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 2 p.m. ET!
Mike, talk to me about your thoughts regarding the 49ers chances of running the table and finishing 10-6. Beating the Squawks is paramount. Then I believe that the streak continues for the series b/t SF and AZ in that each year we sweep one another. I'm eternally optimistic and see us being able to beat everyone going out, even Philly on the road....especially after watching them against Washingtong last week. Thanks!
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
I marvel at what one game does to fans' psyches. The 49ers beat the Jaguars and suddenly I'm getting multiple chat scenarios featuring San Francisco running the table. This team hasn't even won two in a row since the first two games of the season. I'm not even sure the 49ers will win Sunday. I would think the 49ers have a good shot at getting to 8-8, but I do not think it will be enough.
What do you think Niners chances are of taking the division? Especially if they beat the hawks sunday and assuming the cards lose.
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
I would give the 49ers an outside shot.
FilthyMcNasty (IN A VERY COLD WAREHOUSE)
How do you like the 49ers chances at going to play-offs? and if you don't like their chances, what would it take for you to be a believer?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
Beating the Seahawks, Cardinals and Eagles in succession would turn me into a believer.
Bill (St. Paul)
Internally, what do the 49ers (singletary and the upper mgmt) think of Alex Smith and where do they expect him to be in 1-2 years?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
They are hopeful. They would like to see him continue to grow in the confidence/leadership department.
Ray A. (San Francisco, CA)
What is your opinion thus far on Michael Crabtree? Is he living up to the hype, or playing just like you would expect any rookie would?
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
Michael Crabtree has exceeded reasonable expectations for a rookie who missed minicamps, training camp and the start of the season. He looks very good. The 49ers picked the right player.
scott (Montrose colorado)
Hey Sando, What do you think the Niners do with there pics in the upcoming draft.. We need help in some areas.. Is it smart to take a qb with our later first rounder if its there? What QB you think will do good in our offense now that we have switched the flow?
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
Based on a lot of the feedback here, let's assume the 49ers' own choice is 32nd overall. They also own the Panthers' choice, which figures to be higher. They'll have to pay huge money to Alex Smith on an extension once he emerges as Super Bowl MVP, so that could complicate matters. OK, enough joking around. Ha. Ha. Seriously, I think the 49ers go into this draft thinking the same way they thought in the last draft. Hope there's good value for offensive linemen and pass rushers, but take the best player available if the value gap is wide enough.
ninersdynasty (northern new york.)
Mike, being somewhat realistic I don't think the niners can win deep into the playoffs THIS year... But who should the niners go after in the draft in the first round to make that a possibility. I think oline first then a big bodied dt with the second pick. What are your thoughts? Who specifically? Maybe even secondary help would be nice.
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
Every question I'm getting seems to be from 49ers fans. I'm going to have to search through the next couple pages of questions to find one relating to the other teams in this division. Or did the rest of the division fold after the Niners beat the Jaguars?
John (Stafford Va)
Good afternoon Mike! Would you take Darnell Dockett over Justin Tuck and/or Ray Edwards?
Mike Sando (2:11 PM)
Dockett has been pretty open about saying Albert Haynesworth's deal is serving as his motivation. What happens to Dockett once he gets the huge money? I think it is a fair question.
Alex appears a little more athletic than Shaun Hill. Can Alex be a textbook spread QB??
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
Yes, at Utah.
bd go niners (Michigan)
Hi Mike, great job covering everything nfl. The Ravens and Bears are two teams I can remember making it to the super bowl with average qb's (dilfer might get upset about that one), good offensive lines, great defenses and coaches that knew how to get it done. I see the niners in a similar situation with an added bonus of having some real weapons at RB, WR, and TE. Is is just the OL that is keeping this team back or are there deeper issues? Oh yeah, and I'm beating you at the Gridiron League. Shazzam!
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
What is this, another question about the 49ers? This team is so great, it even dominates chats! I do think the 49ers are an offensive line away from contending more seriously for the NFC West title. They could also use a pass-rusher opponents must mention by name during preparations. Imagine how good the front seven would be on defense if the 49ers had a pure pass rusher commanding double teams.
Chris (Danville, Ca)
As I look at the 49ers schedule and the Cardinals schedule, assuming 49ers get by Seattle with Arizona losing, then the 49ers beating Arizona ultimately makes it a competition between 49ers beating Philly and the Cards beating Green bay. Agree?
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
Assuming the Eagles and Cardinals had the will to continue playing, yes.
The Niners appear to be the better team on paper. Niners or Seahawks?
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
I think the 49ers are more talented right now, and I said so during a recently posted blog item.
please fix the title of the chat. it says NFC West chat....should read Niners Chat
Mike Sando (2:16 PM)
Jed York is working on that right now.
Armen Dacity (Winter Park, Florida)
RAMS QUESTION!!!! Given the Rams' offensive system, which potential Round 2-3 QB do you think would be the best fit: Colt McCoy, Tony Pike, Tim Tebow or Dan LaFevre?
Mike Sando (2:18 PM)
Rams? Hmmm. The name sounds familiar. Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. answered that very question. I'll defer to him since he actually watches college games and studies the players. He went with Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen. His direct quote: "All of our top three and McCoy could fit. I would go in order of Locker, Bradford, McCoy and then Clausen. Clausen could do it, but McCoy has better mobility. In that system, you need a little bit more of a mobile quarterback."
Mike, you didn't answer my question. Should I drop either Justin Tuck or Ray Edwards for Darnell Dockett?
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
I do not watch the other players regularly. Sorry.
I love Steven Jackson and he's the Rams entire offense, but should they consider trading him if they could get a 1st and 3rd for him? RB is the easiest postition to fill and by the time St. Louis is competitive he will be on his last legs.
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
No. The cap consequences would be one disincentive. Also, Jackson is the heart and soul of that team. You do not tear out the heart and soul of a team, in my view.
greg (san diego)
Mike, do you think the cards resemble anything like last years team that made a push deep into the playoffs? They dont seem anything like that team right now and the injury bug sure has bit! Is the curse for real if they dont make the playoffs?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
This Cardinals team is rounding into form. The running game is coming along. You are right about the injuries. They are more of a factor this season. I do not think Arizona will have a Super Bowl season, but I could see the Cardinals winning in the wild-card round. That game would be at home provided Arizona wins the division, which is likely.
Does delaying the announcement of the starting quarterback for the Cardinals given them any kind of advantage?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
I do not think so.
Chris (Danville, Ca)
Read an interesting article by Matt Barrows today that you posted about the Raye Gun, I like his thinking! Do you buy his thoughts on creating a double tight end offense with some spread elements to be dangerous on all fronts?
Mike Sando (2:23 PM)
That personnel group has long been the best one for the 49ers because the team has not had a third receiver good enough to justify taking Delanie Walker's place, and it's increasingly tough to justify leaving a fullback on the field when the offensive line cannot block well enough for the run game anyway. The real question is whether Frank Gore can produce well enough within that grouping to justify sticking with it. Alex Smith, though improved, is not going to carry an offense.
Between the Niners and the Seahawks, which team do you feel would be the best fit for Holmgren?
Mike Sando (2:25 PM)
Seattle, because he knows the personnel. I'm just not sure the Seahawks are predisposed to go in that direction. The more Holmgren campaigns for it, the less likely I see the team going in that direction.
H.P. Drifter (Seattle)
Who is going to be the next president/GM of the Seahawks? And are his initials M.H.?
Mike Sando (2:25 PM)
Marty Hurney is with the Panthers right now.
Luke (Bellingham, WA)
All this time and not one question about the future of the Hawks front office?! What's your take on Holmgren, is it his job if he wants it? Do they reach out to an up and coming talent?
Mike Sando (2:28 PM)
The Seahawks will do their diligence in the search process. They hired a firm to assist. They will follow NFL protocol, which requires interviewing at least one minority candidate. They know Mike Holmgren is there and they know he would love to have the job, so they can afford to let the process play out. Holmgren isn't going anywhere without giving Seattle a chance, in my view. I think the team will consider Holmgren, but I do not think the team is leaning that way at this time.
Ben (Seattle, WA)
Hey Mike! I am curious as to some of the Seahawk offensive play calling of late. I am rapidly starting to despise the screen pass, or at least the fact that the offense tries it on seemingly every other play. It seems as though they are moving away from what has made a successful offense the past few years. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:32 PM)
The offense has indeed come full circle. For too many years there, the Seahawks could execute everything but the screen pass. Now they're doing it more than people would like. I think it speaks to their issues in protection. Screens are designed to take advantage of over-aggressive defenses. The Seahawks did not need them so much when they had a good offensive line that could protect well enough. I do not think the play calling is the problem in Seattle. Talent is one problem. Also, Matt Hasselbeck does not seem to have an intuitive rapport with his wide receivers, notably T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He holds the ball to make sure the receiver is where the receiver is supposed to be.
Why do you hate the 49ers or feel the need to try and crush the 49er fan base? I really appreciate all the work you do in our division but win or lose it seems like you think we're a lost cause in close to every article. You don't seem to complain when noone asks questions about the Rams (because no one cares), but your bothered by us. If you're going to hold a bias throughout the rest of the year, then you might as well have someone else blog for us because some of the backhanded comments in "good 49er posts" are getting rediculous.
Mike Sando (2:33 PM)
I'm having a little fun, King.
TJ (St. Louis)
How will the Rams oline sort out next year? For what they're paying him, I hope Smith is the starting LT.
Mike Sando (2:34 PM)
Look for Jason Smith to become the left tackle. Jacob Bell comes back at left guard. Jason Brown is the center. Richie Incognito could be the right guard. And then the team probably needs to consider its options at right tackle. The Rams' line has the potential to be pretty good, I think.
Am I taking crazy pills? No QB can succeed with no WR's, and no OL (looking at you, Rams).
Mike Sando (2:34 PM)
The Rams had a decent offensive line until Jason Brown left with an injury Sunday. You are right about the receiver situation.
Adam (Gettysburg Pa)
Mike, how about more draft analysis articles and how players will fit in the WEST like you did on O-Linemen a few weeks ago. Link please!!!
Mike Sando (2:36 PM)
I should probably pass along the link to the one we did on quarterbacks during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Is the Niner pash rush good enough to get to Matt Hasselback?
Mike Sando (2:38 PM)
I think they'll get to him some, but not the way Arizona did in Week 6. Hasselbeck should be able to function decently.
Hey Mike, is Vernon Davis an All-Pro this year?
Mike Sando (2:38 PM)
Vernon Davis should go to the Pro Bowl this season.
You disagreed with me partially! You must love the Rams and hate every other NFC West team! That's pretty much how these things go, right?
Mike Sando (2:39 PM)
Yes, it's all very personal to me. Haha.
Steve (San Jose)
Mike, What are the Cards chances against Brett Farve? Do you think they will rest up Warner and probably take a loss to gear up for MNF against the Niners?
Mike Sando (2:40 PM)
It's a tough matchup for the Cardinals. I do not see them winning the game. They've been known to surprise us every so often. Beating the Vikings would be a surprise.
Mike (Mill Creek, WA)
The running game of the Seahawks has stalled. They rank in the bottom third of the league in rushing. With a couple decent games ran by Justin Forsett, why is it that Coach Mora still has Julius Jones as the starter?
Mike Sando (2:42 PM)
Sounds like he's been trying to prop up Julius Jones this season. He gave a game ball to Jones after the victory over the Lions. Mora also probably likes what Jones offers from base personnel on earlier downs.
Mike, do you think Kurt Warner will start this week? Or do you think he might rest so he will be ready for the all-important 49ers game? I'm sure the Cardinals don't want Kurt re-injured. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:43 PM)
The Cardinals probably would not make the decision based on saving Kurt Warner for the 49ers. Seems to me like players play if they are cleared to play. Warner overruled that last week, but I don't think he was saving himself for any future opponents. He just did not feel right.
Which position is most to blame for the Niner passing defense?
Mike Sando (2:44 PM)
QB. The 49ers have faced some good ones.
Steve (San Francisco)
It's not the disagreeing, it's the semi-mocking of our optimism. Two realistic outcomes this weekend and the Niners control their own destiny. When's the last time we could say that in week 14?
Mike Sando (2:45 PM)
It's great progress. I find myself balancing out the overly optimistic and overly pessimistic. The nature of the comments today -- chock full of references to running the table -- gave me some license to poke fun a little. Not personal, Steve.
Mike, let me apologize for all the upset 9er fans! After years of waiting there is actually an actual glimmer of hope. Being actually realistic and the niners not making the playoffs but finishing 8-8 at best, what are out chances next year with a good draft?
Mike Sando (2:47 PM)
The 49ers have good young talent in key spots. I think a lot of it comes down to what we see from Alex Smith over the final five games. So far, not so bad. It's important for this organization to have the answer at that position. Smith looks like he could provide the right answer. The outlook brightens considerably if he makes that happen. Some optimism is indeed warranted right now.
Tom (Tempe, AZ)
What do you think of Warner's comments about thinking about lying about his injury, etc? I sensed a bit of doubt about his health in them. Do you think the thought of Jared Allen ripping around the end is keeping him up at night this week?
Mike Sando (2:48 PM)
Keeping him up at night? Probably not. But it has to be a concern.
Sando, thanks for your time today. I know some of the 49er guys on the chat take things personal, but I know your remarks are all in good fun. Hoping for a 49er win against the Sqwuaks Sunday...then we'll really have some 49er talk for next week.
Mike Sando (2:49 PM)
Next week becomes much more fun for me if that scenario plays out. I'm all about wanting a competitive, interesting division because it benefits the blog. Having Arizona run away with it makes the division less fun to cover. I'd love to have some drama going into that Cardinals-49ers game.
supninerfan (ft lauderdale, fl)
I'm okay with the sarcastic remarks even if they are at my teams expense. Serious question though, can Raye have a balanced attack? It seems to me that he either runs all game or passes all game. If the team can figure out how to be balanced I think they can beat almost anyone. Is it Raye or the Oline that is keeping that from happening?
Mike Sando (2:51 PM)
I thought the approach against the Jaguars was opponent-specific to a degree. That is what makes the game against the Seahawks somewhat fascinating from a strategy standpoint. I think the 49ers will do what they think gives them the best chance to win the game. Spreading the field and passing a lot makes more sense against certain opponents. While Seattle does not have a great pass rush, Qwest Field can be a difficult venue for an offense still finding its identity. I wonder if they'll pound Frank Gore a little more.
Mike (Mill Creek, WA)
With the emergence of David Hawthorne, who is arguably playing better than Lofa Tatupu, are Lofa Tatupu's better days behind him? Do you see him being traded this offseason?
Mike Sando (2:53 PM)
I do question whether Lofa Tatupu will become a Pro Bowl player again. Someone at Seahawks HQ should cut out that sentence and put it in his locker. Tatupu is driven. He'll give it his best shot. Still not sure if he'll get back to that level. On David Hawthorne, let's see how he finishes the season.
Ty (University of Washington)
don't the seahawks have just a realistic of a chance of running the table as the niners do? (not a good chance, however)
Mike Sando (2:54 PM)
I would give the 49ers a better chance.
Sorry for the intrusion from the NFCN. But to Joe (VA), Ray Edwards is pretty under rated, reminds me of a defensive Randy Moss. . . He plays when he feels like it. On to a question: How greatly diminished would AZs chances be with Leinart starting?
Mike Sando (2:55 PM)
Thanks for the info. The QB decision in Arizona could affect how the Cardinals approach the game. Having Leinart might make them less apt to spread the field and throw it around. And that might actually be the better strategy against this opponent. Either way, I think it's probably tough. And the team's chances are definitely better with a healthy Kurt Warner, as long as the game plan doesn't try to do too much.
Penner (Snohomish, WA)
Hey Sando- Appreciate everything you do for the NFCW Blog, I have a questions regarding right-handed to left-handed QB's.... does it make a difference on whether or not the LT or RT is a more glaring need? Example if the Seahawks obtain a Left handed QB do we still need an elite LT or could we live with a serviceable one and let Locklear play his natural position at RT?
Mike Sando (2:56 PM)
The right tackle becomes more important for a left-handed quarterback, in theory.
The Wii has dropped all the way to $149 now...you getting one?
Mike Sando (2:58 PM)
Don't tell the kids, but I think Grandma and the Aunties might have something like that in mind. On that note, I'm outta here. See you on the NFC West blog. Enjoy your lucky Week 13.