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!
Mike Sando (1:02 PM)
Greetings. About to get going here. Thanks for coming along.
Hey, Mike. How do you see SF using Kendall Hunter and LMJ this year. LMJ didn't see action until Hunter went down and he displayed a lot of potential. Assuming Hunter is 100%, which of the two do you see getting the majority of the snaps behind gore? Is it possible LMJ may get some work in the slot?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
My guess is that a healthy Hunter would be the primary backup, but it's too early to say. Seems to me James needs an expanded role, maybe a package specifically for him. The combination of Colin Kaepernick and James in the backfield seems too dynamic to ignore. I could see James' role increasing.
Vincent Vega (Jack Rabbit Slims )
Mike how do see the 49ers WR situation panning out?? Do you think Patton snatches the #3 job right out from under Manningham, Wilson, and Jenkins?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
A.J. Jenkins is the big wild card. I think he'll make strides and factor. We really cannot know anything about Quinton Patton as a mid-round pick, although early reports suggest he's a tireless worker, which could really help him.
Nat (Mercer Island)
I can't help but smile when I think of the Seattle nickel rush possibility of Michael Bennet, Jordan Hill, Bruce Irvin, CHRIS CLEMONS, and Cliff Avril from the LB position. But what is the status on Clemons?? Can I get an inside scoop Mike?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Yeah, the deal on Chris Clemons is that he's known as one of the toughest guys on the team. He plays through stuff. But the team's leadership wants to be careful with him. They know the league has expanded the window for players to return from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. They like their depth to get them through part of the season while Clemons works his way back. So, while Clemons has the potential to beat timetables and return quickly, I think Seattle is most concerned with having him 100 percent for a stretch run.
claude balls (hometown, usa)
What role would Mangini play on the 49ers' coaching staff this season? What about next season? In other words, is this a sign that they expect to lose Ed Donatell after this season or a sign that they expect to lose Vic Fangio?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
It's really premature to say because Eric Mangini has not been hired by the 49ers. Were he to be hired, I would see him as a potential candidate at defensive coordinator down the line. I would wonder what the team thought about Vic Fangio. Those would be natural things to wonder if Mangini were hired. However, Mangini has not been hired.
tom eiefert (st louis)
Sup Mike. Do you think Rams have what it takes to take over the division this year? Also do u think this is going to be a breakout season for Sam Bradford? Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
I don't think we can know how all the Rams' young talent is going to progress this season. The foundation is firming up. I do think Sam Bradford will take a step forward, but I am not quite ready to bet on a "breakout" season, which to me would mean one in which Bradford became [arguably] one of the five or 10 best quarterbacks around.
kk (san francisco, ca)
Mike, have you ever asked non NFC west GMs about the NFC west draft? curious as to their thoughts on who they thought did the best and who did poorly? Especially interested in how objective folks thought the 49ers did in their draft this year - Thanks
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Yeah, I spoke with one GM who really thought the 49ers did well in the draft.
Chris (335iRobot) (Mesa, Arizona)
Many project another 5 win or less season for the Cardinals.. what are your initial projections with just what we see on paper for their roster "improvements"?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
A season featuring five victories evenly distributed would feel like improvement over the 5-11 record last season, when four of the victories were distributed over the first four games. I think the Cardinals are going to win more than five games this coming season. They will almost surely be healthier, for one. I'm less sure about their defense remaining as potent. There are too many unknowns there. We project that Carson Palmer, were he to play the way he did last season for Oakland, would add four victories over a 16-game season relative to how the Cardinals' quarterbacks played from Week 5 forward.
Biggest surprise from Seahawks rookie camp?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Richard Sherman showing up on a jetski. Luke Willson stealing the show early.
Hi Mike....Really appreciate the chat and your insights!! As a life long Ram fan I am really pleased w/ new regime & moves they are making. I think they've aced 2 drafts
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Thanks. Michael Brockers is going to be a beast, it appears. I think that is one player we're going to hear a lot more about in the future.
Looking at the Seahawks schedule, I have them going 12-4, possibly 11-5 again. Is 12-4 a reasonable possibility with the Seahawks being so talented?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Sure, but let's see how the schedule shapes up. My initial thoughts were that the schedule could work against the Seahawks. We won't really know until we have a better feel for how some of those opponents are going to look. At first glance, though, some of the easier looking opponents come to Seattle, where the Seahawks last season knocked off tougher teams such as New England and Green Bay. The 2013 schedule has some easier looking home games (Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Minnesota) while the road opponents appear more formidable (Houston, Indianapolis, Atlanta, the Giants). It's tough getting to 12-4 or better without racking up road victories. Now that St. Louis is no longer a gimme on the road, I wonder if Seattle might have a harder time getting past 10-11 victories even with a 7-1 or 8-0 home record.
Born2ruk (The Internet)
Is there any credence to the reports that Goodwin may be in a competition for the starting Center spot? I know coaches say always compete, but are Kilgore and Looney truly threats to Goodwin's starting role?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Yeah, Jonathan Goodwin is an older player with a higher price tag, and the teams has been grooming younger players on the roster. That is a recipe for competition and a potential roster move.
Paul (Palm Beach, FL)
The Rams are almost completely devoid of players drafted and signed by Devaney (many of which who were subsequently released by Spagnuolo). There's also a complete 180 in the philosophy and a 99% change in the staff. At what point do people in the media just call this what it is? It's a rebuild here in Earth City.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I think that point was 2012. It was called a rebuild then. It has been widely acknowledged as a rebuild. Nine draft choices remain from the Steve Spagnuolo era: Austin Pettis, Sam Bradford, Jabara Williams, James Lauriniatis, Josh Hull, Rodger Saffold, Lance Kendricks, Eugene Sims and Robert Quinn.
Andy (SLC, UT)
Hey Mike - Great job, love reading your stuff.. I asked this question to Ashley the other day and would like to hear your take. Everyone has the Seahawks as #1 - much of this based upon their defense. I feel people may be overlooking the departure of Gus Bradley. Should this be a factor before discussing the strength of their defense in 2013?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Thanks, Andy. Some Seahawks fans are quietly hoping new coordinator Dan Quinn brings a more aggressive approach that translates to better results in the final minutes of games. I usually think a team can be OK losing a coordinator if the head coach's background is on the same side of the ball. That is the case here. Pete Carroll has been a defensive coordinator. He knows what he wants on that side of the ball. Quinn has worked with him previously. So, I would say the Seahawks appear pretty well positioned to move on from Bradley. But there's no question the team valued Bradley and will miss him.
Thinking about the Hawks future, do you see Tate and/or Rice staying long term or being cut for cap reasons? Seems to me like Harvin basically means Tate is leaving. What about Miller, if i understand correctly his contract become more team friendly after this season, is he a cap casualty? BTW, you should totally post this question to brag about your south american fanbase.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Wait, you're not from Lima, Ohio? I see Golden Tate and Sidney Rice being an either-or proposition following the 2013 season, based in part on how they perform.
How concerned are the Cardinals about Daryl Washington in general?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
They really were not all that concerned about Washington following the four-game suspension. I think the subsequent arrest has them concerned.
Besides number 11. Point to something Card fans have to look forward to?
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Tyrann Mathieu's potential development as an impact player. Greater stability on the offensive line. Improved play at quarterback. Patrick Peterson's continued development into a game-changing player. Darnell Dockett's return to a role that suits him better.
Tribe (Retodd's House)
Is it reasonable to say that the Cardinals sport a top 5 defense? They already have one of the premier corners in Peterson, along with Campbell, and two excellent linebackers. A lot of people believe the Rams have a better shot at the playoffs than the Cardinals, but I think the Cards have the right pieces to pull it off.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
It is reasonable to say they sported a top-five defense last season. It is now reasonable to wonder whether maintaining that level of play will become more difficult as the team adjusts to a new defensive system under a new coordinator, with some new players in a division with some increasingly talented offenses.
Chex Norris (San Diego)
The 49ers philosophy is to reward players within the organization and not free agents, that being said, can they risk not overpaying Michael Crabtree and letting him go to another team, especially one in the division like the rams?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Yeah, I think re-signing Colin Kaepernick has to be the priority. I'm not 100 percent sold on Michael Crabtree as someone the 49ers will reward without reservation. This season will provide more evidence. They drafted A.J. Jenkins, acquired Anquan Boldin, drafted Quinton Patton, signed Mario Manningham and could make additional moves next offseason to protect themselves at the position. I'm really not sure how this one will play out. Remember the Crabtree negotiations when he was a rookie? Those didn't go so well.
Tribe (Retodd's House)
Did you get a new haircut Sando? You're looking swell. I'm excited to see Kaepernick handle his first full season. Great vibe in NorCal with the Warriors, Sharks, Giants, and of course...the 49ers.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Did get a haircut. Badly, badly needed. Don't forget about the Kings in NorCal. They get to stay in Sacramento, my old town. Noticed you did not mention the Raiders, for good reason.
Sando, a lot of ink has been spilled in 49er land about making sure there is a deep threat at WR. The conventional argument is that Crabtree and Boldin aren't deep threats and with the subtraction of Moss, teams are just going to stack the box. SF doesn't typically run "11" personnel a lot either, so the addition of a slot speed threat isn't a staple of the offense. What do you think?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I think the offense is going to evolve and could become more receiver-oriented as Colin Kaepernick develops.
More likely to happen this season: a 1000 yard rusher or a receiver for the Rams?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Receiver. I don't see any of those backs getting enough carries for 1,000 yards. Looks like a committee approach. I could see Chris Givens or Tavon Austin getting to 1,000 yards more easily. And who knows what might happen with Brian Quick?
Linda (St. Louis)
Mike, did you think the Rams would have been better served to take a different safety at their spot in the draft? McDonald seems athletic, but can he actually make plays? Maybe Shamarko Thomas would have been better?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I learned a long time ago that it's tough to evaluate draft choices without studying the players. I don't pretend to be a scout. Seems to me Jeff Fisher would have a pretty good idea what he likes in a safety.
Sammy B (St. Louis)
Which offensive weapon do you see me relying the most on this season? GO RAMS
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
My guess would be Tavon Austin, but we need to see him in that offense first. Initial reports suggest Austin is a bit of a gym rat, really in the film room, and of course the team will build its offense around him to an extent after using the eighth overall choice to select him.
Hey, Mike. Love the blog! Who will have the better season this year, the Rams' offense or their defense and why?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Thanks. I'd probably lean toward the defense based on the pass-rush ability and the fact that there are more unknowns on offense. But those unknowns can become positive variables too. Just harder to predict right now. I like the Rams' front seven and think the CB position has great potential.
ancientage530 (pville, CA)
Everyone is excited about their new weapons (boldin, harvin, austin, cards actually have a QB.) But with the talent all four teams possess on defense, I think its a real possibility that the NFC WEST doesn't house a 1000 yard WR in 2013. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Larry Fitzgerald will top 1,000 yards. Bank it.
I know you ranked Seattle #1 (over the 49ers), but looking at things objectively...do you think too much is being placed on the Seattle home thrashing of the 49ers last year, when the 49ers played a Sunday Night Game "thriller" in New England the week before? I mean the Seahawks could have easily been thrashed that way in SF, if they wre in those same circumstances. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I really don't put much weight on that one game because the 49ers were coming off a draining game at New England the previous Sunday night, and they had just lost Justin Smith. My feel is that Seattle was closing the gap on the 49ers last season, and that the moves made this offseason have the potential to make the Seahawks a bit better than the 49ers. But in the end, I suspect the teams will be close enough for injuries to be a pivotal variable.
Whats the official measurement of "best D in the league"? Seahawks gave up the least amount of points last year but I never heard anyone say they had the best D in the league last year.
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
That really depends upon which stats you value. We had Chicago, Denver, Arizona, San Francisco, Houson, Cincinnati and Seattle ranking in the top seven for defensive EPA. The Seahawks had the third-best defense in the NFC West by that measure.
Can the 'Hawks keep Sherman AND Thomas?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Think they could, but would bet against it. I'd bet on them re-signing Earl Thomas. I wonder whether they'll re-sign Richard Sherman.
Tribe (Retodd's House)
CBS ranked the Seahawks' FO in front of the Niners. Before I write a very angry letter to CBS, could you help me understand the reasoning behind their decision.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
They ranked Seattle one spot ahead of San Francisco. Not a big deal. One thought is that the 49ers' leadership inherited a better roster, while Seattle had more work to do.
Tribe (Retodd's House)
As a longtime Jaguars fan, I've enjoyed reading your blog. Do you see the Jaguars following a similar path as the Seahawks, who also started a young QB. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
Thanks. I see most of the parallels on defense and was wondering whether Tyson Alualu's move to DE was along the lines of Red Bryant's change a few years ago. Bryant is much heavier than Alualu, but it's pretty clear Bradley is going to compete with Seattle for the same types of players. At quarterback, I know Bradley learned from his experience in Seattle. He has said that. But the Jags will go with the best QB they can find, regardless of age.
ancientage530 (p-ville, CA)
Mike, its never too early for predictions. So who ya got week 2 niners vs. hawks. Spill the beans!!!
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Easy. I've got the home team winning whenever the 49ers and Seahawks play.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. I have to pull away a few minutes early this week. See you on the blog.