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 for Mike now and join him in The Show on Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Sando, your the man when it comes to Niner coverage! Im gonna put you on the spot here...ARE YOU A BELIEVER WHEN IT COMES TO ALEX SMITH? Heres my key to success for Alex. We wanna run the ball, I like that! If they let him make throws on the run "outside the pocket" I think he can do well. Kinda like Jeff Garcia did for us. I don't think he will ever be a "pocket passer". Run the ball, let him roll out, short effective passes! Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Not enough of a believer to just declare him the starter at the expense of everything Shaun Hill has built. Smith needs to earn the opportunity. Once he does that, I think it becomes an exciting time for 49ers fans. Maybe this time will be different.
Tez (Atlanta, GA)
Just how good will the 9ers Defense be this year? How real is it that the 9ers can win the division and make it past the first round of the playoffs?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
I think the 49ers are good enough to get into that 8-8 range and they can be better than that with better-than-anticipated QB play.
Word out of Seattle is Hasselbeck looks great, Curry will be a beast and Carlson is going to be dangerous this season. Do you still have the Hawks # 2 to the Cards?
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
I saw that John Clayton wrote something along those lines, based on what people -- including me, perhaps -- have been saying after watching practice. My stance on the Seahawks remains unchanged. Let's see how the QB is holding up through camp. Walter Jones and Patrick Kerney, too.
Brandon (Memphis, TN)
First off Mike, Great job being the best blogger on ESPN...now that the kissyface stuff is over----Am I the only Seahawk fan that is more worried about depth at RB then quality? JJ will do fine when given the chance (he has been splitting time ever since Barber was drafted) but what is our backup plan if he gets hurt? (I know...scary word for Seahawk fans). Forsett shines in preseason but that is hardly reason for a warm fuzzy if JJ gets hurt. I see forset as a change of pace guy at best...and TJ is not an every down back either. Thoughts???
Mike Sando (2:04 PM)
I also think it's a depth issue more than a quality issue. The quality is not great, but it's good enough, in my view. But what happens if an injury sidelines Julius Jones?
Jay (San Jose, CA)
Mike, I know alot of people say that Thomas Clayton should be on the 53 man roster instead of the practice squad... so does he have the potential to be a future starter?
Mike Sando (2:05 PM)
I have not seen the evidence. The 49ers drafted Glen Coffee, so that might be your answer as to what they think about him.
Matt (San Diego, CA)
Have we heard anything about the next (hopefully) extension/signing for the Cardinals? Dansby is supposed to be next in line, but if that's not possible because of what he thinks he can get in the coming years, is there anyone else we might go after now?
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
I think the situation is clouded. Anquan Boldin would be closer to the front of the line, but I'm not convinced the organization really wants to get that done in the near future. I would have pointed to Antrel Rolle as a possibility, but the team paid quite a bit to Adrian Wilson. Are they going to throw a bunch of money into the other safety spot?
Bryan, Santa Fe, NM [via mobile]
Hey Mike, after the past month of OTAS and mini camps how is the new Rams defense looking. Also have you a lot of improvement in the team overall. Also if they stay healthy and with their schedule what are their chances of having a winning record. Thanks
Mike Sando (2:10 PM)
Seems to me depth at linebacker would be a concern. Bernie Miklasz and I were just talking about that on the air today. What happens if an injury sidelines Chris Draft or one of the other starters? I'm not really sure the Rams would have the personnel on defense to handle that situation. The Rams will be better on defense, no question, though. They will be more competent scheme-wise, I think, and their secondary should be improved.
Mitch (Scottsdale, AZ)
How much has changed between this off-season and last season when it comes to the amount of Cardinals fans? Has the number of Cards questions increased exponentially?
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
The number of questions I get from Cardinals fans has fallen off some as the offseason has progressed. I hear from 49ers and Seahawks fans regularly no matter what is happening with those teams. There's a core of Cardinals fans I hear from somewhat regularly, and fewer Rams fans. A more competitive division could help even up things in the future.
AgentJ (Issaquah, WA)
So far the word from camp is that Aaron Curry can in fact be an impressive pass rusher. It is obviously without pads, so the real thing would be very different, but assuming that Curry is in fact better then advertised in getting to the quarterback, how could this affect the way the Seahawks use him?
Mike Sando (2:14 PM)
Some of that will depend upon whether Patrick Kerney gets healthy and whether the younger guys -- Lawrence Jackson, Darryl Tapp, Baraka Atkins -- realize more of their potential. Curry has indeed made a very strong initial impression and he looks like he'll be a very good player early in his career.
kevin [via mobile]
In the lastest NFL power rankings the Seahawks sit at number 20. Why are they rated so low. I know they went 4-12 last year but the team was destroyed by injury.Why the lack of respect?
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
The injury question marks create uncertainty. Tell me whether Hasselbeck, Kerney and Jones will be healthy. If they are healthy, this is a team that could deserve to rank in the top 10-15. Take away one or more of those guys and we might be talking about the 20s again. It's not respect so much as uncertainty.
Alexandra (San Francisco, CA)
Why won't the 49ers go after an elite quarterback?
Mike Sando (2:18 PM)
Most of the available quarterbacks fell into that middle tier. And the 49ers determined they already had that type of player in Shaun Hill. The Jeff Garcia situation comes to mind. Mike Singletary pretty much said he wasn't sure whether Garcia would be an upgrade over what the team had. As far as elite quarterbacks, good luck finding one. I suppose they could have gone aggressively after Jay Cutler, but the price was high and we don't know if Cutler would have been interested in playing there.
tom (orinda, CA)
Are Cards NT's good enough (Gabe Watson with knee injury, Alan Branch with motivation) to go along with their great LB's to be the best defense in the NFC West.
Mike Sando (2:20 PM)
Gabe Watson can be a good player, but that knee injury has been holding him back and I'm not convinced he'll put it behind him entirely, at least for a while. This is the time of year when we tend to hear positive things about players turning corners and stepping up their games. Kentwan Balmer in San Francisco, Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp in Seattle, etc. Haven't heard much about Branch that makes me feel he's going to arrive.
Tyler (Huntington beach, CA)
Hey Mike thanks for aswering q's from all of us........what do you think ALex needs to show to become the starter in Sing's eye's?....I know its the magic in the huddle thing but what really does that mean?
Mike Sando (2:21 PM)
Smith needs to play well in the exhibition games and lead the team convincingly. I do not think he can seal this deal in practice. That is only part of it. He needs to look like The Man in the games this summer.
Broad Street Brian (Philly)
What under the radar NFCW player is about to have a monster Fantasy Football season?
Mike Sando (2:23 PM)
This is a high-risk question to answer. There might not be such a player. And you likely don't want me to name an already emerging young player such as John Carlson. Those things said, let's take a gamble on Vernon Davis this year. He still has much to prove before most of us are going to believe, but I could see him having a good season, if not a monster season.
Scott (new orleans)
Do you think our secondary is better wil Bly over Harris. When i think of harris i cant get rid of the image of him getting burt over and over in the 2007 game vs the saints.
Mike Sando (2:24 PM)
My initial impression on Dre Bly was that he give the 49ers something different because he's so much more aggressive in playing the ball. I then looked at the interception numbers for Bly and Walt Harris. Harris actually has quite a few more picks in recent seasons. That surprised me based on my perception of how each man plays the game. I think it's a little more exciting/interesting to have fresh blood back there. We know what Harris brings to this defense. Bly provides a changeup.
do you think the rest of the leauge will figure out how to guard Fitz? Or will he be able to continue his crazy play off and Super bowl run into the season?
Mike Sando (2:26 PM)
The way to defend Larry Fitzgerald is to jam him off the line and buy time to get your head turned around to see the ball early. Nate Clements has done a pretty good job at times. The hard part isn't developing a strategy for playing Fitzgerald. The hard part is making that strategy work consistently. I do not expect teams to suddenly "figure out" Fitzgerald and solve him.
Core Cardinal Fan (Scottsdale)
Aside from the cap implications, is there any reason why the Cards would divert so much $$ early in Wilson's contract?
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
I don't see how we can separate cap implications from the way they structured the deal. I suppose the nice thing about guaranteeing the base salary is that the money generally gets paid over the course of a 17-week season. That is easier on the cash flow than paying out the bulk of that figure -- $8.5 million in this case -- up front.
#1 NINER FAN (east coast)
I think the biggest question with the niners should be pass rushing? I'm kinda tired of the same qb questions every off season. Lets just go with the guy who gives us the best chance to win which is Shaun Hill. We have an above average secondary, real good LB's but not a very effective pass rush. Do you think the problem is personel or lack of agressivness? I'd sure love to see Patrick Willis flying in there after opposing QB's!
Mike Sando (2:31 PM)
In Shaun Hill, the 49ers would be going with the guy who gives them the best chance not to lose. So much of finding a QB is making sure that guy doesn't lose the games. Hill seems like a guy who will not lose the games. Is he good enough to win important games? That seems like a more viable question. On the pass rush, the personnel is certainly part of the issue. The 49ers have not had pure pass rushers. They think Manny Lawson can be one. They did not give him a chance to do that early last season. We'll find out over the course of 16 games whether he can do that.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Who's more important to the Rams for an improved defense: Laurenitis, Long or Butler?
Mike Sando (2:33 PM)
Chris Long. A good player at that position makes a huge difference. That's why top defensive ends earn so much money and that's why the Rams drafted one second overall (as opposed to drafting a safety or linebacker).
Do you think the Cardinals offensive line will be better this season with another together and Sendlein and Gandy not playing with injuries?
Mike Sando (2:37 PM)
Yes, that is reasonable. I also thought Levi Brown showed some things late last season.
Rob (Allentown, PA)
Cardinals fans aren't as active in the offseason with questions and such because this is the first time we've actually been looking forward to feilding a good team. Usually we have low expectations going into the season and don't want to make ourselves miserable before the season even starts. It's hard work being a lifelong Cards fan!
Mike Sando (2:40 PM)
My sense is that Cardinals fans need to gain some confidence. I saw this first hand when visiting with fans in the parking lots at University of Phoenix Stadium. Quite a few of them seemed to be anticipating the worst even when things were going well. Perhaps they will overcome that as the team enjoys success more consistently.
Seahawks Rule (Ellensburg)
Where do you rank a healthy Seahawks recieving core.
Mike Sando (2:41 PM)
Probably second-best in the NFC West, with the 49ers having closed the gap behind them in that third spot.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Rams' Question: Do you think their O-line will be better this year and do you think that that coupled with their supposed commitment to the run will transfer to a big season for S-Jax (if he stays healthy of course)?
Mike Sando (2:44 PM)
Yes, the Rams' offensive line will be better this season. How could it not be better, really? Stabilizing the center position should help both guard spots.
Michael (Oak Harbor)
How do you like the additions at DT for the Seahawks, How much will those additions Help out the out side pass rush and How do you like the depth along the D line as a whole?
Mike Sando (2:46 PM)
I like the moves on paper, but in reality, I don't know a great deal about Colin Cole. Haven't watched him play much. I think Cory Redding should help.
Mike, I am a Seahawks fan, and while I hate to say this, doesnt it make sense for the Hawks to release Branch? He is such an injury liability and makes a nice chunk of money. Continuity is important and Id hate to see him go down again in mid-year.
Mike Sando (2:49 PM)
I don't think that would be a good move right now. This team went through so much at the WR position last season. The Seahawks might be in better position to make that type of move after the 2009 season. Branch has produced pretty well when he has been healthy.
Patrick (Franklinville, NJ)
What do you think of 49ers HC Mike Singletary?
Mike Sando (2:54 PM)
My view of Singletary has evolved as Singletary has evolved. I was skeptical early. He has improved the way he handles situations. He seems to have command of the team. I thought he made a wise move by hiring an administrative assistant to help run practices and run his schedule. Singletary is trending upward in my view.
Brandon (Bellevue, WA)
Does the Seahawks' D look different then in years past? There has been talk of instilling a new defensive scheme that is unique (West Coast D) but is it truly unique or just a variant of the Tampa 2?
Mike Sando (2:59 PM)
I think this defense will be very different in 2009. We'll see a more sophisticated defense and a smarter defense. Those are my early impressions based on what I've seen and heard at practice and based on what I've heard from speaking with players.
Mike- I assume the Cards are the clear cut favorite to win the division but could you make a case for the other 3, even the Rams?
Mike Sando (3:00 PM)
I have a hard time making a strong case for the Rams based on their talent level. Strange things do happen. The Rams could conceivably exceed all reasonable expectations. I just think the other teams appear closer to overtaking Arizona. I wouldn't even necessarily call the Cardinals a clear-cut favorite. I think the Seahawks and 49ers can be very competitive within the division if certain things go right for them.
tom (orinda, CA)
do you think the niners are intentionally playing for next season by trading their 2 and 4 picks. I look at the quality drafts of the other 3 teams filling big needs and key players getting healthy, what probability do you give for the niners finishing last. The Rams greatly improved their OL with Brown and Smith.
Mike Sando (3:01 PM)
I do not expect that to happen unless the QB situation really spirals out of control. The 49ers should be good enough in most areas to avoid a disastrous season.
Mike Sando (3:04 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat today. Hope to see you on the blog. And if you haven't added me as a friend on Facebook, consider this a formal invite.