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 (Mill Creek, WA)
Deion Branch has been one of Ruskell's poorest decisions as GM of the Seahawks. With him finally being healthy this year and showing some production, do you see the Hawks trading him? If so, what could they expect in return? 3rd round pick?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
The trading deadline has passed for this season.
Mike (Mill Creek, WA)
We all know an OL should be taken with one of Seattle's first round picks, but which is a more important position for the Seahawks to address with their 2nd pick. A QB to replace an aging Hasselbeck, or a stud RB for a defunct backfield? Or are they content with Teel and a Jones/Forsett/Rankin committee? I would hope not.
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
I think they need a running back for sure.
Are there any guard in free agents or any first round RT that the 9ers can draft or pick up in free agency to improve our OL we have good skill players just lacking blocking and QB.
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Yes. This is something we discussed on the blog in some detail last week.
Wasup Mike! Do you think the 9ers have enough offense this week to beat the packers this weekend. Can our defens provide pressure to QB that has constant pressure all year. Our OLB are not getting it done on the end.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
The 49ers' offense could have a hard time in this game. I think the Packers will have some problems in protection, but they'll still make enough plays to win the game. This would be a huge victory for the 49ers if they could pull it off. They have a chance, sure, but their offense must do more.
Ramesh Munnangi (Merced, CA)
Realistically, what are the 49ers chances of making the playoffs this year. No doubt they'll have to catch up to Arizona, but it seems that Arizona's got a much easier schedule ahead of them than do the Niners.
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Arizona will win the division, in my view. The 49ers have already lost to the Falcons. I think San Francisco is a longer shot at this point.
Mike (Mill Creek, WA)
Do you believe Ruskell will be given an extension this year, or has his time in Seattle expired?
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yeah, I think Tim Ruskell probably gets another chance. Any decision made would have to take into account the fact that Jim Mora will be beginning only his second season as head coach. That would seem to limit the feasible options.
Rex Hughes (Pullman, WA)
Sando...What are the Rams' plans at QB going forward? I mean they can't possibly continue with Jabba the Bulger, can they?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Marc Bulger played pretty well against the Saints. I am not convinced they absolutely, positively need to make a change there. I've always though Bulger was pretty good when he had a good supporting cast. The question was whether he could recover from all the pounding he has taken. A strong finish to this season would put the Rams in good position to address other need areas.
Hi Mike. Your thoughts on this potential matchup: Cardinals-Saints in NFC title game. Could the scoreboard keep up?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Not if the Saints continued to suffer from the current injury situation in the secondary. Kurt Warner might pass for 450 yards against the group that played the Rams last week.
If the Cardinals beat the Vikings in a couple of weeks what do you think the chances are for the Cards to be the second seed in the nfc?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Not all that great. I think the Vikings are the better team overall and they would still finish with a better record, probably.
Jimmy M (Seattle, WA)
Hey Sando, I know you cover the Seahawks a lot, so just a question on the ever-injured Seahawks. Do you think that Justin Forsett's running of 120 yds against the #1 ranked Cardinals run defense is a sign of good things to come? Can he develop into a primary back, like he was featured in week 10, or will he stay a complimentary RB to some other bad RB on the Seahawks? Also, will Julius Jones and Matt Hasselback be able to sustain the workload needed to keep the Seahawks in seemingly unreachable contention?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
The Cardinals' run defense was not ranked No. 1 when Forsett faced it Sunday. My perception is that Arizona isn't getting as strong play on the nose, and the team missed Gerald Hayes as well. That said, I think Justin Forsett can be "a" primary back for the Seahawks. Seems to me they need to consider drafting a difference maker at that position. Forsett could stick around and share the carries.
Scott (New Orleans)
Besides OL, what is the 49ers next weekest area, QB? Saftey? OLB?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Quarterback, until Alex Smith or someone establishes himself as the guy. Any weaknesses at that position are exaggerated. That is why QB jumps out to me.
Sando, what are your thoughts on the 49ers' offensive game plan this week? More run than pass, or vice versa? Personally, I'd like to see a large dose of Frank Gore and then some play-action passing. That should be effective with the DBs.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
It's tough to envision the 49ers' passing game succeeding while trying to carry the offense. There's no question in my mind the team would be better off establishing the run and then working off that.
Mike, some people have wondered it the performance of David Hawthorne might spur the Hawks into moving to a 3-4 defense. How do you think Curry would do as a 3-4 OLB, do you think Brandon Mebane could be a 3-4 end, and do you think there is any chance the Hawks would consider this.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
General manager Tim Ruskell recently said the team could consider using more 3-4 stuff next season. Brandon Mebane is 6-foot-1. I do not know how many 6-1 defensive ends there are in any scheme. I would have to ask Jim Mora or Ruskell how Mebane and others would project in such a system. Aaron Curry is talented enough to fit in any system, I think.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Do you think Jordan Kent can make any contribution for the Rams this weekend?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
No. It would surprise me if he did anything that quickly.
Mike (Mill Creek, WA)
It's clear on my 52" 1080p LCD HDTV what Dockett did to Hasselbeck last week. I never thought of Dockett as a dirty player. Do you believe it was intentional, and if so, what would be a reason? I don't believe Hasselbeck ever said anything bad toward him.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
I do believe it was intentional and I think it was more to send a message than to injure. He clearly could have done a lot more damage had he wanted to injure Matt Hasselbeck. This was one of those moves players make to set a tone and intimidate opponents. Frankly, the Seahawks need to walk that line a little more closely. Aaron Curry walked the edge early in the season. Why are the Seahawks always the ones complaining about how Darnell Dockett or E.J. Henderson or Adrian Wilson took a shot at them? Seems to me the Seahawks need to establish an edge of their own.
Chris (Danville, Ca)
From what I have seen of Alex Smith thus far in the season, inaccuracy has been his biggest issue. Is that largely attributable to needing to develop a rapport with his receivers, or is that his fatal flaw that will keep him from becoming a good quarterback?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
I suspect it is an issue to some degree beyond the rapport angle. Whether it's a fatal flaw inhibiting his development? Not ready to say that yet.
Justin (New York)
It seems like the 49ers are "close", but not quite ready for the "bigtime" yet. What steps do you think the organization should make to take this team to the next level?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
The same steps they needed to take last offseason: stabilize the QB position, upgrade the offensive line and upgrade at outside linebacker. On the OL front, I would add guard to the existing "need" list featuring tackle.
Tou Vang (Wisconsin)
Mike, (insert awesome compliments on your blog here). Is it time to fire Jimmy Raye? He clearly isn't getting the results the Niners need, even with improved play from the o-line and Michael Crabtree. It just seems they're making all the excuses (in a no-excuse game) except for the one that makes the most sense: the play-calling.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Fire Jimmy Raye entering Week 11? No way. That would set back the 49ers even more than they've already been set back while changing coordinators every offseason. I do think Mike Singletary's choice for that role was the most important hiring decision he could make. I am not yet convinced he made the right choice, but I am convinced making another chance prematurely would be the wrong one.
Keith H (Seattle)
Good morning, Mike. The 12th Man is getting disgruntled with Ruskell in the GM role and judging by the comments from Steve Kelley's column in the Times, it appears a growing number are ready to bring back The Big Show as the new GM. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Ah, yes, the glory days of Mike Holmgren as general manager. I remember them well. People thought he was arrogant and condescending when he offered "trust me" as his defense for a few down seasons. Look, I have tremendous respect for Mike Holmgren and his accomplishments, but people sure have short memories. I would wager that fans were more upset with Holmgren in 2002 than they are with Tim Ruskell right now. But when people look back on the Holmgren era, they think everything was ... P- E- R- F- E- C- T.
Do the 49ers pick best available with their two 1st rounders or do they target positions? I feel like this year they picked best available and while they have upgraded their WR play (somewhat) their major problems are continuing to bite them (poor OL play and no pass rush!). Thanks!
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
They have leaned more toward a best-player-available approach recently. The hope would be that needs and value would magically align. All things being equal, you go for need. It just doesn't work out that way always. I think having two first-rounders does offer some flexibility for pursuing players at need positions.
Hey Sando. Your NFC West coverage gets me thru the day at the office so I first want to say thank you for that. My question is when if at all this season will Wisenhunt give the green light to Beanie Wells to carry the load. He looks like a 25 carry guy and has nice agility for a guy that size.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Appreciate the support, Dave. Beanie Wells got more of the carries against Seattle and I think the trend continues as long as he produces and does not fumble. In case you have not seen it yet, I recently posted an item discussing Wells and the offense.
Josh (Irvine, CA)
I've been impressed with Jason Smith lately (as well as the rest of the RAMS o-line really). Do you see this as a sign of good things to come from the line in the future? How do you see them handling Barron this offseason?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
I see it as a great sign, Josh. Jason Smith has definitely gotten more comfortable. I remember seeing only one "whiff" play against the Saints. He is moving more naturally and growing into the role. It's great for the Rams that they have seven games left for Smith to keep playing. I see Smith moving to left tackle and the team parting ways with Alex Barron in the offseason. Barron just does not seem to be consistent enough. Might be time to move on.
Mike, Seattle has a lot of needs (offensive line, rb, qb, safety) so if you were building this team and they have two first round picks and one is in the top ten and Taylor Mays is there would you take him? or start building the offensive line? i guess i am asking would you draft need or best available of you are building a team?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Having two picks buys some flexibility. I think the offensive line needs to be addressed in there somewhere, but there is also no question Jim Mora needs to keep building the defense with the types of players he wants. I could see the team taking Taylor Mays, sure (this is without knowing how they grade him or exactly where they might be choosing in the round). My top priorities for Seattle would be offensive tackle, pass rusher and running back.
Seth A (Iowa City)
When you have a weak offensive line like the Niners do, it's hard to open up holes for the run game, and hard to give the QB time to throw. That's not Jimmy Raye's fault. I can't believe someone said they should fire him after 9 games. Did Jed York just ask you for advice?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
There is no question Raye's concerns about the offensive line and the quarterback have affected his willingness to be aggressive.
Do you think that Mike Holmgren would come in and be the GM that the 9ers need and help out our GM since they worked together before
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
The fit would be natural in a lot of ways.
Mike, In regard to the Holmgren question, do you think he just had too much on his plate trying to the coach and GM? If he could concentrate on being a GM, do you think he could be better?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Mike Holmgren is smart and would learn from past mistakes. I think he would make a good executive. He would not be the guy grinding away in the film room necessarily. But he would surround himself with some good people and I'm sure he would be better in that role than before. I just think it's funny when people act like things were great during his previous GM tenure. There was an almost irrational hatred for him among quite a few fans. I heard from them all the time.
Hey Mike, If Warner keeps up his current level of play the next few games, do you think he'll make the pro bowl. In the NFC QB roster, I only see Brett and Drew clearly ahead of him. I think he would compete with Romo for the 3rd spot. What say you?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Yeah, and I think he needs to appear on my MVP Watch list next week, provided he plays well.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for joining me on the NFC West chat today.