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 (1:03 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Gowazzu02 (Prevent Defense)
Can you please debunk the myth that Flynn is really that expensive? When you add in Wilson making nfl minimum wage and Seattle has the cheapest QB room in the league.
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
The total price for the QB position in Seattle is low. Same for San Francisco. Both have cheap starters and more expensive backups. Both could maintain the status quo if they chose to do so.
What if anything is wrong with AJ Jenkins? Why can't this guy get on the field?
Mike Sando (1:05 PM)
Great question. I would have expected more from him given the injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams. Granted, the 49ers aren't a big three-receiver team in terms of the personnel groupings they favor on early downs, but Jenkins was a first-round pick for a reason. Clearly, he hasn't shown enough to factor.
Mike if the Ravens shut down the running lanes for Kaep as the Falcons did it would leave the middle open for Frank. Do you see a way for them to close both lanes and not be exploited in the intermediate passing game?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Playing great defense at the line of scrimmage will throw off any offense. So, sure, if the Ravens dominate one-on-one matchups up front, the 49ers' offense will feel the effects. I just don't think that is likely to happen consistently enough. I really like the way San Francisco and Seattle have sprinkled the option plays into their offense late in the season. They've turned what could be a gimmick into an important part of a balanced diet.
How can Gore get fined more for wearing low socks then Brady who slid spikes up at a player? Obviously Goodell is more worried about appearance then player safety
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The players agreed to fine amounts for socks and everything else.
alex smith (santa clara)
hey sando, should I go to another team and try and make a name for myself on my own or should I Kaepernick for the rest of my career? I could potentially get playing time with kaepernicks style and still be on a winning team.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
The 49ers will determine that. They could choose to pay the $7.5 million to Smith and keep him on their roster for another season, and they could do this while still having a low overall budget for quarterbacks.
EDTGO (THE IRON THRONE)
RAMS, CARDS, HAWKS have all let you down in their last SB. How confident are you that the 9ers can do you proud and pull one out from the Ravens?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I liked all those other NFC West teams' chances but feel as though San Francisco is a truer favorite to win the game based on their strength along both lines of scrimmage. That is one area where this 49ers team might have an advantage. The 2005 Seahawks were better on the offensive line, but the 2012 49ers are stronger through their defensive front seven.
R.J. (New Delhi)
Niners should make the game plan Run heavy. Ray Lewis is pumped but is slow which we all noticed in the last game. Coming out throwing could be bad for the niners. What do you think ?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Mix it up. Make sure there are some early runs. Do not go pass-pass-pass as the 49ers did against Seattle in Week 16.
Alex Smith Fan (The Desert )
Why do you think the 49ers have not extended Dashon Goldson's contract? Don't you think that just franchising him again will actually disenfranchise him :)
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
NFL rules prevent franchise players from signing long-term deals while the season is ongoing.
A note on Flynn's contract. According to Rotoworld, he's due a $5.25M salary ($7.25M cap hit) next year with $2M guaranteed. If he's cut, the rest of his signing bonus ($4M) and the guaranteed portion of his salary ($2M) will hit the cap.In summary, cutting Flynn will only save $1.25M in cap space in 2013, probably much less than it would cost to sign a guy like Tarvaris Jackson or Matt Moore as a backup.The Seahawks FO has no financial reason to cut Flynn in 2013.
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Who said they would want to cut him?
I know its not likely, but I think it might be smart for the rams possibly tradingo after Darrelle Revis. They could give a 1st and 2nd round pick for him and move Janoris Jenkins to safety. He's not a great cover corner, and I think he could be an Ed Reed-type player as a safety. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
No, no, no. An emphatic no from me. Build through the draft to maximize value. The Rams already paid big money for a veteran corner.
Mike, at the end of the season you said the Seahawks were better than SF when you ranked them higher . Should they be playing in the super bowl instead of the niners?
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
Not at all. My late-season ranking of the 49ers reflected an uncertain injury status for Justin Smith. By the time Seattle emerged from the wild-card round, Smith was ready to return while the Seahawks were diminished by Chris Clemons' injury. I think the 49ers would have defeated the Seahawks had the teams played in the NFC Championship Game. However, Seattle might have won had the teams played a West Coast game in the wild-card round.
Shane (Stockton CA)
Any thoughts on this being a "passing of the torch" game between Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Patrick Willis has been a better player in recent seasons, so I would see this passing of the torch as being largely ceremonial.
outside observer (from the outside)
Do you think the Cards would be better served in a 4-3 and the hawks in a 3-4? It seems like the personnel is shifting in that direction for both teams.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I thought the Cardinals would have been best served on defense staying the course with Ray Horton. Once that became impossible, I thought the team should consider incorporating more 4-3 principles. Darnell Dockett is on the record saying he prefers playing in a 4-3 for clear reasons (the alignment allows Dockett to take a more up-the-field role). Now, I wouldn't change a system just to accommodate a defensive lineman about to turn 32, but if the change fits the personnel as a whole, sure, consider it. As for Seattle, I'm not sure a wholesale conversion to a 3-4 is the way to go. I think the current scheme should be pretty good.
I agree paying Smith the 7.5 and keeping him until his deal ends and it's time to pay Kaep. Plus, the guy has shown he is capable of wining ballgames and producing. Just not with his feet or blistering throws. More than one way to skin a cat right?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Yes, but if the 49ers can get good value for Smith in a trade, they should consider that as well.
What adjustments did you notice the Niner defense made at half to shut down the falcons offense?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
The secondary seemed to play better. Donte Whitner and Chris Culliver said they did a better job transitioning to their second and third calls against the Falcons' bunch formations. They said the first half was tough because they had trouble getting their hands on the Falcons' receivers, and that the reasons for this were tactical.
g-money (tha skreetz)
Young, talented, quickly becoming a nightmare on defense, what are the chances the Rams could make the playoffs next year with the NFC west quickly emerging as a powerhouse conference.
Mike Sando (1:30 PM)
When the 49ers trailed the Falcons 17-0, I was thinking about how San Francisco might be squandering a prime two-year window in which the 49ers were favored to win the NFC Championship Game in successive seasons. I thought about Justin Smith getting up there in age, possibly compromising the 49ers' defense if he declined in 2013. And I thought about the strides Seattle and St. Louis have made in the division. I thought about how the Seahawks finished only one-half game behind the 49ers, and how much better they could become now that Russell Wilson is an established player. As far as the Rams specifically making the playoffs next season, I think the divisional strength works against them. They'll be in the hunt but will need better quarterback play to keep pace, in my view.
Mike is 10k too much for socks? Even if it is a second violation.
Mike Sando (1:33 PM)
Out of context, yes, $10,500 is too much for a uniform violation. But how much is $10,500 worth to someone such as Frank Gore, who has earned more than $4 million this season? I'll answer the question: $10,500 is to $4 million as $262.50 is to $100,000. Imagine someone earning $100,000 a year dealing with a $262.50 ticket for not making a complete stop before a right turn on red.
Shane (Stockton CA)
Who do you think has been the most consistent offensive lineman for the Niners this season? I think Mike Iupati because of the amount of pulling he does on successful run plays.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I might go with Joe Staley for overall consistency.
Ravens D needs to take a page out of the Rams' playbook. The Rams' defense played Kaepernick pretty good, I thought. Their objective was to smash the run, both the RB and QB. Then they played soft defense on the WRs, making Kaepernick throw quickly to a short route, which limited big-play potential. Of course, near the end of the game in St. Louis, Kaepernick sneaked out for a long run, so you can only contain for so long. But why haven't more teams adapted a similar style of D against the 49ers?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
This is a really good question and one worth some examination. I don't know the answer off the top of my head.
It appeared as though the Seahawks defensive line struggled against the run and the pass down the stretch. How likely is it that we may see a larger shakeup in that unit than just drafting another piece (giving up on the Red Bryant experiment, etc.)?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Red Bryant was not healthy. I would think he can remain an important part of the defense once he is healthy again. But with Chris Clemons coming off ACL surgery, the Seahawks need to address that position. Maybe they re-sign Jason Jones to a more affordable contract, develop Scruggs and then draft for the line as well.
Paul (San Francisco)
Did anything Kaepernick did surprise you in the Atlanta game -- did it show any dimension you didn't expect or didn't think he was capable of?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
It wasn't that I considered him incapable of leading a team back from a 17-0 deficit in that area. It was more that seeing is believing. Now, the 49ers stuck with their desired run-pass ratio even while trailing by 10-17 points in the first half. They did not ask too much from Kaepernick. But still, the comeback on the road in a big game was a test for the quarterback, one he passed.
What are the niners three greatest needs in the 2013 off-season, i.e. free agency and draft.
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
DL is at the top. I might consider WR unless they're really confident in A.J. Jenkins. I'd have no problem with the team drafting another outside linebacker. Parys Haralson had the injury and has been around some. They should get to a point on their roster where Haralson and Clark Haggans aren't players they need as depth.
I know it's really early to talking about the draft but what positions do u think the Seahawks need to address with all their draft picks this upcoming draft?? D-line obviously but maybe a deep threat, big receiver??
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Yes, those are a couple areas I'd look at. They will probably want to get an outside linebacker. I could see them looking at cornerback given Walter Thurmond's injury history and Marcus Trufant's age. Backup tight end is one area to consider. I thought Anthony McCoy was good at times, but not good enough to prevent the team from trying to upgrade. Guard could be another position, but I think the Seahawks are comfortable there.
Mike the 49ers have been behind akers through these tough times but it seems like it may come to an end this offseason what do you think is it time to draft a mid round kicker?
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
No, I don't think using a choice that high for a kicker sounds like the way to go.
Oh great Sando how may we of the blog relieve ourselves of the scourge known as guest?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
How would you grade LaMichael James' performance up to this point? Can he become the second string RB behind Gore next year when Hunter is healthy?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
James' role will increase, yes. How much longer does Gore have as the full-time starter? Maybe the 2013 season?
Are the Cards in the QB market or are they limited to Kolb and the draft?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
All options are on the table.
Jason Cole reported that several GMs thought Flynn would be cut and Adam Schefter reported that interest in trading for him would be low. Mike Salk suggested that Flynn's agent could be floating rumors of a low interest in him so that he could choose his next team as a FA instead of being traded to whoever.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Gotcha. The interest in Flynn last offseason was ... what? Moderate, I would say. Guess it depends on the desperation level for some of these teams.
EDTGO (THE IRON THRONE)
Mike, before the season started, I remember you posted an article about the 9ers not being able to repeat their success and you guaranteed it, because of the trend that was finishing 13-3. I know we did not match the W-L record. But you also noted how most teams failed to reach the playoffs. That they had a decline. Do you have anything to say about it now?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I wrote this and would not change a single word: "The current 49ers can still win the NFC West in their second season under coach Jim Harbaugh. They can still win in the playoffs. But if they finish the 2012 season with 13 or more victories, they'll be breaking from a strong trend. Recent history suggests the 49ers should be thrilled to finish even 10-6 or better this season. Thirteen teams have gone 13-3 since 2004. Those teams won 8.3 games on average the following season. Only three finished better than 9-7: The 2007 Indianapolis Colts (12-4), the 2009 New Orleans Saints (11-5) and 2010 Atlanta Falcons (10-6)."
I'm loving the offensive scheming that the 49ers are using to get LaMichael James more touches. Every time he touches the ball, it seems like he could go to the slate with power. Do you anticipate the 49ers looking to get him out in space during the SB? Well, I'm sure you're at least somewhat aware of the ole saying...
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Yes, James will remain a part of this. He has played between 13-16 snaps in each of the 49ers' last four games after getting zero snaps previously. This past game against Atlanta marked the first time he averaged more than 3.88 yards per carry in a game.
Morning Mike, I feel like the Niners are just a better overall team than the Ravens, one could argue that they have better players at every position but kicker. Do you agree that the Niners only lose if they beat themselves with mistakes?
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I agree that the 49ers are the better team overall. However, many factors beyond the 49ers could lead to a Ravens victory. Joe Flacco playing magnificently would be one of them. They say a perfect throw beats perfect coverage. Last week, I thought Matt Ryan needed a nearly perfect game to win. He had one in the first half but could not sustain it.
Do fake girlfriends with fake cancer really concern your draft day decisions?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
Probably not a ton. However, I would want to have a feel for how every potential draft choice would be received in the locker room.
Come on mike who ya got for OROY?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
When is the vote? Midseason: Andrew Luck. After Week 15: Robert Griffin III. After the regular season: Russell Wilson. Right now: Russell Wilson.
doing any draft research yet? Think there is any way the Cardinals dont go O-line and QB in the first 2 rounds? Cards local meatballs love them some Chance Warmack in the first round.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
I would think they'll address one of those positions in the first three rounds, almost for sure.
Is Richard Sherman the first ever All-Pro to not make the Pro Bowl?
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
No. NaVorro Bowman last season, and others.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. See you on the the NFC West blog.