Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Mike Sando (12:56 PM)
For the first week in a row, I'm early to the NFC West chat. Let's get this thing rolling.
Considering that Pete Carroll and Jon Schneider have made it a point to build a team through the draft, and if they Seahawks trade back in the first round, what team is most likely to trade for the 12th spot? I think Carroll is willing to trade back in the first, pick up some draft picks, and draft Nick Perry.
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
First, I agree that the Seahawks would be open to moving back some. They have shown an ability to find starters such as K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman in the middle rounds. So much depends upon which players remain available when Seattle is on the clock at No. 12. That will determine which teams might want to move up.
Adam (RSM, CA)
Mike any word on how CK's development as a quarterback is coming along? He was an exciting player to watch in college, but he seemed a little raw. I would be surprised if he was in a position to seriously challenge Alex Smith this year, even if Smith struggles.
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Colin Kaepernick is raw. The progress he makes from the opening of the voluntary offseason program next week through the exhibition season will reveal what progress he has made. I also would be surprised if Kaepernick seriously challenged Smith for the starting job this summer. The 49ers' contract with Smith suggested they agreed. It reflected Smith's status as the very likely starter in 2012, with the door opening wider for Kaepernick in 2013 and beyond.
Cody (New Jersey)
Why do the Rams draft 1st in the 2nd round?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
They finished tied with the Colts for the worst record. A tiebreaker advantage gave the Colts the No. 1 overall pick, but the order rotates among tied teams in subsequent rounds.
Adam (RSM, CA)
Mike, I really liked your piece showing the predictions of 14 mock drafts. I am a little confused why so many of them show the 49ers drafting a guard. I admit there is a need, but my instincts tells me that you can pick up a starting guard in the later rounds. I would much rather they use that pick to provide some depth on the DL or invest in a speedy player to play DB or WR.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Thanks, Adam. I understand what the mock drafters are thinking. They are going with perceived needs because it's tougher to figure out value differentials for players drafted later in the first round. It's easy to give the 49ers a guard at that point in the draft. I agree with the thinking that a team should be able to develop a guard chosen later in the draft. It's OK to take a guard early if you're getting a special one, but harder to justify in other cases. The 49ers have a great defense already, but if they could find someone to project as an eventual Justin Smith successor, that would help the team. Bucky Brooks had that thought in mind in putting together his mock, which I linked to from the item you referenced.
I am sick of hearing how the Niners were good last year because of the division. Do people realize they beat: philly, Pitt, Detroit, the giants, Saints, bengals and Skins. The last time I checked those teams don't play in the NFC WEST
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The 49ers did go 5-1 against the NFC West, but the NFC West was not the worst division. People paying attention knew this. Set 'em straight, Dre.
Sam (Phoenix, AZ)
Don't you think the dream scenario for the Cardinals would be to move back, then take the best available WR/OT in the first round (Adams, Martin, Stephen Hill, Kendall Wright) and the best available remaining need in the second round (Massie, Jeffery, Sanu)? Or would you rather take the best available at 13 (Floyd, DeCastro, Reiff)?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Good thinking, Sam. Arizona does not have a second-round choice. Moving back in the first round would give the Cardinals an additional pick without necessarily sacrificing a ton of value -- if the team felt comfortable about the players likely to be available later in the first round. I'd favor that approach for Arizona over taking a tackle just to take a tackle.
D (Valley of the Sun)
I don't see how Arizona could pass up David DeCastro if he is still on the board and if Melvin Ingram and Michael Floyd are off the board. Yes, taking a guard is not a need like offensive tackle, but if this guy is the next Steve Hutchinson, then they should do it and move Adam Synder to right tackle and give him help throughout the year. Then they would have to draft a tackle in round three followed up by a pass-rusher and receiver in the middle rounds. They turned Sam Acho, a fourth-round pick last year, into a good pass-rusher. It can be done again. Maybe for once with an improved O-line, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams can really establish Arizona as a good running team to take some pressure off Kevin Kolb.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
You've thought through the scenario well, I would say. That is a less-than-ideal scenario, however. The team already spent big for left guard Daryn Colledge in free agency. Investing a first-round choice in a right guard just doesn't seem like the preferred path philosophically. Wells and Williams need to stay healthy, first and foremost. Wells had 1,000 yards last season despite not being healthy much of the time. The thought of Adam Snyder at right tackle isn't appealing, either. Jeremy Bridges might be a better starting option there.
Who was last high-round WR drafted by Niners who is considered a success? Thanks, Mike.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Jerry Rice. I suspect you knew the answer without having me list Michael Crabtree, Rashaun Woods and J.J. Stokes as the 49ers' only first-round receivers since taking Rice in 1985.
Joe (Fort Worth)
Hey Mike, people have talked about the Cardinals trading down to pick up a 2nd round pick to replace the one they gave up in the Kolb trade. In your informed opinion, what are the odds of this happening? I'd like to hear your thought process regarding your answer as well (i.e., philosophy of the front decision makers, needs of the team, depth and/or positional strength of this draft, etc).
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Love this question and want to do it justice. Maybe I can break out something on the blog. Thanks.
If Ryan Tannehill gets past Cleveland at No. 4 (likely), could you then see Seattle trading with Miami, moving up to take Quinton Coples at No. 8, with Miami taking Tannehill at a more-respectable No. 12? For the record, I have a hard time buying Kansas City passingon Luke Kuechly to get a raw QB, which I factored in.
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I question whether the Dolphins would have the patience to try such a move. They're likely desperate for a quarterback. Can they really afford to get cute if they think Tannehill is their guy? I don't see how they could do that, given the risk of losing the player.
Sando, given their track record of taking the guy they like instead of the position they need, what are the chances the Hawks take David DeCastro at 12 (if they can't trade back.)
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Not sure whether the results wholly justify the premise. The Seahawks badly needed a left tackle when they drafted Russell Okung. They thought they needed additional line help when they took James Carpenter. Earl Thomas might be the Pete Carroll-era first-round choice most comparable to DeCastro. To answer your question directly, yes, I could see the Seahawks making that sort of choice. Seahawks GM John Schneider was with the team in 2001 when Seattle used a first-round choice for Steve Hutchinson even though the top decision makers at the time, Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson, generally did not value guards. DeCastro would really solidify that left side if (IF) Okung could stay healthy.
If Coples and Kuechly are still on the board at 12, who would you take now that Hawthorne is not coming back?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
Just a tough question because evaluators have questions about Quinton Coples' consistency of effort. I wouldn't let the David Hawthorne departure affect the decision either way. I would have to decide on which player offers more value, and that would depend upon whether I thought the staff could get the most from Coples. If so, Coples would be the choice based on positional value.
Who is the guy that the Seahawks, 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals could least afford to lose to a season long injury?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Let's go with Earl Thomas, Justin Smith, Sam Bradford and Larry Fitzgerald. Marshawn Lynch was a consideration for the Seahawks. Alex Smith was a consideration for the 49ers. Bradford got the call for St. Louis simply because they are still betting big on him and they do not have a Plan B at the position. The Fitzgerald choice needs no explanation.
Hey Mike, Niners are thin at safety now, what do you know of Corey Nelms (SP?)? He was a PS player last year as CB. He won a team award for most improved player and last I heard he was being moved to safety... Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I'm not sure how Madieu Williams' departure makes the 49ers thin at safety, if that move is the impetus behind the word "now" in your premise. Williams was not a player anyone expected the 49ers to pursue as a re-sign this offseason. They have two good starters in Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. Nelms did impress the coaching staff last season. The award you referenced was not for making the most improvement, but for making best use of opportunities as a rookie or first-year player, as voted by the coaches. The fact that coaches voted on that award suggests Nelms could stick around, but would he be ready to contribute this season? Not sure about that.
If the Hawk have another 7-9 season, will this be the year Hawk fans are NOT happy about it?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yeah, I think you can say that. Getting to 7-9 and winning a playoff game two years ago was miraculous. The 7-9 record last season was more reflective of where the team stood. It's time to be .500 or better for Pete Carroll, I'd say.
I can give you Okung, but with glaring issues at QB, the Hawks went with Carpenter instead of Dalton. I have to assume their rating on him had to be really high.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
They did that because Pete Carroll wants to build with the running game first. He did not think they had the offensive line in place to support a rookie quarterback. They did have James Carpenter rated highly, but they also wanted an offensive lineman.
Regarding the mockers that have the Seahawks taking Kuechely at no 12... have Schneider or Carroll ever drafted LBs in the first round (including during tenure with other teams)?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Off the top of my head, the Packers took A.J. Hawk fifth overall in 2006, when John Schneider was with Green Bay.
3 of the 14 mock drafts had the Rams passing on Blackmon for Fletcher Cox. I like the thinking behind getting more help against the run with this selection, especially given that there are a lot of good receivers the Rams could get early in the second round or by trading to move up back into the late first round. However, they've made some additions to the DL through free agency, so is there still a big enough need to on the line and enough value in Cox to make this pick?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
The Rams are starting over in a lot of areas, but especially at defensive tackle. They flushed out Fred Robbins and are starting almost from scratch there. The thinking on Fletcher Cox would reflect Jeff Fisher's general belief that you build with a strong running game and strong defense. Yes, you need playmakers too, but the first priority is to take pressure off the QB by running the ball, perhaps diminishing the need to build right away with a receiver taken sixth overall, especially if that receiver isn't as appealing as some of the other receivers taken very early in drafts. Cox would then be a value selection.
If Richardson falls to the Rams at 6, and Claiborne, Kalil, and Blackmon are off the board in addition to THE 1 & 2 picks, do you think it would be smarter to take Richardson or trade back?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Take Trent Richardson and don't look back. Running back is one position where just about any of us can look at a player and know he's good. By all accounts, Richardson is very, very good. On the down side, Steven Jackson is in place, so Richardson might not provide as big of a positional upgrade as another player would provide. But we all know Jackson is nearer the finish line than the starting line. We all know Jeff Fisher is building for the long term. We all know Fisher wants an elite back to help Sam Bradford for years to come. And we've all heard about how Richardson is supposedly one of the truly elite prospects -- a player of the type teams will not find later.
Mike, will the Rams try and get an OT or do you think they are going to try and stay with what they have. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I think they need help at the position. We need to see what will happen with Jason Smith's salary. There's just no way, in my view, they can count on Smith at any price, let alone his current one.
If Tannehill somehow slipped to 13, do the Cardinals go for it? Seems like they are ok with Kolb and Skelton but not unwilling to go in a different direction.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
That doesn't seem realistic to me under the circumstances. The Cardinals need help right now. They were 5-11 two seasons ago and cannot afford to slip backward in the short term after clawing their way to 8-8 last season. Ken Whisenhunt's deal runs through the 2013 season. The Cardinals have no second-round pick this year. They will have paid $19 million to Kevin Kolb in two seasons, so they need to see that through. It just seems impractical under the circumstances for the Cardinals to take such a long-range view at the expense of their present, when they've already made a huge bet on Kolb.
Mike, I know that Moss could be labeled as an unknown and other fans love to point out that Manningham was a #3 WR last year for the Giants, but I feel that the 49er WR core is clearly upgraded from last years squad. I still expect them to look for a young talent in the draft but I think that overall they are already better at the position (on paper at least). I'm curious what your thoughts are on this.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Yeah, they are better right no already, but that is largely because Josh Morgan was lost for the 2011 season, Braylon Edwards had injury issues and Ted Ginn Jr. was injured late in the year. We are comparing the best-case scenario for the current receivers against the worst-case scenario for the 2011 receivers. If the 49ers do not need much WR help, it's partly because they rely pretty heavily on personnel groupings with two tight ends.
Mike i know there has not been much discussion about Mike Wallace lately but I have a hard time seeing why the 49ers do not try to sign him and give up the 30th pick. I know he wants mucho money but he is head and shoulders better than anyone they can get at 30, so is it all about cap space or what?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Some of it has to do with what message a team sends to its locker room when it pays huge, huge sums for someone who has done nothing for the team. It's one thing if Peyton Manning is that player. It's another thing if Mike Wallace is that player. Sure, money is a factor. Giving up a first-round choice is a factor. But locker-room dynamics are another factor to consider, and one we sometimes overlook. Remember, too, that the Steelers drafted Wallace in the third round. The 49ers have a scouting department too.
What is with the re-signing of 'Toast' Trufant??? He was washed up 3 years ago. All he does is get burnt for long TD passes or commit PI. Teams target him. Why would the Hawks bring him back?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
You're being overly harsh. My read on Trufant is this: He's pretty good when he has a good defense around him. He is not good when playing for a bad defense, especially when the team needs him to make tackles in the running game. You should probably recalibrate your expectations. The Seahawks likely will not ask Trufant to start. They developed younger alternatives last season. But they need depth, and Trufant could project in a another role -- perhaps as a nickel back.
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
By the way, for those asking, the auto-update feature has been enabled. I did that when answering the very first question. Sorry if that is not working. I did what I could do.
Justin (Ny, NY)
Hey Mike, as always, thanks for the chat. All offseason I've been hearing/thinking Aldon Smith will start at OLB this year for the Niners in Parys Haralson's place. Any word from Parys? Will this leave him disgruntled?
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
Haralson is used to being overlooked. I remember joking with him about that when asking him a question about another player on the team last season (cannot recall which one). When people approach Haralson for interviews, often they are asking about other players, not about Haralson. He understands the business. He knows the 49ers drafted Aldon Smith seventh overall because they expected him to start. He knows Smith had 14 sacks last season. I think he'll be a pro about it and compete, based on what I've seen from him in the past.
Cody (New Jersey)
Hey Mike, nice job attracting so many non west coasters to this forum. This is only my 2nd time making it to one of these chats and its exciting to see that I am not the only Seahawk fan that sadly lives away from my beloved Seattle. I think it's the year west coasters living on the east coast can hold their head up high as they announce their favorite team plays in the NFC West. Do you agree?
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
Welcome, Cody. There's no question the NFC West was looking pretty grim at points in the past, but the trajectory improved quite a bit last season. The 49ers went 13-3 and nearly reached the Super Bowl. The Cardinals won seven of their final nine. The Seahawks got to 7-9 and beat some good teams. We just need the Rams to pick themselves off the floor, which should happen if they have better luck with injuries. Overall, the NFC West has some showcase games against teams with elite quarterbacks. New England, New Orleans, Green Bay and others are on the schedule this year. NFC West teams need to fare reasonably well against those teams to improve their image in the eyes of those who haven't been watching closely enough to notice some of the improvements that have been made already.
Hey Mike, I do not recall hearing your opinion on the new unis for the Hawks. I am old school and was not sure I liked them at 1st, but after hearing the thought process that was used in many little details I was more impressed. They kind of grow on you. What do you think?
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
I've got no problem with them. Some teams with long traditions shouldn't mess with a good thing. Seattle had its previous uniforms for only a decade. It was a pretty good decade, by and large, but if any team was going to let Nike push the envelope a little, why not have it be the team headquartered closest to Nike's roots?
I am a huge fan of the Niners and Stanford and would love to see Coby Fleener reunite with his former coach. What are the chances that he will be available that late in the draft?
Mike Sando (2:16 PM)
Guess I'll bet against Fleener lasting that long. He seems too talented. Teams generally do not put high values on tight ends, allowing some good ones to remain available later, but that could be changing given the way some tight ends dominated last season. Rules changes opening up the middle of the field should further enable tight ends.
Hey Mike, where do you think the 49ers most need to improve this year from a coaching perspective? You can throw the other teams in there if you must, too :)
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
Off the top of my head, it seemed like Jim Harbaugh was sometimes inefficient in his use of replay, challenging plays that could not be challenged, and those sorts of things. I don't know if he was doing that on purpose, but sometimes there's a tendency to perhaps wrongly assume a winning coach has all the answers at all times. Maybe that is one area. For the other teams, Seattle's Pete Carroll could continue to work on game/clock management. Arizona needs to develop some young offensive linemen, which would first require acquiring some. Seems like that is one reason they made hiring Russ Grimm such a high priority years ago.
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. We went overtime today, but it didn't seem like it from my perspective. Thanks again.