Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
hey mike big fan of your work. i just wanted to know who's the favorite at this point to be the Niners' starting corner opposite Nate Clements. thanks man
Mike Sando (4:01 PM)
Tarell Brown needs to get on the field and stay there to grab this job. Otherwise I think he's making it too easy for Dre Bly.
Marco (Las Cruces)
Your ceiling on the Niners thus far has been 7-9/9-7, would I be okay in assuming that you're expecting Shaun Hill to start at QB? If Alex Smith ends up being the starter ahead of Hill, being that he would have to outplay him significantly to put him in that role what would you expect out of the Niners this season with Smith at the helm? Any better than the 9-7/7-9 forecast? Keep up the great work as usual.
Mike Sando (4:02 PM)
Thanks. I'm not sure what I would expect with Alex Smith at quarterback. Would he be consistent? Would he finally avoid injuries? If he played at a high level all season, the ceiling does rise.
Jamie (San Jose)
What part of the Bay are you from?
Mike Sando (4:02 PM)
Grew up in Sacramento.
Mike,Do you think the Rams have any chance at improving on last years record. Also since this is clearly the weakest division in the NFL if they do improve do they have a chance at making the playoffs
Mike Sando (4:03 PM)
I will be stunned if the Rams' record does not improve. While I have questions about their depth, they did improve on the offensive line and I think that gives them a chance to be more competitive. Look for them to win a couple games in the division, for sure.
If Dre Bly breaks out this season, Do you think the 49ers will give him an extention, even if Walt Harris is might comeback next season?
Mike Sando (4:04 PM)
Not sure how Walt Harris could come back at this stage of his career. He was nearing the end anyway. If Bly plays lights out, sure, they could extend him. He's playing on a minimum one-year deal with a $20,000 roster bonus.
Trufant... this "minor" back issue that has lead to the Seahawks to make the ?precautionary? move of keeping him out of practice for 2 weeks seems to not ring completely true. Any news on it and is this just the Hawks being overly protective or is this a real issue that needs to be a major concern?
Mike Sando (4:06 PM)
The fact that the Seahawks are being this protective tells you the injury is not something to just shrug off. The story becomes a much bigger deal if he misses another couple weeks. As the Matt Hasselbeck situation showed last week, back injuries can be hard to diagnose and hard to fix.
Do you see Ahmad Brooks getting a chance to start? Is he really looking that sharp in camp playing OLB?
Mike Sando (4:07 PM)
Start? Hmmm. The 49ers did send some money Parys Haralson's way. Looks like Haralson and Manny Lawson will be the starters. Brooks has to sustain this through camp to fully earn the trust of the staff. I think it's an upset if he starts.
James (Israel )
Hey Sando, Do you think a game against a bronco team with so many glaring holes and questions and a defense that has yet to gel is going to help determine the QB race in San Fran???
Mike Sando (4:09 PM)
Yes, it's going to help determine how the QB race goes. Alex Smith cannot afford a poor performance against anyone this summer.
Josh (Irvine, CA)
Is it safe to say that Bulger's time with the RAMS is near it's end? Sure seems like another year of struggles would force the RAMS hand to draft Bradford or McCoy next year, right?
Mike Sando (4:09 PM)
Another year of struggles would likely end his association with the Rams. I would not write him off just yet, though. The Rams did try to improve their offensive line, so Bulger has at least a shot at improving.
With the addition of CB Travis Fisher, it leads me to ask how serious is Marcus Trufant's back injury? I've heard it's a sore back, but shouldn't be have returned to practice by now?
Mike Sando (4:11 PM)
The Seahawks were already short on cornerbacks in camp even if Trufant had been healthy. So they needed the numbers. That said, it's worth noting that Seattle went out and signed a veteran, not a player to develop. They needed some measure of insurance against losing Trufant. Fisher provided that more than a rookie prospect would have provided it.
Ralph (Northern Ireland)
Hey Mike, even though you don't cover my team's division I really appreciate the amount of work you do for the ESPN Blog network generally. Anyway, who do you think the Crabtree situation hurts the most, the 49er's or Crabtree himself? As Jeremy Green said in "Football Today" recently, MS doesn't get caught up with reputation, so I'm thinking Crabtree is putting his rookie season in grave danger
Mike Sando (4:13 PM)
Thanks, Ralph. This situation clearly hurts Crabtree more than it hurts the 49ers. It would hurt the 49ers more if Crabtree were a quarterback or if they were counting on him to start at left tackle, for instance. But this team can get by with its current receivers.
Brett (Tempe, AZ)
How do you feel about Dominique Byrd? Do you think he will have any impact this year for the cards?
Mike Sando (4:14 PM)
I saw him as a complete long shot when the Cardinals signed him. I think he has proven to be more than that and he does have at least a chance to stick around. But I do not see him making a big impact on the Cardinals. This is a receiver-oriented team. It's a weird situation given Ben Patrick's suspension.
Mike,with the current lack of depth and health issues with the Hawks O Line, do you see them going after anyone after teams make cuts? Is this an option or are we stuck with what we got? I am not feeling too confident right now. Help me please.
Mike Sando (4:15 PM)
I don't see that as a likely avenue without further injuries on the line.
Who is going to carry the rushing load in Seattle this year? Do they have a back that can top 1,000 yards?
Mike Sando (4:15 PM)
I think Julius Jones can rush for 1,000 yards in this offense.
Sando, Do you think St Peirre will get to play with the second team next week ahead of lienart or has the decision at backup already been made in lienarts favor?
Mike Sando (4:16 PM)
Ken Whisenhunt did say Brian St. Pierre would be the first quarterback off the bench in the next exhibition game. That was the plan.
Mike, I read today that the Seahawks plan to use Curry all over the field in their first preseason game, including time at defensive end to rush the passer. Is this a sign of things to come for Curry or are they just testing the waters?
Mike Sando (4:17 PM)
Both. Curry impressed the Seahawks all offseason. He showed abilities they weren't sure existed. They haven't gotten many chances to see Curry in camp because he was late in reporting. The preseason games give the team a perfect chance to count the ways Curry can help their defense.
Michael (Los Angeles)
49ers fan here. Didn't Jason Hill get nicked up earlier in the off season? Is that what has been setting him back? learning the new offense (Again)? Perhaps he will look like he did at the end of last year once he catches up. What do you think?
Mike Sando (4:19 PM)
Jason Hill did have some injury issues this offseason, including a hamstring problem. I hardly noticed him when I visited the 49ers' camp. Preseason would be a good opportunity for him to step forward.
Although they added Curry who MAY be good in years to come, are the Seahawks underestimating the loss of Julian Peterson?
Mike Sando (4:20 PM)
The expectation is that Curry will be good right now. They figured now was the time to part with Julian Peterson as an older player with a high price tag and declining or soon-to-be declining abilities. What I've seen from Cory Redding makes me think that trade could work out OK for Seattle.
I am not sure if you realize this but this new blog setup that ESPN have been doing has DRAMATICALLY increased some of the animosity between the teams in this division... well not against the Rams but it is hard to get angry a group of people you feel so sorry for. It has started to remind me of the old days when the Hawks down right HATED their division rivals. Still can't stand those Raiders. Good Job and keep up the good work.
Mike Sando (4:22 PM)
Glad to hear we're causing hard feelings! Seriously, though, rivalries are a good thing. They make winning more fun and losing harder to take. I was a Raiders fan years ago. My roommate was a Broncos fan. I remember Jeff Jaeger nailing an overtime field goal from 50-plus at Mile High Stadium sometime in the early 90s. My roommate and I nearly got into it. I taunted him so badly. Totally uncalled for in retrospect, but lots of fun.
How does Laurenaitis look so far at MLB in St. Louis? Do you think he will have a monster year?
Mike Sando (4:23 PM)
Laurinaitis looks the part. The Rams should be encouraged by what they see. Not sure about a "monster" year but I can see why they drafted him. Should start right away.
Steven Jackson will play in __________ games this year.
Mike Sando (4:24 PM)
"fewer than 16"
If the Seahawks finish with another 4-12ish season, are Ruskell, Mora and crew gone? And if so, would they bring Holmgren back in 2010 or look elsewhere?
Mike Sando (4:25 PM)
I don't think the Seahawks would fire Mora after just one season. Tim Ruskell would be in greater danger given that he's been there awhile.
Mike, thanks for being a consummate professional in your coverage of the NFL; I've been a fan for quite a while. I'm a little concerned about Ray Willis' needing continued rest for his knee problems. Any insight on what is going on there. The Hawks appear to be walking a thin line regarding their o-line and the health of the starters and backups. If another o-lineman were to go down to injury, do you think they would look to the current players on their roster, or look to bring someone in. Is there anyone out there they have brought in to look at recently?
Mike Sando (4:28 PM)
Thanks for the support. Much appreciated. I was a little surprised the Seahawks brought in Cory Withrow and Grey Ruegamer from their "ready list" of free-agent offensive linemen. Those guys appear to be near the very end, not guys you would plug into the lineup for 10 games if necessary. I do not know the long-range implications with Ray Willis' knee situation. The Seahawks could afford one more injury to a starter as long as Walter Jones were available.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, I enjoy your NFC West insight! As a 49ers fan, what should I most be looking for besides the QB battle?
Mike Sando (4:29 PM)
Thanks. Got you covered right here.
How good will the niners o-line be this season? They have no where to go but up...
Mike Sando (4:30 PM)
Let's make sure we blame some of their problems on the Mike Martz offense and its seven-step drops. The 49ers have a run-blocking line. These guys are not going to hold up for long periods in pass protection. The line should fare better based on scheme changes alone. I also think it's natural to expect improvement from Chilo Rachal at right guard. Adam Snyder and the situation at right tackle are key. The 49ers should be encouraged by what Snyder has shown them, but we still cannot say for sure if the team is settled in that spot.
How safe is the niners' GM job? He hasn't exactly had a lot of "hits" in the draft?
Mike Sando (4:31 PM)
We should know more after this season. Alex Smith, Manny Lawson, Kentwan Balmer, Vernon Davis -- all first-round picks with something to prove.
Jason S. (Greeley, CO)
Who would you pick in a fight between Hines Ward and Anquan Boldin?
Mike Sando (4:32 PM)
I saw that question on TV last night. I'll go with Hines Ward on a majority decision.
Mike, Would you say Kelly Jennings is a bust at this point?
Mike Sando (4:33 PM)
A first-round pick should be starting by his third season. I would say it's fair to call him a disappointment. An outright bust would be someone with no chance at helping his team. I think Jennings is good enough to help the team, just not in the desired capacity, it appears.
Ken (Scottdale, AZ)
Cailas Campbell looks like he might make people forget about Antonio Smith? Which shouldn't be too hard.
Mike Sando (4:34 PM)
So far, so good. It's only one game, of course, and I'm sure Campbell was fired up. This first exhibition game was bigger for him than it was for, say, Steelers tackle Max Starks.
Hey Mike, do you think Jason Smith will be a starter on the line Week 1 against the hawks?
Mike Sando (4:35 PM)
Yes. Not based on anything I know, but something is wrong if the No. 2 overall pick cannot start for a team coming off a 2-14 season. It's not like Smith is playing behind a legend in Adam Goldberg.
The 49ers overall defense will finish in the top 5, 10, 20? And why?
Mike Sando (4:36 PM)
I'll give the 49ers' defense a legit shot at the top 10 because the offense will play smarter, giving up fewer turnovers, and the front seven is a pretty strong one. Patrick Willis is a great young player. Justin Smith also brings quite a bit. Love the way he plays.
Terry (Bastrop, Texas)
Hey Mike, would you say players are going to follow Tom Bradys lead and get in more reps in preseason or take it easy and not risk injury
Mike Sando (4:37 PM)
Don't asky me why, but I actually watched the start of the Chiefs-Patriots game from Week 1 last season. In the early stages of the game, the announcers noted that Brady did not play a snap in the preseason. Didn't exactly shield him from injury, did it? I pass that along in place of an actual answer to your question.
Mike Sando (4:38 PM)
Clarification: I rewatched the start of that Chiefs-Patriots game today, by chance.
Is Michael Crabtree the best WR of all-time? He has to be right? Just ask his cousin...
Mike Sando (4:39 PM)
Michael Crabtree is certainly one of the six or seven best receivers on the 49ers right now. Check that: He technically is not on the 49ers.
KING KEVIN (Austin, Texas)
Why wont the NFL do anything about the west coast teams, like Seattle, having to play what amounts to a 10am game when they travel to the East coast for the early games? Why cant they schedule any east coast games for the 4pm est slot
Mike Sando (4:39 PM)
It's not a big deal to the league. The league things there isn't compelling evidence to show it makes a difference.
Joe (St. Louis)
What are your early impressions of Coach Spags and how about an early prediction for the Rams record this year?
Mike Sando (4:43 PM)
Spagnuolo has taken control of that team. The players seem to respect him and appreciate his efforts. Spagnuolo seems sharp. He will need to manage game situations and personnel-related situations well to remain an effective leader. Spagnuolo seems to be involved in everything. He's not just a defensive head coach. I think he'll learn some lessons this year, but his pedigree -- working for Coughlin and Reid -- should serve him well. My initial impression is positive. For the Rams' record, I've been putting them in that 6-10 range based on depth issues.
I agree with King Kevin...as a Seahawks fan it is simpy unfair to travel to the east coast and play early games, and in fact the numbers prove it. Thats why you hear the analysts on espn talk about it every single week, and right when the schedules come out. Its the first thing they look for for crying out loud!
Mike Sando (4:45 PM)
I also think it's an issue, but the early starts, by themselves, aren't the only problem. NFC West teams have consistently won in 10 a.m. PT starts at St. Louis.
KING KEVIN (Austin, Texas)
I think...wait know, Seattle will have the most improved Defense and maybe one of the best in the league not just division. The only concern I have is their safeties. What is your take on the 2 Seahawk starters and is their a backup that could shine?
Mike Sando (4:47 PM)
Safeties get exposed when opposing quarterbacks have time to find their receivers. Looks to me as though the two starters from last season are still as good or better than anyone who would replace them. Seattle needs to draft a difference-maker at that position, in my view.
Daniel (St. Louis)
Have you heard anything about the Rams and WR? Are they going to try out any free agents or do they know the passing games is crappy and just going to stick to running.
Mike Sando (4:48 PM)
The Rams do not have immediate plans to sign anyone else at the position. That could change pending additional injuries. Right now, the Rams are hoping Donnie Avery can return in time for the opener.
Give us a prediction on Beannie Wells' total yardage and TDs for the year.
Mike Sando (4:49 PM)
I saw him gain about 300 yards in training camp, but he was riding on a cart and heading for the training room. If he's healthy all year, I think he can approach 1,000 yards in that offense.
John (Arlington, VA)
Do you see Stephen Jackson having a big year? Do you see him getting hurt.
Mike Sando (4:50 PM)
Yes and probably yes. Big-time talent. I expect him to catch a lot of passes, too.
Daniel (St. Louis)
Nice cheep shot at the rams, "NFC West teams have consistently won in 10 a.m. PT starts at St. Louis". West teams couldn't win a lick here in the early part of the decade.
Mike Sando (4:51 PM)
My point exactly. It had little nothing to do with 10 a.m. PT starts and everything to do with the talent assembled.
What are you looking for from the Rams in tonights preseason game? Also, do you know the details and severity of Donnie Avery's injury?
Mike Sando (4:53 PM)
What to watch? Got you covered right here. As for Avery, he has a broken fourth metatarsal in his left foot. Rams said he'll be back in 4-6 weeks. I suspect he'll miss a game or two in the regular season, just because he'll need time to get back up to speed.
Eric (Pembroke, VA)
Hey Mike- I'm a big fan of your blog. As you've made the rounds around camps, has any player wowed you and made you think that they are going to make a big splash this season?
Mike Sando (4:54 PM)
Josh Morgan of the 49ers and possibly Cory Redding of the Seahawks. Those two come to mind. Both should get lots of playing time.
What did you think about Steve Youngs comments on ESPN last night about Matt Hasselbeck? And his assesment of the Seahawks D as the best in the division?
Mike Sando (4:55 PM)
Steve Young is a quarterback at heart and he's been in Matt Hasselbeck's position, bouncing back from an injury when people question whether you can come back. I know the Seahawks hope Steve Young is correct.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, love you on the Football Today podcast! Is Jeremy Green a cool a guy as he sounds?
Mike Sando (4:56 PM)
For those who might be wondering, Jeremy's nickname is "Craig" and he does live in the Fairfield area. Kidding, of course. I do enjoy the podcasts with JG.
joey (Rutland vt)
who r you looking for to b qb in san fran
Mike Sando (4:58 PM)
Shaun Hill is most deserving of the starting job. I am more curious to see what Alex Smith might offer. That's an issue we are currently discussing on the blog.
Mike Sando (5:00 PM)
The Hill-Smith discussion actually began on my Facebook page. Add me as a friend and you can help shape the discussion.
Mike Sando (5:01 PM)
That's all for this chat. Thanks for participating. Thanks also to the nearly 6,000 people who are following the blog via Twitter.