get the call to the Hall?

I'm just saying the fact he is not in already make a few of the 49er faithful a little ... spiteful (I'll keep it clean). I know he has the stats. Plus, 17 years as a QB, for one franchise, in a league that was not QB-friendly like today. Is he ever going to get in, or is this a case of no championship, no Hall call? If so, it makes me smile that the man David Fucillo mentioned after Brodie was Y.A. Tittle -- a 49ers great, similar career, HOF, and No Championship.

Mike Sando: Tittle was a seven-time Pro Bowl choice. Brodie made it twice. I'm not trying to build a case against Brodie, but that difference could factor into the voters' thinking. The more time passes, the harder it probably becomes to build a case.


Janice from Roseville, Calif., writes: What's up with Brett Favre?

Mike Sando: Brett who?