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.
supninerfan (ft lauderdale)
I know it's early but have you seen any clues on how the Niners are going to use Dorsey? I feel like he is this years biggest addition to the D.
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Not as a pure old-school nose tackle, that is for sure. I think Glenn Dorsey is a player the 49ers feel like they have up their sleeve, someone they're going to use wisely, someone who will play an important role on the defense and be more than he has been to this point in his career. There has to be more of an up-the-field component to make that happen, in my view.
Niner Transplant (Virginia)
Call me crazy, but I don't see why the 49ers current receiving corps can't step up to the challenge and provide adequate results in the absense of Crabtree. I'm not saying he wasn't important. Losing him was a huge blow to the team, but for a team whose coach preaches no one man is bigger than the team, I don't see why they would need to sign a free agent. The competitiveness of Patton alone should at least push the rest of those guys to step up. Do you really think they need to sign someone like Brandon Lloyd to replace Crabs?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
I would have nothing against the 49ers adding veteran insurance as long as those vets didn't stand in the way of progress. The 49ers need to prove they were right on A.J. Jenkins. And then if Mario Manningham is healthy, I think they move forward pretty comfortably. However, the offense was in some flux already with Delanie Walker leaving, so there could be an adjustment period.
Tribe (OSS's cabin)
Before Crabtree's injury, Seahawk fans called him an average player. Now, he's seen as a huge loss that will derail the season.Although the loss hurts, the Niners have plenty of weapons to get the job done.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Yeah, I'm acutely aware of that dynamic at work. 49ers fans like to downplay the Percy Harvin signing, saying the Seahawks paid too much. But if the 49ers would have made the same move, those fans would be fired up about it. These thing work both ways. It's part of the fan dynamic and it's a lot of fun.
Zach (Bremerton, WA)
Here is a pre Crabtree hypothetical for you. Lets say your name is AJ Jenkins and you need to gain some good muscle weight to have an impact on your team. Why not just take some PEDs, gain that muscle quickly, serve your 4 game suspension and then be an immediate impact on your team? I guess the underlying question I have in all of this is the following: Is a 4 game suspension for PEDs much of a deterant if you could now be the exact player/size your coaches want you to be?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
I think we need to differentiate between PEDs here. Some of these guys getting busted for Adderall aren't necessarily making big physical gains the way someone would if they were taking steroids. You also must remember that these suspensions are unpaid. Guys lose four-seventeenths of their salaries.
With Crabtree out 6 months does this mean more tight end looks from the niners offense?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
I would think it'll mean more for Vernon Davis, but with Delanie Walker leaving the offense, that position has changed. I really expected more of a receiver-oriented offense with Colin Kaepernick, and that is my feel longer term. But Crabtree was a big part of that in the short term.
Why is it that the national media seems to have it out for Pete Carroll? The very thought that he has something to do with the Seahawks so called drug problem is ludicrous. Your thoughts Mike? Love your work, thank you for what you do.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
Pete Carroll is an easy guy to dislike from afar. Tons of success. Looks somewhat smug. That smile, all the enthusiasm, a 60-year-old guy embracing the young culture. I mean, it's a recipe for annoying people. My impression of Carroll as a coach has improved a great deal having seen him up close. I think more of the hire now than when they announced it, for sure. I think he's a good coach.
Arizona's new coach has revamped the OL and DL and has put Palmer and his receiving corps on notice, and is getting results. Any chance the Cardinals can leapfrog the 49ers this year?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
My thought to this point in the offseason has been that Seattle and San Francisco were the top two teams, but that one of them could fall to third in the division race for a variety of reasons: injuries, improved play from a rival, etc. And I had really been thinking of this in terms of the Rams being that team to sneak in there at No. 2. I think the Cardinals will be competitive but haven't yet considered them for finishing top two in the division.
Roland Deschain (Kirkland, WA)
I'm trying not to get too excited for the upcoming Seahawks season, but with the added pass rushers and D-line draftees, and signing such a dynamic player as Percy Harvin, as well as a year of experience for Russell Wilson; I can't help but EXPECT (I know I shouldn't, I'm setting myself up for a heartbreak) we'll make it to the Super Bowl. Talk me down, Mike!
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
No problem. Bruce Irvin is suspended. Chris Clemons is out indefinitely. Cliff Avril has a bum foot. Percy Harvin wore out his welcome in Minnesota and had injury issues last season. Those are a few reasons to hold off on putting down that deposit on a Super Bowl travel package -- unless you'd be OK risking seeing other teams in the big game.
First off asking this in general, not towards only the Seahawks. Has the NFL ever thought of penalizing teams who have several players suspended for illegal substances? You would think that if a team has, lets say draft picks taken away, maybe the players would be less likely to take the substance and teams may get more involved?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Teams can be fined for having multiple players suspended for games that occur during the same season. Right now, Seattle has one player suspended for the 2013 season.
Rob (Augusta, GA)
Seahawks' depth is dwindling, Niners took a big blow, Arians is ripping WR's...seems like the Rams are having a better summer so far for the simple fact that no negatives is a positive.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
You mean your faith in the organization wasn't rocked by Rok Watkins' suspension? We're talking a lot about perceptions here, especially when it comes to Bruce Arians publicly criticizing receivers. That snippet is not representative of the offseason experience for Arizona.
Pete Carroll loves low character players who have high upside. Mike Williams, half the 2013 draft picks, Harvin, and various PED users. As a fan, I want to win but this behavior makes winning bittersweet.
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
Every team loves really talented players. Every team is willing to take risks. Some are more open to it than others. Some are more honest about it than others.
Chris (335iRobot) (Mesa, AZ)
Sando.. any set schedule for training camps and your visits this season during camp? I don't even know where training camp will be here in Arizona... I don't think the Cardinals do either.
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I'm booked to visit Rams OTAs in June, but have not yet made arrangements for training camps. Teams have not put out their camp schedules yet, anyway.
Rob (Augusta, GA)
With all these weapons the Seahawks seemingly have now, do you see it becoming a source of contention when somebody isnt getting the touches they want? Do the Hawks have any players that you think would start complaining if it fell that way?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I see it being a problem if the team loses, but not if the team wins. Winning overcomes all.
chilly17 (wasted, po)
Sando! Appreciate your work during the dog days of the offseason. In what has the potential to be a great long-term rivalry, I must admit (and as a Niner fan I'm obv biased) that I'm sick of hearing about Russell Wilson's otherworldly leadership qualities. From everything I've heard/read, Kaep is first in/last out workaholic and given his strong academic background I doubt he's laggin on playbook study. You give RW any bonus points for "intangibles"? They both deal with the media in the style of their coaches
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Yeah, I think you make some fair points. Wilson did do it for a full season, and he won the job outright as a rookie over a player the team had signed to a decent-sized contract. What he did through his leadership skills and on-field ability was more impressive than what Kaepernick did in terms of winning the job. Kaepernick hung in the shadows for a season and then took over when the starter was injured. So, from that standpoint, I don't have a problem with Wilson getting his due. But I do think Kaepernick has not yet gotten his due in those areas to the degree that he probably deserves. There is time, however. People just need to learn more about him.
Lot of discussion about Crabs recovery time, hearing 6 months from a lot of pundits. Do you think thats underselling it given the importance of quick cuts and such with WRs?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I think the team is going to project a glass-half-full mindset in hopes Michael Crabtree makes a quick recovery.
Darian Stewart had some flashes of a star during the 2011 season, then he lost his job to Dahl somehow. Do you think we can see a good performance out of his this season?
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
I think he can be a decent starter for a good defense, but I would think he'll be a player the team is thinking about replacing as it continues to build. I remember Stewart rushing toward the line of scrimmage aggressively and sometimes missing his target spectacularly.
Joe Cool (Montreal)
Sando, any thoughts about Crabtree's injury actually being a long term plus for the Niners, from a stainpoint of being able to re-sign him after 2014?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Yeah, that is a back-of-the-mind consideration. Colin Kaepernick had to get a contract first. Now it's maybe easier politically to wait on Crabtree, which the team might have done anyway. But we could also be in a situation like the one that arose in 2009, when concerns about a foot injury created a gap in what Crabtree thought of himself (top three talent) and what the 49ers thought of him (not drafted in the top three). See what I mean? Crabtree could get healthy again and then expect to get paid like the guy who had 1,105 yards receiving in 2012. The 49ers might not see him that way at that time.
Do you see Tavon Austin being a WR cornerstone or simply a situational guy for the Rams?
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Unless my thinking is outdated, I think he has to be a cornerstone when taken eighth overall. The salary and cap dynamics aren't what they once were for top-10 picks. That is why I admit that my thinking could be outdated. But I do think the Rams are excited about Austin -- so excited because they think he can help them as an every-day player.
Mr. Sando,I'm not sure which if any Seattle practices you have attended, but have you seen/heard of any significant defenses in how the defense is working together under Dan Quinn, as opposed to Gus Bradley.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
I was there for the rookie camp. I have not seen them practice offense vs. defense. It is too early.
I do not see the loss of Delanie Walker has a big loss. Yes he presented mismatch problems b/c of his speed but dropped way to many passes. Mcdonald has speed, can block better, and has better hands. your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Walker's versatility was important to the offense. I agree to this extent: different does not automatically mean worse.
How serious is Jeff King's knee surgery? Will he factor into the TE rotation for the Cards this year?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Seems to me that is one position (tight end) where the Cardinals will consider upgrading overall. Not right now; it's too late for that in 2013. But for the longer term. King has been banged up. He had a quadriceps injury going into last season. The Cardinals expect King to be fine for training camp. However, they really want to run a lot of two-tight end stuff and it seems to me they could use help longer term. Rob Housler is going to factor, but he looks more like a receiver than all-around threat, at least from what we've seen so far.
What do you expect out of the Cardinals defense? Personalwise they look to suit a 43 better, scheme wise they say 34. What do you see coming (considering OTAs too) and who is your secret superstar on that defense? And what do u think of Jemell Flaming? All this DB Additions a bad sign?
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
It sounds like the Cardinals will be a base 3-4 with some 4-3 tendencies. The defensive ends will rush upfield more than in the recent past. Secret superstar on the defense? I need to think about that one.
supninerfan (ft lauderdale)
Sando, I noticed when answering the question about Caroll you left out the way he left at USC. Do you really think that does not influence the perception people have of him.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I think that does affect how people view him. Then throw in these player suspensions with Seattle and it just validates in people's minds what they thought they knew about him already -- even if that is not the full picture.
How much do you attribute the PED use for Seattle to the "always compete" mentality Carroll established? He's known for showing players videos of rookies and saying "see this kid? He's coming for your job. What are you gonna do about it." This is a great motivational tool, but could it be that guys are so worried about losing their jobs that they are willing to cut corners in order to improve?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
That's an easy connection to make but a tough one to prove. First, consider the process for testing. A few guys chosen periodically during the offseason. Right there, we don't know who has and has not been selected, and when they were selected. If a player used Adderall while partying and then was not tested right away, that player could get away with it and we might never know. I think it's tough to find a clear pattern when we're talking about a relatively small number of players. Now, if the NFL tested every player in the league every day and Seattle had a statistically significant increase of positive tests, I'd feel better about connecting those dots. Now, could the head coach do more to establish a culture that discourages this sort of thing. Yes, absolutely.
Tribe (Sando's kitchen)
Any word on Victor Cruz to SF? Personally, I'd love Cruz but he might be expensive. Which route do you see the 49ers going?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I had that fleeting thought myself but suspect the 49ers would see that type of move -- trading for a player and then paying huge money to that player -- as a panic move under these circumstances. I suppose it would be only a "bold" move if they made it. On the other hand, the 49ers have additional draft ammo in 2014. The question is more, should they consider such a move?
Tribe (Sando's kitchen)
Any updates on M. Lynch's suspension?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
There is no suspension to talk about at this time.
Been hearing Rumors, the Niners are interested in Moss coming back, any truth to those rumors?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I haven't heard that, and it would surprise me if the 49ers went that direction. Think they would rather let their young guys emerge. Moss is not the future.
Who do you project as the starting corner opposite "Pat P Time" in AZ? Powers is getting 1st team reps, but isn't Cason the better corner with Powers being a better nickel?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
I have expected Antoine Cason to win the starting job, with Javier Arenas and Tyrann Mathieu as primary slot corners. Powers is someone I need to consider more strongly.
retodd (Tribes Tee-Pee)
Is this the year that the Rams can get a winning season?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I don't think the Rams plan to limit it to a one-year thing. They expect multiple years with a winning record. I am expecting something in the 8-8 range until we get a better feel for what some of these young players can do.
Even with the recent developments in SEA/SF, you still see both as the teams to beat, Or have my Rams inched closer? I know its early but.......
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
The Rams have advanced their plan this offseason, but we do not yet have a great feel for how it will translate right now. That is because they are so young. Who will emerge at running back? Wide receiver? What will Alec Ogletree provide? How about the safeties? Is Janoris Jenkins ready to take the next step? Will Jake Long stay healthy. I think if you put the Rams's win total on a bar graph and were looking at 2012 to 2016, the bar would climb. But it might not be a continuous climb. I'm not ready to say they'll have a winning record this season, at least until we learn more about the young guys.
I know the niners and hawks are favored, but with the injury to Crabtree, the fact that these are 2nd year QBs. Can we possibly see a Cam Newton like regression and the RAMS taking the division?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
Cam Newton played pretty well last season, at least later in the season. I don't see any obvious reason for Wilson or Kaepernick to take a big step back. There certainly can be variance in how a player performs from one season to the next. I just think Wilson and Kaepernick have reason to improve, as well. Think about their 2012 seasons. Kaepernick gets thrust into the lineup at midseason with minimal reps and has to produce. Wilson isn't named the starter til right before the season. These guys should be more comfortable this year. They also have good supporting casts.
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. My pleasure as always. Gotta run, but it's been fun.