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.
rodney (atlanta, ga)
Which CBs that we will face this season have the skill set / speed to stick with Tavon A. when he plays the slot WR? i only see Honey Badger (tyran Matheiu) and Trufant for Falcons, Vacarro for Saints. No other team has a premier fast CB just one who are good zone guys or outside the #s coverage-type guysWhat do you think?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Yeah, very few will match up from a quickness standpoint. I thought it was interesting the Cardinals acquired another slot corner, Javier Arenas, from the Chiefs this week. It's going to be a really fun matchup to watch in the division. Seattle feels great about adding Antoine Winfield as its slot corner, but Winfield isn't going to keep pace from a quickness standpoint. Austin will also have to deal with much more physical play at this level.
Andrew (Baltimore) [via mobile]
I'm really hyped about the Lemonier pick, just watching his highlights dude looks like he's got a high ceiling how do you feel about the pick?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
Just really liked the fact that the 49ers addressed their front seven pretty heavily. It has been a strength of the team. Maybe even the biggest strength of the team. Now, there is better young depth. I'll share what Matt Williamson said about Lemonier for an upcoming piece on linebacker situations in the division: "He is a fast, long, skinny edge guy who doesnt' hold up real well against big guys. He gets off the ball well, not real fluid, doesn't change directions great, but beats you with speed and eats up space with long strides. A good-looking prospect."
Hey Mike, which receiver do you expect to lead the rams in receptions? Yards?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Tough question. Chris Givens is probably my first choice based on what we know at this early stage, followed by Tavon Austin.
The 49ers pass defense clearly dropped off late last season and in the playoffs. After the draft, it is clear that the team attributes this to lack of a pass rush instead of their cornerbacks by drafting front seven over CB. Do you agree with their strategy to improve their pass defense?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
Yes, in general, I do agree with it. Front seven more valuable than secondary.
Alexander (Vancouver, WA)
Mike,Hey these chats are good stuff - I appreciate it.I'm starting to feel like Seattle's draft technique is to look for players whose talent should theoretically get them drafted in higher rounds, but due to their different negatives (height - RW, size - Sherman & Chancellor, off-the-field issues - Michael) fall to later rounds. What's your take? Am I off my rocker? Seems like they've been pretty successful so why wouldn't other teams take this approach?
Mike Sando (1:11 PM)
Thanks, Alexander. I'd say just about every team makes calculated gambles, particularly later in a draft. Seattle is no different. Where Seattle has been different, in my view, is in the type of player it values relative to the types of players teams have traditionally valued. The qualities they wanted in cornerbacks were different for sure. I think there is increasingly more competition for the same types of players. You can bet Gus Bradley wants similar players. John Idzik might have similar ideas. There are some teams such as the 49ers who are thinking similarly at some positions. Now, I would say Pete Carroll is more open-minded about players than some system-oriented coaches would be. There are some people who simply wouldn't draft a short quarterback (to be fair, GM John Schneider was the one most interested in drafting Wilson specifically).
JEFF FISHER (ST. LOUIS)
Will someone please Give me and Snead some credit for turning this sinking franchise around through good coaching and great drafting!
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Credit earned. Jeff Fisher seems to raise the floor. By that I mean: His bad seasons tend to be 7-9, not 4-12.
Most likely rookie from the division to win offensive ROY and defensive ROY?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
The Rams might have both of them in Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree. I thought about Kevin Minter in Arizona, too. Linebackers can get lots of snaps and opportunities.
Would you bet on the Rams winning 9 this season but still missing the playoffs?
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
I wouldn't bet on it because they have so many young, unproven players and this is still a team in process. I might be more apt to bet on 8-8 if I were going to be on team records, which I will not do.
T3N9 (Sunny San Diego)
What kind of WR do you think Patton can become based on his work ethic?NINERS NATION!!!
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
I don't know. Maybe he'll be prone to false starts. That's a joke. Ha, ha. Quinton Patton was the 49ers draft choice who boarded a plane to the Bay Area, only to be informed rules prevented him from participating in team activities until the 49ers hold their rookie camp. Scouting reports say Patton has a passion for the game. Showing up a week-plus ahead of schedule makes him appear even more eager. As far as how good he will become, very tough to say.
So Mike how do you have SFs WR depth chart breaking out right now? With his latest move is Patton on his way to make a roster spot?
Looking at the schedule to me it seems to favor the 49ers. I think Seattle clearly has the best FO in football, and most talented squad, but as we see last year only half a game makes a big difference. Do you think a 2-0 start for the Seahawks is crucial to stay in the hunt given the much easier road for SF late in the season?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
Patton projects as making the 53-man roster in my view. Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, A.J. Jenkins and Patton make it, in my view. Mario Manningham's health will be a key variable for him. Would the team consider carrying him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list going into the season? I know Jim Harbaugh is really excited about Ricardo Lockette, too, but this is not the first time a team has felt this way about Lockette. The question is whether Lockette can make things translate to real games. So far, he has not been able to do that consistently enough. At least the Seahawks thought he did not do these things consistently enough.
Over/Under .5 catches for AJ Jenkins this year?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I haven't written him off after one season.
chicken bacon alfredo pizza (your fridge)
why didn't the rams bring in another qb? kellen clemons sucks and so far sam bradford has been a disappointment
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
Who would you recommend bringing in? No one they add would replace Sam Bradford. No one they add would provide a significant upgrade to the backup situation, most likely. They're committed to Bradford this season. He must play well.
I'm worried about all the hype that Seattle is getting from the media. Being a lifetime hawks fan I guess this kind of press worries me due to the fact that we have never had it and anything close to it was the M's when they won 117 games. We all know how that turned out. Can we live up to the hype? Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
Yeah, it could be an issue for some players. It will not be an issue for Russell Wilson. They call him the robot. He's that consistent and machine like. Totally unflappable. The Seahawks are counting on him setting the tone. Also, Pete Carroll was used to managing ridiculous expectations while at USC, so he should have a better shot than some at managing the situation.
rodney (atlanta, ga)
But with all these new rules to protect WRs how physical will a CB be able to get with Tavon since most slots WRs line up offset to line of scrimmage? if the long CBs (seattle) reach, he will swim move and blow by them then
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
I would also take into account the hits. They are unavoidable if you have the ball in your hands. Guys like Patrick Willis and Kam Chancellor can really put the hurt on people when making tackles. Also, I think Winfield and other vet corners can handle themselves initially at the line.
Dont you think you are blowing this drafting of RBs a little out of proportion.
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
The NFC West drafted six of them. That is a disproportionate number in relation to the other divisions.
Mike, do you agree with the 49ers selecting Eric Reid when Elam and Ciprion are still on the board?
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I don't scout the prospects. I read what people write after they scout the prospects. And I do watch some highlights, but that isn't really a big part of the "evaluation" for me. I'd say the 49ers must really love Reid if they were going to trade up for him. That is a strong indication Reid was as talented as any safety in the draft. He could have been one of those players who stock seems to "fall" in the public's eye but scouts and evaluators know better all along.
"They value Robinson as a lead blocker and for his contributions on special teams. Ware would be the better runner of the two."Sand man, Mike Rob was pretty talented RB before the starting 49er FB got injured and he converted. I like the way Ware runs but we have no clue if he's better than M Rob.
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
The Seahawks think he would be a better runner and their opinion counts.
Andy (Syracuse, NY)
Looking ahead to a worst case scenario here. If AJ Jenkins fails to make much of an impact in year two, could the Niners just release him or does his first round status and contract make him a roster lock for three more years?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
There are no multi-year roster locks. I would say a roster spot is not guaranteed this year if Jenkins completely tanks, loses focus, etc. But I do think there's a spot for him this year and it is an important year for him. The bigger question for the long term is what happens with Michael Crabtree. Do they pay him?
Mark (Sunrise, FL)
With the addition of Lattimore, does that mean they are cutting Dixon? He looks slim and trim. And doesn't IR clear up a roster spot for the team? Can't they just put Lattimore on IR?
Mike Sando (1:36 PM)
Marcus Lattimore will open training camp on the physically unable to perform list, most likely. I do not think he will be part of the 53-man roster this season. They can essentially give him a full year to get healthy without affecting their roster.
Do you think Mike Robinson becomes a cap casualty for the Hawks? He's a team leader, a ST contributor and a popular figure in Seattle but it feels like something has to give. The Seahawks listed Ware as a FB and gave him #44, and there have been rumors of Turbin getting reps at FB as well.
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
The writing is on the wall for Robinson. I could see the team carrying an extra back, but to me, it is an upset if Robinson remains on the roster past the 2013 season. And there are no guarantees for 2013. I question whether the fullback will be as important to the offense. A lot of the read-option stuff came from three-receiver sets. When you look at the five players comprising the personnel groups on a given plays -- some combination of RBs, TEs and WRs -- you have a hard time going with fewer than three receivers if you're serious about putting the best five on the field for Seattle. Does the team gain enough when Robinson is on the field at the expense of, say, Golden Tate or Sidney Rice?
Steven (Phx, AZ)
Thoughts on Daryl Washington and accusations of Domestic Violence? Already out 4 games due to substance abuse, how do you see the Cards handling this?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
I see the Cardinals waiting to see what the courts say, and waiting to see what the league says, and issuing statements when necessary, but really not taking the lead in terms of making a roster move.
What does the 49er cap situation look like in next year. Once Kapernick receives his 100+ million, will they have to choose between Willis and Bowman.
Mike Sando (1:44 PM)
Do they pay Michael Crabtree? That is one thing to consider. Mike Iupati will need a contract. Colin Kaepernick will definitely need a contract. Don't worry about Patrick Willis or NaVorro Bowman. Barring a catastrophic injury or some serious development off the field, both will be with the 49ers moving forward. They received significant guaranteed money. Carlos Rogers has a $9M cap figure in 2014. That seems too high. I don't see big problems with the other scheduled cap hits for 2015, although Ahmad Brooks' situation could be worth monitoring.
How does Thurmond fit into the Hawks future now?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
He does not fit into their future unless he is healthier.
Mike the Rams went 4-1-1 in the division last year what do you believe their record will be divisionally this year?
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Probably 3-3, with a shot at 4-2. It was phenomenal going 4-1-1 but unlikely to be sustained in this division.
You can only keep two of the 3, which do you pick?Wilson, Thomas, or Sherman
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Probably Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas. Wilson for sure. Obviously, good QBs are tough to find. And then I think Earl Thomas is special physically, someone the team could not easily replace. Richard Sherman has become a great player, but he was a fifth-round pick. I think the team could find another big corner to play press coverage and be fine with that player, even if that player could not play as well as Sherman plays. Good luck finding a safety with Thomas' range. That range is important to the type of coverage Seattle likes to play.
On paper, is it safe to say the Rams now have the fastest WR corps in the NFC West?
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
On paper and probably on the track, too. Tavon Austin and Chris Givens would probably make it so. I would want to go through the rosters to evaluate 40 times, though. Maybe that is a future blog item. Thanks for the idea.
Im moderately excited about this years draft haul for the Cards...thought it was stong in many areas of need. Mostly I am excited about Minter...do you see his playing style as a compliment to D Washington, who even with his off field troubles right now, couldnt be our best Defensive player? Or do they have a similar playing style where he could eventually replace D wash?
Mike Sando (1:54 PM)
I would see those guys more as complimenting each other, with Daryl Washington being the more athletic and dynamic athlete of the two. I would think Minter might project as more of a two-down player, but it's early to know. Washington is really special athletically, whereas Minter might be seen as more of a traditional inside linebacker, a guy who stuffs the run.
The rams now have a plethora of relatively unproven backs with talent. Stacy and Ganaway angway are bruisers. Richardson and Pead are fast. Which of them will lead the team in carries?
Mike Sando (1:56 PM)
I don't think there will be one guy with way more carries than the other guys. I'm leaning toward Zac Stacy at this point, but it's more because he seems like the early down back if we assume Stacy, Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson are the primary guys. We need to see how these guys perform during minicamps and training camp.
Mike I believe you missed this question in answering mine bud.Stephanie (Portland)Looking at the schedule to me it seems to favor the 49ers. I think Seattle clearly has the best FO in football, and most talented squad, but as we see last year only half a game makes a big difference. Do you think a 2-0 start for the Seahawks is crucial to stay in the hunt given the much easier road for SF late in the season?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I don't think a 2-0 start is crucial. Helpful, not crucial. I know we see those stats every year about such-and-such percentage of 2-0 teams reach the playoffs. Is it because they were 2-0 or because good teams tend to go 2-0? I'd rather be a good team that starts 1-1 than a so-so-team that starts 2-0. Seattle is a good team.
did the Niners over draft AJ Jenkins? plain and simple.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Jenkins was the 30th player picked in the draft and he went to a very good team that loaded up at the receiver position. Let's reassess later.
Jim Harbaugh (30 miles West of Seattle.)
Mike- During the off season, I tried this new Anger management course. The instructor gave me a failing grade. Any suggestions ?
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Was Ditka the instructor?
Chex Norris (San Diego)
Besides Crabtree, when was the last time the 49ers drafted a decent WR in the first round?
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
A.J. Jenkins, Michael Crabtree, Rashaun Woods, J.J. Stokes, Jerry Rice, Terry Beasley and Gene Washington are the wide receivers San Francisco has selected in first rounds since the first common draft in 1967. You could really say Rice was the most recent one. He was pretty good.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. We'll do it again soon.