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 (1:01 PM)
Greetings. Here we go.
Spencer Meloche (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
Does OLB become a need for the Seahawks with the arrest of Leroy Hill, Do you see them drafting a linebacker who can also get after the quarterback?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
This was a need anyway. Leroy Hill was nearly cut during last season, but the team needed Malcolm Smith on special teams. I would think Seattle could use a mid-round pick for the position. No need to over-invest in the position.
Would a recently released Ahmad Bradshaw be good fit for any of the NFC West teams? *cough**cough* Cardinals *cough*cough*
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Yeah, I would support that type of signing. It seems to me the Cardinals need to upgrade that area, probably more than one way. They obviously cannot count on their current backs to stay healthy. LaRod Stephens-Howling should have value still, but not as a starter. Ryan Williams should have value still, but can he get healthy? The foot surgery for Bradshaw is a concern, though. How many injury question marks do the Cardinals need at that position? I need to research this one more, but on the surface, I'd be intrigued.
James Barr (Kirkland, WA)
Mike, what do you think the chances are of the NFC West sending three teams to the playoffs next season?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
The odds are against it because you sometimes cannot control how well teams outside the division will fare. It's a testament to the NFC West that we can discuss the idea with straight faces. I'd be surprised if there were not two, and less surprised if there were three.
ancientage530 (Lake Tahoe)
Bigger need to address for the 49ers: Defensive Line or Secondary?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I'd say defensive line is where it starts. The defensive line makes life easier on the secondary to a degree that the secondary cannot reciprocate. Someone suggested yesterday that the 49ers take a look at Richard Seymour. That's an interesting suggestion. I'd go with the draft, too. I don't think the 49ers have big problems in their secondary.
Aeneas Williams better get in the HOF?. He was a flat out stud. He was like a really fast, more athletic Ronde Barber, which is a scary ass man. Then you throw in the guy?s stats and it?s case closed.
Mike Sando (1:09 PM)
Yeah, I agree with you, and I think the other Hall of Fame voters tend to agree. Sometimes with a lesser-known player there's a period of time where some of the voters get better informed on some of the details. Aeneas Williams has made the final 10 in each of the last two years. I think 2014 will be a really good opportunity for him to break through. He was a dominant defensive back. Gave Michael Irvin all he wanted back in the Cardinals' old NFC East days. I just love the way Williams played the game. Hall of Famer in my book.
Steven (Tampa, FL)
Pass rush is a big need for Seattle obviously but if a good number of pass rushers are off the board already at 25, might they look at a offensive playmaker like Deandre Hopkins, or Zach Ertz? Russell Wilson would benefit from another weapon.
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
You seem to have a good feel. I don't think there's a direction in which the Seahawks have to go at No. 25. The felt some pressure to go offensive line in that spot a few years ago. The roster is further along now.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
Word sports talk radio is that Dalanie Walker would be a good fit as a second tight end on the Seahawks, sound good to you?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Love Delanie Walker's game. He's a really good player who has become a devastating movement blocker. Crushed Ed Reed on that touchdown run in the Super Bowl. Walker is also a very good special-teams player. I remember back in 2007 talking to Trent Dilfer, then with the 49ers, about some of the more talented players on the team at that time. He spoke so highly of Walker. The talent has been there. Walker will be best off staying in San Francisco because he fits what they do so well. But if the Seahawks could snag him, I think it would be a really good move.
Matthew (Willows, CA)
Are there any indications that AJ Jenkins might be able to contribute next year or is he looking like a total bust?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
He's gotta play next season. I'd be surprised if the 49ers brought back Randy Moss.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Wilson pulled in the fan voted NFL.com ROY while only placing 3rd in the AP poll. Where is the disconnect? Are sports writers so invested in preconceptions that they can't see truth or is it a fault in the fans and not understanding the game?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
The timing of the voting is probably key. Guessing the NFL.com voting extended into the playoffs.
Todd (San Francisco)
What do you think of Chris Cullivers future with the 49ers? If the niners do decide to keep him, what do you think they will require him to do in the offseason to make amends with the SF community?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Culliver has already said through his representative that he plans to dive into community work this offseason. I think that will help him remain with the team.
Steve C. [via mobile]
Sando in your latest audio piece with Bernie he said that you and him disagreed about Sam Bradford ... what was it exactly that you two disagree on?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I was wondering the same thing, honestly. I thought we both saw Bradford as having unfulfilled potential heading into a pivotal 2013 season. I'm open-minded on Bradford and wasn't sure what Bernie meant. Maybe we can revisit that in the future.
What do you think is the most the 49ers could get in return for Alex Smith?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Third-round pick was what I was thinking.
OleSagginSeahawk (30 miles west of Seattle)
Sando - Did I miss the 9ers "Silver lining " article ?, or did you not have the heart to continue their misery.
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I actually forgot to do one even though our pal from the blog Pete reminded me to do one. Is it too late? Nah, maybe I can work one in there.
John (Bremerton )
Will Russell Wilson's dedication to film study help him avoid a sophomore slump. Where does the zone read go from here?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I was going to do an item this week on Colin Kaepernick pulling a Wilson by saying he planned to start practicing with teammates next week. I expect Wilson to have another good season. The zone read will continue to be something the team uses in doses against certain opponents in certain situations. It will not define the offense. Seattle will have a full offseaseon to make everything mesh together. I thought there were times during the season, notably at Chicago but also against other teams, when everything was really working in concert: play action, conventional runs, bootlegs, zone reads, etc.
Dotan (Atlanta, GA)
What do you think the Seahawks can get if anything for Matt Flynn?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Yeah, I would think they might be able to get a mid-round pick for him.
Even with such a heavy focus on offense why do you think it seemed so easy for the Cardinals to not give Horton the job and then let him skip town completely.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
They obviously did not think he would make a great head coach. Otherwise, they would have promoted him quickly. Remember a few years ago when Seattle had it written into Jim Mora's deal that he would become the next coach? Remember a decade ago when the Rams did that with Mike Martz? That obviously wasn't feasible in Arizona because Ken Whisenhunt wasn't retiring from coaching. But if the Cardinals thought Horton were ready to become a top coach, they would have moved quickly to get a deal.
B Mih (Seatown)
Sando, let's stir the pot here... Who is your early favorite to win the NFCW next season?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Last year, I thought the 49ers would win the division, with Seattle gaining. And I thought St. Louis had a shot at overtaking Arizona for the third spot. I would pick Seattle to win the division in 2013 if Alex Smith were still the quarterback for the 49ers. However, Colin Kaepernick's emergence makes things tougher for the rest of the division, probably. And so I think the 49ers and Seahawks are co-favorites.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Earl Thomas has dabbled in that position in the past, as I recall. Didn't Danny Amendola give him (and lots of people) fits from the slot?
Robert (Carrollton, GA)
Why you ignoring me Mike???? I even threw you a shout out!!! Mike, love your work. Quick question, ONE free agent SEATTLE should target immediately that would push them to their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl!
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Haha. I don't see one free agent that would push the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
Rams D-Line (The Lou)
Lots of talk out there is the Future QB. Wilson & Kaep type guys. I beleive they can be schemed against, like at the 3.5 games we played. We pretty much stopped them as far as running QB goes. They had some stats, but nobody was looking to how well those two ran against us as reasons for our 2 non win games.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
Except when Russell Wilson ran for the winning touchdown to cap a 90-yard drive. Also, Colin Kaepernick had a 50-yard run against the Rams with the game on the line. I do like the Rams' scheming ability, though.
Of all the 1st year starting QB's who do you think is the most likely to have a second year slump?
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Robert Griffin III is the obvious choice coming off knee surgery and being fairly reliant on running the ball as a rookie.
Do you see any way that Kevin Kolb is the starting qb for the Cardinals next year?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
Sure, I could see that for a year. Depends what other options the Cardinals have for the position. Bruce Arians is in his first season. He does not have to go 8-8 to save his job. I could see Kolb taking a pay reduction and returning to the team in the absence of a superior option.
I saw that you disagreed with Kipers Mock for the 49ers pick. Who do you think they will target in the first round?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I don't recall disagreeing with Kiper's projection for the 49ers. Drafting a defensive lineman makes sense.
Jon (Fairfield, CA)
Mike,I heard a novel concept last week that it might make sense for the Niners to hold onto Alex Smith in 2013. With Kaep only in the 3rd year of his cap-friendly deal and not able to renegotiate until after next season, $9.5M for 2 QB's is a good deal. Also with the potential for running QB's to get hurt (RGIII) it would do SF well to have a proven back-up. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Yeah, that is what the 49ers want people to believe, that they don't have to trade Alex Smith. And it is true. They could afford to keep him. But the situation would be less than ideal. Why not get some value for him when it's clear the team is heading in another direction at quarterback?
What are your thoughts on the cards offensive line next year. I'm thinking Potter at LT, College at LG, Snyder or Sendlien at C, L. Brown at RG, and Massie at RT. Do you agree? How is Sendlien viewed as a center in the NFL. Whiz and Grimm were high on him, but he seemed undersized even for a center. There's only so much technique an knowledge can do. He seemed to be bull rushed effectively.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Lyle Sendlein should be fine at center if his knee recovery goes well. Harold Goodwin, the new offensive coordinator and top coaching figure in relation to the Cardinals' offensive line, mentioned Nate Potter and Levi Brown as guys he could see building around. He implied that, at least. I'm not a believer in Adam Snyder at guard based on what I've seen from him with the 49ers and Cardinals. I'd rather have Sendlein at center. Daryn Colledge should be fine at left guard again. The development of Potter and Bobby Massie late in the season probably gives the Cardinals greater flexibility in the draft.
Brandon (Pullman, WA)
The Seahawks strength this year was supposed to be in the best secondary in the NFL, yet the likes of Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, and Ryan Tannehill exposed them at various points of the season. Do they need better coaching at the position or more depth or what?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
Improve the pass-rush. Improve at nickel corner. Continue to improve in coverage at linebacker.
Robert (Carrollton, GA)
WOW hurtful Mike... The Seahawks were 2 blown coverage plays away from the NFC Championship game. With home-field advantage next year this team is hard to beat. You cant see the Seahawks there? Explain?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
I said Seahawks look like co-faves to win the division. That hurts? Don't think so.
Spencer Meloche (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
Could you see the Seahawks picking up a Free Agent Offensive Tackle ? Right Tackle was the weak link on the O-Line last year.
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
Thought Breno Giacomini played better late in the season. No need to upgrade unless someone falls to you.
Rams D-Line (The Lou)
I know you did not just reference a 1-yard run for your reasoning. Do better than that, if you were to say they 21 yards on the last drive, then it would be a better argument. I would say the fact that the Rams had many chances on offense and missed is the reason we lost. Not because Wilson put together 1 good drive.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
I referenced a 50-yard run as well. Thought Wilson was more of a problem late in season than when the teams met early in the season. Rams did make Wilson work, no doubt. He had to hit on a couple miraculous throws to beat the Rams in the rematch.
EDTGO (THE IRON THRONE)
Sando: We send Smith a 3rd & a 5th to KC for their 2nd round pick. We select a DT with our 1st, WR with KC 2nd and CB or SS with our original 2nd. We add depth to our 3 biggest needs. Any thought?
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
The 49ers have a ton of picks, so they have flexibility. The Chiefs' second-rounder is almost a late first-rounder. I'm almost in favor of anything the 49ers can get for Alex Smith, given that releasing him would not be wholly unreasonable.
Rob (Augusta, Ga)
Is there anything you are especially interested in keeping your eye on that could be a major factor next season? Any scenario that has huge implications for any team. The QB situation in AZ and Sea last year were the obvious ones....still Az this year I guess?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Sam Bradford's continued growth. I think it's huge for the Rams and even bigger now that other teams in the division have improved at quarterback. I'll be watching to see what the Rams do to help out Bradford. What the Cardinals do at QB is another big variable. Then I'm interested in seeing what kind of value the 49ers and Seahawks get for their backup quarterbacks, and what each team does to help its defensive line.
I am so tired of people taking about how Kaepernick is going to get hurt like RG3 becuase he runs. But what these clueless fans don't realize is that Kaepernick is smarter than RG3 because he will slide or step out of bounds to avoid unecessary hits! Would you agree with that?
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
I don't know if I'd use the "smarter" label that way, but there's no question Kaepernick takes fewer hard hits.
When is Walter Jones eligible for the Hall?
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
2015, because he was on IR his final season.
Devin R (Visalia, CA)
Rams with picks 16 and 22, which direction do you think they will go?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Ideally, the team would improve its offensive line and add a playmaker to the offense. That seems pretty logical based on where the Rams stand at this point. However, I think having the second pick provides some flexibility to do the unconventional. Landing a difference-making safety comes to mind.
Travis (Springfield, MO)
Do you only take rams questions to make fun of them?
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
We get far fewer questions on the Rams than we get for other teams. I often have to manually search for Rams questions. I'll do that now.
Mike, Sorry man, but did the Rams leave the division or something? don't see any post asking about the Rams.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Here's the next Rams question. Not about the Rams. About the absence of Rams questions.
Jake (Sate Farm)
I have not heard any comments from Titus Young since being picked up by the Rams or did I miss them ?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
I wrote about this one yesterday. Seems like there's no harm in looking at a player who was a second-round choice in 2011 and averaged 18+ yards per reception on third down as a rookie. This acquisition was made on the theory of, hey, there's zero percent chance of Young helping you if he's not on your roster, so if the odds are only 10 percent by claiming him, they are still a lot higher.
I take issue with your post earlier this week stating that Sam Bradford needs to improve greatly to get near the level of Wilson and kaepernick. I concede that Bradford had the worst year of the three, but his play was not that far off in the games he played against them (he actually outplayed both at home and was comparable on the road. This is with the weakest o-line of the three teams, the weakest running game,the weakest wide receiving corps, and the least effective e tight end (all per football outsiders). Rather then saying Sam needs to improve to get to the level of the NFC west's other young qbs, I think it's fair to say the rams need to improve the team to allow Sam to reach their level consistently (he was clearly there at times as is). Your thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
On the other hand, look at how good/bad Sidney Rice and Golden Tate were before Wilson arrived. It's not like Bradford was looking at those guys from afar and wondering what it would be like to play with receivers of that caliber. The Rams would have taken their own receivers over Seattle's receivers going into last season. Rice and Tate both went from being borderline busts to becoming viable, relevant players. Zach Miller suddenly became a threat. Russell Wilson made all these things happen as a third-round pick who shared reps through training camp and was severely hand-cuffed by protective coaches early in the year. Wilson and Colin Kaepernick both had more truly big games as first-year starters than Bradford has had during his entire career. Supporting casts play a role in that, no question. But so do the quarterbacks. I think Bradford has some ground to make up.
Devin (Visalia, CA)
The Rams sleeper pick to win the NFC West?? Bradford has a way more deadly arm that Kaep and Wilson. Give him weapons this draft and we might see something special. Your thought?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I don't think Sam Bradford would necessarily finish first in a deadliest arm competition featuring Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. I would disagree with the idea that he has a much better arm than either. We know Kaepernick and Wilson can do much more with their legs. Wilson in particular excels at throwing on the move. If you had to say Bradford is decidedly better than Kaepernick and Wilson in one area, what would it be? I cannot think of one.
Brad (Reno, NV)
If Steven Jackson does not return what are the chances the Rams plug a RB into a 1st Round need. I don't believe Richardson is the answer at this point.
Mike Sando (1:57 PM)
I could see that happening if the Rams saw a really good one there. Would have to think it's an option.
To the untrained eye it seems so simple to just buy a good offensive line and protect the quarterback. However it would appear the cardinals ownership and GM's have never let this happen. Why is it so hard to find good offensive lineman?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
The Cardinals haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first three rounds over the past five drafts. That is one factor. Also, quarterbacks make the line, to some degree. Being below average at quarterback and on the offensive line is a recipe for a coaching change.
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. And thanks for funneling some Rams questions my way. They're relevant again even though the 49ers and Seahawks commanded the postseason spotlight.