Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at noon ET!
let's be honest; shaun hill may not be a mistake prone quaterback, but neither was shaun king former buccaneers qb who never got to the next level as a starter because he neve made the big throws whe they needede him to
Mike Sando (11:59 AM)
Shaun King was 14-10 as a starter, including 10-6 over the course of a full season. The 49ers would take 10-6 right now.
Mason (San Diego)
When it comes to the SF 49ers running back, from what you have seen, heard, and know, do you believe that week 1 had more to do with a weak OL, or better defensive schemes, and if so what would make you believe that this is going to happen again or not?Thanks Mike appreciate your efforts with our teams in the NFC West, wish ESPN would do the same with baseball.
Mike Sando (12:00 PM)
The 49ers' guards looked slow and overmatched from what I saw (and I will be watching again to verify some things, hopefully tonight). The Cardinals did some good things scheme-wise. The run blitzes with Gerald Hayes set the tone early. Frank Gore actually ran the ball halfway decently on first down. Seems to me the 49ers need to mix up the playcalling more.
Kevin (Newtown, PA)
Sando - Love your hard work. Do you think Aaron Curry will look like a man-beast again this week? SF is a much better team than STL.
Mike Sando (12:02 PM)
Thanks, Kevin. I do expect more of the same swagger from Curry. It's not that he dominated against the Rams. He just helped set the tone.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O! Im not jumping off the Warner bandwagon yet, but I was wondering if there are any rumors of Whiz looking at Leinart. When Leinart was the starter in preseason last year, Whiz said the best QB will play, so Id be shocked if he didnt have the same attitude this year. Also, what is the deal with Warner's hip injury? Is it similar to the one that forced Neil Lommax into retirement?
Mike Sando (12:06 PM)
Kurt Warner is the quarterback. Ken Whisenhunt would not consider a change this early in the season. Warner would have to perform horribly over multiple weeks, I suspect. The money Arizona committed to Warner makes him the starter. You are onto something in a broader context, though. I'm interested in seeing how quickly Whisenhunt takes the offense toward the Pittsburgh model. We all know Warner isn't comfortable running that style of offense. Moving Beanie Wells into the lineup could help Warner, I think, because Tim Hightower appears less suited to running from one-back sets. If Wells is better from one-back sets -- and I'm pretty confident he would be -- the Cardinals could keep three receivers on the field along with a tight end. Seems to me this is where the offense needs to head.
Are the Rams as bad as they looked on Sunday? How many wins do you forecast for this season?
Mike Sando (12:07 PM)
The Rams were not as bad as the final score. This was not a wire-to-wire shellacking, in other words. But I still have a hard time finding four or five victories on the schedule.
Given that no one really expected the Cardinals to run the conference like last year, how do you see the early in conference wins of the Niners and Seahawks affecting the overall battle to win the NFC West?
Mike Sando (12:09 PM)
Losing at home to the 49ers was problematic for the Cardinals. Seattle or San Francisco will be 2-0. For the Cardinals, losing to the 49ers ups the ante for their next two games (at Jacksonville, home against the Colts). The Seahawks or 49ers could really put the pressure on Arizona over the next couple weeks. Home losses within the division hurt.
Hey Mike,It's only Week 2 and the Niners/Seahawks game feels like a battle for bragging rights to the NFC West title. What 3 things do you feel the Niners need to do to come out on top?
Mike Sando (12:12 PM)
1) Continue playing excellent coverage. Matt Hasselbeck threw a couple picks early against the Rams. The Rams had a good plan and the right safety to execute it in Oshiomogho Atogwe. The 49ers moved Dashon Goldson into the lineup at safety because they wanted more playmaking. This would be a good week for Goldson to reward the decision. 2) Incorporate the forward pass into the game plan more seamlessly. 3) Be the more physical team.
I was wondering how good of a chance you give the Niners this weekend against the Hawks.....do you think they're defense can be as sharp against Hasselback as they were against Warner? How about a final score guess?
Mike Sando (12:15 PM)
I had a couple scenarios in my head before Week 1. If the 49ers lost at Arizona, I expected them to bounce back with a victory over Seattle in Week 2. I was less certain what would happen if they won at Arizona. This is all based purely on feel, so I wouldn't put it out there as analysis. I do think the 49ers will need to score more points to beat teams with decent offenses. I think they have a good chance against the Seahawks, but the game could go either way.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
When do you see Walt Jones and Chris Spencer returning? What do you think the Hawks starting O-Line will look like with the return of both guys?
Mike Sando (12:16 PM)
I could see Jones back in the lineup for Week 3. He starts whenever he is ready. I'm not 100 percent sure what they would do with Spencer in terms of moving him back into the lineup right away. The line becomes more physically gifted with those players starting. Continuity takes a hit in the short term.
Do you think the Rams have a chance to be worse than the Lions this year?
Mike Sando (12:17 PM)
Yes. At least the Lions scored points in their opener. The Rams have gone quite young. The Lions are one of the oldest teams in the league. I'd rather be rebuilding and young than rebuilding and old, even if the older team were better short term.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Do you see Will Herring having to share snaps with D.D. Lewis? Herring was all over the field last week against the Rams while Lewis was at home.
Mike Sando (12:18 PM)
I think the job is Herring's to lose while Leroy Hill recovers from injury.
Eric (Charlottesville, VA)
Hey Mike! I was just wondering IF Mr. Crabtree signs, how long would it be until he sees action on the field? Is the time frame between sign and play really different between a rookie like Crabtree and a veteran like Hank Baskett assuming all things are equal (ie previous system, health, etc)? ps I enjoyed your ranking of the stadiums- Candlestick is a dump but I love going and feeling all of history from the 49ers and the Giants.
Mike Sando (12:19 PM)
The 49ers would ask for and receive a roster exemption allowing Crabtree to practice for at least a week before joining the 53-man roster. Then I think the 49ers would work him into the rotation slowly. It's not like the team has tried to establish a high-powered passing game.
Jim (St Louis)
I am worried about Steven Jackson's production with this Rams team. Do you think he will still be able to put up good numbers this week/season?
Mike Sando (12:20 PM)
Jackson should have good numbers by season's end. One game isn't much to go on.
Chris (Grantsville (utah)
so when the niners beat the seahawks are you gonna give them any respoect or will you say something like it was the seahawks that lost the game instead of just admitting the niners can win the division
Mike Sando (12:21 PM)
The 49ers can win the division if they start 2-0 or even if they start 1-1. Did anyone say they could not win the division? I've projected them to finish in that 8-8 range, which would be right there.
Finny (Marietta, GA)
What are your predictions for the division after Week 1. Are they still the same or did they change after week 1. Thanks. Keep up the great work. Love the blog. Easy for me in ATL to keep up with my Seahawks
Mike Sando (12:23 PM)
Thanks! The first week of the season affirmed questions I had about the Cardinals. I had moved them down six spots in my power rankings one week before the opener.
Chris (Grantsville (utah)
I heard you on Collin Clowherd show I want to know why it all skill that the seahawks wins a worthless team in the rams and shows there back but the niners win the nfc champs and it was arizona to lose and the niners are still nothing and that is the way it came across so i want to know why you are so tuff on the niners your ready to put them 3rd after a dominating display of defense
Mike Sando (12:24 PM)
The Cardinals were horrible offensively and the 49ers were not a lot better.
Oz (ft lauderdale, FL)
Was the Cardinals defensive effort more indicative of the new DC and scheme or the was it the offense we were playing? I tend to think the 9ers offense is better then people think (smashmouth OL, running backs galore) but people discount them die to their QB. I have said it once and I will say it again. Shaun Hill doesn't earn many style points but he sure as hell can manage a game well and win with that style of ball. What are your thoughts on the Cardinal defense last week?
Mike Sando (12:26 PM)
The Cardinals' front seven seemed to play well throughout the game. The 49ers' offensive line also played poorly, so that was a factor. I thought Bryant McFadden had a rough game in the secondary for Arizona.
Do you think Hightower is actually going to be a part of the Cards' passing game this year or was Sunday a fluke?
Mike Sando (12:27 PM)
It was fluky to have Tim Hightower catch that many passes. The Cardinals will surely make adjustments so they can feed the ball to their receivers.
Hi Mike watching a replay of the Cards Niners game I noticed that Coach Singletary had a stop watch. Do you know why? thx
Mike Sando (12:29 PM)
I saw that as well and figured it helped with clock management. Not 100 percent sure though.
Mike- Is that a recent pic?? You must get carded hard when picking up some beer!
Mike Sando (12:30 PM)
I was 35 years old in that photo and am 39 now. I drink fewer than five beers a year but have been carded a high percentage of the time. My dad used to call ahead to the store and ask the guy to card him in front of his younger brothers. I would not have to make such arrangements.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
I didn't see the Rams game at all (not even highlights). To what degree can they overcome lack of talent with passion and physicalness? Can they be the more physical team game in and game out? Did they out-muscle Seattle more often than not but got beat by more skillful players? Help me out here. I know it is only one game but ...
Mike Sando (12:33 PM)
The Rams were not the more physical team, but neither did they back down. They played with spirit and fought back. They should be scrappy. The offensive line has the potential to be quite physical at center, right guard and right tackle.
I have heard a lot of talk about the 49ers trading Crabtrees rights,but who would trade for him with those contract demands?
Mike Sando (12:34 PM)
The deadline for trading unsigned drafted players passed Aug. 14. If Crabtree remained unsigned, the team could not trade him until the spring.
Adam (Gettysburg Pa)
Mike, ESPN reported yesterday that the 49ers want to have a face to face with Crabtree. Will he man up and sit down to talk or so you really think he will sit out, i dont see how he can possibly improve his situation by taking the year off.
Mike Sando (12:36 PM)
"Manning up" really isn't part of any feasible negotiating strategy. I think the 49ers were posturing in an effort to put pressure on Crabtree. I'd be shocked if Crabtree's agent agreed to such a meeting.
EB (LA, Ca)
Mike, how will the loss of Leroy Hill effect Seattle's defensive scheme against the 49er's?
Mike Sando (12:38 PM)
I do not think the team will have to alter its scheme for Will Herring. It's not like they ran the defense through Leroy Hill or asked Hill to pull off highly complicated feats. Lofa Tatupu is the brains of the defense at linebacker. Losing him would force more adjustments.
Jon (Omaha, NE)
Hi Mike, read the NFC West page every day, good work. Huge win for the 49ers, I was anticipating this game for months knowing the Niners are as good if not better than the rest of the teams in the west. I know its only one week, but how do you feel about the chances the Niners could steal the division with AZ not looking like the team of a year ago, the Rams just looking awful, and the Seahawks taking a while themselves to get going in week 1.
Mike Sando (12:40 PM)
I expect the 49ers to remain competitive in the division race even though their offensive performance in Week 1 arguably produced more questions than answers. It's huge for the 49ers if they can beat the Seahawks while remaining true to the identity Mike Singletary is so "stubborn" about establishing (his words).
Do you think the Cards will finish 3rd in the division? I think they are way over rated. No D to speak of and their run game is garbage. I firmly believe last year was a fluke and they will continue to fight out for last in the division with the Rams for years to come.
Mike Sando (12:41 PM)
That is much easier to say after Week 1 than before Week 1. Let's see where the Cardinals stand after the first three weeks of the season.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
After game one, grade the Rams' important players (Bulger, Jackson, Smith, O-line in general, Long, Laurinaitis, Atogwe).
Mike Sando (12:44 PM)
Marc Bulger: only OK, but at least he is playing. The finger didn't seem to prevent him from making throws. Steven Jackson: He will be fine. Jason Smith: Improving, looking much better than he did against the Falcons in preseason. Offensive line in general: a little disappointing in the run game and they need to clean up some protection issues up the middle. The tackles held up pretty well, though. Chris Long: I see occasional flashes, but nothing to suggest he's going to have a big season. James Laurinaitis: Should start for a long time. Oshiomogho Atogwe: Outstanding and fun to watch. All over the place in coverage. Seems to be well suited for the scheme. Tricky to block in the run game.
Cpl Peak (US Marine)
Do you think if the 49ers could have there 10th pick over they would still sighn the potential star in crabtree or safer pick like orakpo
Mike Sando (12:45 PM)
Depends how long Crabtree stays away. If he misses the first half of the season, I think the 49ers would have headed in another direction. But if he were to sign soon, they might not change anything.
Crabtree's position seems to defy all logic, if its truly just about money. Do you think he just doesn't want to play for the 49ers? Any news on this front that's new?
Mike Sando (12:48 PM)
One theory: Crabtree could be trying to get more favorable incentive clauses based on expectations for this passing game under Jimmy Raye. Rookies need to hit incentives to maximize their contracts. A wide receiver could have a hard time reaching generally established incentives in this style of offense. The leading receiver on each of the 12 Raye-coordinated offenses averaged 55 receptions per year. That is not much by NFL standards.
Anthony (Bowling Green KY)
how did former 1st round pick balmer look in the cards game. I didnt see him on the field to much.
Mike Sando (12:49 PM)
Ray McDonald's return seemed to reduce Kentwan Balmer's role. I did not notice him much.
Anthony (Bowling Green KY)
Who do you think had a better defensive game. The Cards did a good job of shuuting down a power run game but the niners shut down a high powered passing attack. The Cards gaines more yeard but the Niners won the game. Who do you give the edge to?
Mike Sando (12:50 PM)
Give the edge to the 49ers because they held down an established NFL offense. Yes, the Cardinals had some issues independent of the 49ers, but the 49ers prevented Arizona from finding a rhythm. I suspect more teams could have held the 49ers' offense in check.
hey mike- not completely surprised/discouraged by Rams loss to seahawks but our offensde is in serious trouble in my opinion.very disappointed with our supposed improved OLine. Not that seattle front four are adequate but our line was pushed back all game/ this does not bode well at all with haynesworth licking his chops this week?
Mike Sando (12:52 PM)
Jason Brown spoke during the offseason about how Albert Haynesworth wears down over the course of a game. I'm with you. Brown had a so-so game, I thought, and was not a difference maker. The Seahawks do have an improved front. Still, I was expecting more from the Rams on the offensive line.
nick (new york)
sando, when people talk about the seahawks they still refer to them as a finesse team. with one of the largest front 7s in the league and the presence of one of the most dominating linemen ever, when will this change? here in NYC i get the feeling all we would hear about is how tough these guys were if they played here.
Mike Sando (12:55 PM)
The Seahawks do have one of the heaviest front sevens in the league. Did you see anything special from Patrick Kerney in the opener? I did not see him making a big difference as a pass rusher. He could need time to get back into a groove. Cory Redding was a major force during training camp practices, but not so much Sunday. Let's see how this defensive front performs over the course of several games and against better offenses and away from Qwest Field.
Mike Sando (12:57 PM)
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