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 1 p.m. ET!
Evan (Salt Lake City)
Do you think Crabtree will actually sit out the entire season? What do the 9er's do if he does?
Mike Sando (12:59 PM)
There's a better chance he'll sit out the season than I initially would have thought. But I still think the smart money is on Crabtree signing by mid-November. The smart money hasn't been smart so far, but that is the most logical outcome. If Crabtree doesn't sign by then, I think it's clear he doesn't want to play for the organization and this is about more than money. If Crabtree does sit out the season, the 49ers should try to trade him in March.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Where do we start? How can the Rams be THIS stinking bad? They supposedly improved the offensive line this offseason and have SEVEN entire points to show for it in two games. We are making the 2008 Lions look like a complete team. What happens from here Mike? And who do we start paying attention to in the college ranks for the 1st pick in the draft? Oh one more thing - how does the team pay for ANOTHER top 2 pick? Sorry, but the frustration is a bit overwhelming.
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
So far, the Rams are better defensively than they were last season. Their lack of playmakers at receiver is killing their chances so far. Donnie Avery has been a liability instead of the most explosive player on offense outside Steven Jackson. Avery should have two or three big plays by now. Instead, he lost a crushing fumble inside the 10 on critical second-half drive at Washington. He opened the season by fumbling the opening kickoff. I think the Rams would likely be 1-1 even if they still had Torry Holt on their roster. Avery has let them down so far and it makes me wonder if missing all that time during the preseason set him back.
Tom (San Francisco)
Does Pashos or Synder start?
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Adam Snyder remains the starter and the favorite to continue starting. Mike Singletary said so during his Monday news conference. They could still find snaps for Tony Pashos.
What do the Niners have to do to win this week
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Keep playing excellent defense. Their defense has carried them so far and that must continue. I also think it's important for them to improve in pass protection. That's a huge challenge for them against the Vikings.
Hurt quarterback? check. Crappy tailbacks? check. Deteriorating offensive line? check. Busted up defense? check. Sounds like 2008 all over again for the Seahawks!
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Yes, it does. One difference this season is that the injuries aren't focused on one area. The injuries suffered at receiver last season made it almost impossible to function in the passing game at times. The injuries this season are weakening areas across the board without necessarily obliterating any one position to the degree injuries obliterated the receiver position in 2008.
I believe the 49ers have a defense that will be able to stop Peterson this Sunday. Once he is stopped the Vikings will be forced to throw it. Do you think the 49er secondary can hold their own against Favre? I also think Gore might have a tough time against that Viking D-Line. How do you think the 49ers offense will do this week?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I like the question. Brett Favre has been very efficient so far without attempting much down the field. I thought going into the season that Favre would have a hard time holding up this season. I do think the 49ers' secondary can hold up on the shorter stuff. One thing I'm not sure about is whether the 49ers can get enough pressure consistently.
Brian (Folsom, CA)
It appears that the 49ers have put Goodell in an interesting situation. As the last NFL team to be disciplined for tampering, the 49ers understand the level of evidence necessary for the NFL as previously established by Goodall. If the 49ers provide the NFL with an equivalent level of evidence against the Jets, no matter how flimsy it may be, the NFL has to rule in favor of the 49ers.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Yes, I would tend to agree. The NFL is headquartered in New York and there's a perception among some in the league that the New York teams are favorite sons. That would make a guilty finding sweeter for some, possibly the 49ers among them.
Any news on Gore's injury?..I have Coffee on my bench and have been waiting for the usual Gore injury to happen so the young guy gets his chance to shine. How many touches do you think Coffee will get this week?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Not enough to justify starting him on your fantasy team. I say that knowing it's possible Coffee could break a long one. I just don't think Frank Gore's injury is serious enough to limit him significantly, based on what I saw of him Monday and what the 49ers have said about him. Gore could be needed in pass protection as well.
RAY GORDON REID ( GLENDALE ARIZONA 853O1)
QUESTION TO MIKE SANDO AT 1.20 HI MIKE WILL MATT HASSSELBECK PLAY SUNDAY VS DABEARS
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
I do not think Matt Hasselbeck will play this week. The situation on the offensive line seems tenuous enough to reconsider whether to put a less mobile, injured quarterback in harm's way.
Sando im torn, every year I am excited for my Niners and this year is certaintly no different. Am I getting my hopes up or are the first 2 games a real indicater that we can win this division?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Winning the first two games allows the 49ers to post a better-than-I-expected record in the first half of the start. You should be optimistic but not cocky. It's a long season and Mike Singletary knows this. He is taking a measured approach and not reading too much into the season. I wonder if the physical training camp could catch up with the 49ers later in the season. Singletary thinks it will make them tougher down the stretch.
Steve (Colma, CA)
Mike, all the experts out there seem to be real impressed by the Vikes. Final score aside, they were losing to the two worst teams (in my opinion, edging out the Rams) in the NFL at halftime! Do you think the Vikes may be overrated and that another slow start will be a lot harder to overcome this week?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
Yes, I have considered the Vikings to be a bit overrated so far. I ranked them eighth, as I recall, in the power rankings. Others had them higher. They are a good team. I've been skeptical on Favre and need to guard against downgrading them too much. I did put Favre down the list on my MVP Watch, which angered some people. Overall, though, I think the Vikings have to be pleased with their start, particularly with the Bears and Packers having some problems early.
Deric (Twin Falls, ID)
It's not looking good for my beloved Seahawks. The best news I suppose is that most of the injuries seem short term. Looking outward toward our bye week, how many more wins do you think we need to secure between now and then in order to stay competitive in the division race?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Winning two of the next four games before the bye would leave Seattle in decent position heading into the bye. The team should improve, all things being equal, as players get acclimated to new systems on both sides of the ball. Those four words -- all things being equal -- are key because things will not be equal if injuries sideline key players. Beating the Bears at home this week and the Jaguars at home in Week 5, sandwiched around a likely road loss to the Colts, would leave Seattle at 3-2 heading into a home game against the Cardinals. That would be a good situation for Seattle.
Cassius (North Dakota)
How many injury plagued seasons does it take before you get a new trainer? Do you think the training staff is partially to blame?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Whether or not trainers or conditioning coaches are to blame, I think those would be areas an organization would naturally evaluate and consider tweaking if a team suffered repeated seasons of widespread injuries.
Unger got blown up on one of the first plays in SF. What is your take on his play so far? Do you see him being the long term answer at C or G? This being a contract year for Spencer, how does his injury effect his status with the team?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
The 49ers blew up Max Unger on three plays overall, based on my recollection. That is what you're going to get from a rookies and even veteran offensive linemen on occasion. It's a tough job. I still think the positives outweigh the negatives and Unger is developing into a good player.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Can Shaun Hill lead the Niners while playing from behind? Minnesota will likely be leading towards the later stages of the game?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Shaun Hill passed 13 times during a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals.
Liam (Pleasanton, California)
Hey Mike - What do you think Shaun Hill has to do to make the 49ers front office consider him their QB for the next 5-7 years? I think it will be pretty difficult. As a fan, I would like to see them draft Colt Mcoy or Sneed next year. I think Mcoy could be another Drew Brees.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
The 49ers' reluctance in committing to Shaun Hill stems in part from their hopes for Alex Smith. They used a No. 1 overall choice for Smith and would like to see him develop. That said, 5-7 years is forever. I do not see the 49ers making that kind of commitment even if they signed Hill to a longer-term deal.
Peyton Manning (via mobile)
I dominate the Cards this weekend, right? And I also wanted to say that although you are great, Paul Kuharsky is the greatest ESPN NFL blogger of all-time.
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
When did we hire Paul?
Who do you like to win this week...Chicago or Seattle?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I lean toward the Bears based on the current state of the Seahawks' roster. This is a big test to see if Jim Mora and staff can get more from this banged-up team than the sum of its parts.
Dave (San Francisco)
Mike, I can't seem to figure out what's going on with Jason Hill. Any reason he doesn't play?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
The 49ers are using only two receivers the vast majority of the time. They have abandoned the four-receiver packages Mike Martz used. Hill is not one of the top three receivers on the team. He didn't do much this offseason or during the preseason. He is an afterthought right now.
I already thought that Crabtree was WAY overrated comming out of college anyway, but at this point is it even worth trying to sign him?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Yes, it is worth trying to sign him. Getting him up to speed this season would give him a chance to make a difference in 2010.
Who should get more carries, Beanie or Hightower?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Tim Hightower should get more carries until Beanie Wells shows he can hold onto the ball more consistently. If they are both holding onto the ball consistently, Wells becomes my choice based on what I've seen from him. He moves so well and seems to have big-play ability. Hightower has improved, but Wells makes it look easier.
Mike, after two games, what area do you see is the biggest concern for the Cardinals?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
The situation at tight end has not been very good. Depth concerns at outside linebacker loom while Chike Okeafor battles through a shoulder injury and Cody Brown remains on injured reserve. I thought Jeremy Bridges played well enough against the Jaguars to instill some confidence in the depth at offensive tackle.
Mackay (Pleasant Grove, UT)
So the cardinals have a big win over Jacksonville who only now that the cards beat them is considered a struggling team. Why did they move down in your power rankings? The Colts snuck out wins on both teams and moved up consistantly. Also how does San Fran move up so much when they beat a team without their starting QB and many other important positions? I fear evalutions are based soley on expectations, not on results.
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
The Cardinals rose in my power rankings ballot. A certain AFC South blogger dropped them six spots on his ballot.
How do you think the Cards will stack up against Indy?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
This is a huge test for the Cardinals' defense. Peyton Manning will absolutely shred this defense if the Cardinals lapse into undisciplined ways. Arizona beefed up its cornerback situation during the offseason. Let's see how they fare.
Alex (Boring Property class in law school)
People always say, "if we stop Peterson, then we will beat Minnesota." This implies a.) that putting eight in the box is a new strategy that no other team has tried b.) that the Vikings defense couldn't beat you and c.) that the 49ers stopped Peterson cold before and lost by double digits. How do you think that game will go, since you seem to like SF's chances?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
I never said I liked the 49ers' chances. I think they'll be 2-1 after this game. Can they win? Sure. Is it likely they'll beat a good team on the road in an early game? I do not think so. I think the 49ers' defense is their strength. The key could be whether they can protect the passer. I also think they need to make a play on special teams. That was huge for the Cardinals in Jacksonville last week. A similar play from Manny Lawson could really help the 49ers even up the odds a little.
Cassius (North Dakota)
Although I'm a huge Seahawks fan I will be cheering for the 49rs this week. Since I moved to North Dakota my hatred for the Vikings outweighs the hatred for any of our NFC West rivals. Will you please give your opinion to all of my friends that are Vikings fans on why the 49rs will beat the them this week. You'll be getting a similar question around Nov. 22nd as well. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
How many 49ers fans are living in North Dakota? I'm guessing you're possibly at Minot AFB?
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Sando, predict the rest of the Seahawks season.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
They're a two-sprain favorite against the Bears, a four-fracture favorite at Indianapolis, a three-surgery favorite against the Jaguars ...
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Do the Seahawks have the same trainers as they did last year? If so, I believe something needs to be done. Last year seemed like a fluke but the same thing is going on this year. What gives?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
The Seahawks have had the same trainer, Sam Ramsden, for several years now, not just the last two seasons.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Who's playing well for the Rams on the line? Is the rookie (Scott) getting much time? Is he a talent or just another no name that will be replaced as the team rebuilds?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
Clifton Ryan caught my attention in the red zone against the Redskins. Gary Gibson has been better than I might have guessed. How you view Chris Long depends upon whether you put him in context of the draft choice used to select him. I don't see him becoming a dynamic pass rusher. He made a nice play sniffing out the screen against the Redskins, but that isn't why you draft a guy that early. The line needs to get more pass rush across the board.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Is Avery even getting open? Laurent Robinson is doing everything we had hoped and more. Without a deep threat of some kind, however, the Rams are just flat. Is the problem Avery? Bulger? Scheme?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
I think Avery has been the biggest disappointment to this point. He dropped a ball that was slightly behind him Sunday. Receivers have to make plays. That sounds like a cliche, but here is what I mean: The aforementioned pass was a little behind Avery, but a good receiver still needs to make that play. He needs to turn nothing into something. I'm not seeing the Rams' receivers do that at all.
Chris (Danville, Ca)
For the record, the reason that the 49ers lost by double-digits against the Vikings in 2007 had more to do with a futile offense that gave many opportunities to the Vikings than the Vikings overcoming the shutdown of Peterson.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
That is the No. 1 difference in teh 49ers this season. They are not giving away games. Think back to the home game against the Eagles last season. Catastrophic collapse. Inexcusable. Disheartening for fans and players alike. I do think the 49ers will need to show more offensively to win consistently. Mike Singletary acknowledged this Monday. Right now, though, it looks like the 49ers are learning how not to blow games. The fact that they've gone 2-0 while playing not to lose puts them in good position.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
So the Seahawks are just fragile?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Injury prone, unlucky, you name it. I'm not ruling out other factors, including roles played by trainers or the conditioning staff. I would just say the reasons are tough to pinpoint.
Ryan (Portland, Oregon)
I'm a huge believer that the Cardinals would have never made it to the Super Bowl if they had to go through the Giants. If the NFC Championship Game would have been in Philly the Eagles would have destroyed them. Yes Zona is a good team but they overachieved and got extremely lucky to get to the Super Bowl last season.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Beating the Panthers in Carolina was not lucky. Getting to play the NFC title game at home was lucky. Arizona played well either way.
Mackay (Pleasant Grove, UT)
Assuming Beanie Wells hangs onto the ball now, I see a bright future for the Cardinals attack. Hightower will be good for 40-50 yards on the ground and maybe another 10-20 in the air. Beanie will be good for 15 carries around 70 yards. What does this mean to the 49ers next time they meet? I am sure revenge will be on the Cardinals minds.
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The Cardinals will have a better chance the next time if Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin are closer to full strength. But the 49ers do play the Cardinals well. They match up well. Their defensive line matches up well. And if the 49ers get their offense going a little more as the season progresses, they'll be better too. It's a good, tough rivalry within the division.
Mike, how good do you think the 49ers chances are in containing both Favre and Peterson? Past games stick with people's minds and I'm sure that AP is thinking about 2007 and probably wanting some revenge. And if it's possible the 49ers scrape out a win sunday, what do you think the chances of them actually making some noise this year like the Cards did last year?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
I think one of those players will be effective enough for the Vikings to win that game. If the 49ers shut both down or contain both, their defense is even better than I thought. I still think the 49ers' pass protection will be a key variable in this game. Bad protection can lead to turnovers.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Sand-O: You really think the Cards' biggest concern is the TE? I would think the secondary STILL consistently giving up the big plays (like the Bruce 55-yard reception). And come Sunday, this is exactly whhere Manning is brilliant. However, I really like the run defense and what the front-7 is doing.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I listed more than one concern. The tight end situation should be better once Ben Patrick returns from suspension. I did focus on the defense in answering the previous question about weaknesses and concerns. If the Cardinals could fix one of those, obviously the defense would be the priority by a wide margin.
Mackay (Pleasant Grove, UT)
Somehow my question you posted above wasn't answered.So the cardinals have a big win over Jacksonville who only now that the cards beat them is considered a struggling team. Why did they move down in your power rankings? The Colts snuck out wins on both teams and moved up consistantly. Also how does San Fran move up so much when they beat a team without their starting QB and many other important positions? I fear evalutions are based soley on expectations, not on results.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
The Cardinals rose on my ballot. Paul Kuharsky dropped the Cardinals six spots. That explains why the Cardinals fell. It had nothing to do with me.
Justin (Tri-Cities, WA)
Sando, is there any way the Seahawks can become healthy enough to contest for the NFC West crown?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
Yes, but it's important for them to weather the storm over the next few weeks. They can buy time if they can win home games against the Bears and Jaguars.