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October 1, 12:19 PM ET
Chat with Mike Sando

Shane (Dale city VA)

With the Seahawks getting healthier at wr this week what chances do you give them of upsetting the giants with no Plaxico in new york this weekend to help out my REDSKINS.

Mike Sando
  (11:58 AM)

Better chance than I would have thought a week ago. One key will be how well Seattle handles its audibles in that environment. Also need to see more from the Seattle defense. Specifically, a healthier Lofa Tatupu needs to step up. Seattle has done pretty well against Spagnuolo-led defenses, but I still think the Giants win that game.

Joe (Hartford, CT)

It seems that the time has come for Seattle to finally give up their NFC West dynasty.....who takes it this year....ARI or SF???? After last week, Arizona looks like they have some issues.

Mike Sando
  (11:59 AM)

I wouldn't write off Seattle in that division by any means. I could see Seattle getting to 4-4 at the midpoint and that would be good enough to make a push. After that, probably Arizona.

Joe (Middletown, CT)

Are the Titans for real? Can this team really make noise in the playoffs? They seem to be a replica of the Jaguars the past few years with the defense, and the change of pace backs. What do you see them doing this year?

Mike Sando
  (11:59 AM)

The Titans were a playoff team with a quarterback throwing far more INTs than TDs. I think Kerry Collins gives them a little more consistency at the QB position, making the Titans a threat to not only make the playoffs, but advance this time.

Ricky (Indianapolis, IN)

Although Brees torched the secondary for the 49ers, I am not too discouraged. The Saints are better than their record suggests & Brees is arguably the MVP to this point. I think the Niners have a shot against NE and will be competitive and close in the 3 tough games following. What are your thoughts? Can they steal 2 of the next 4?

Mike Sando
  (12:00 PM)

I think the 49ers must beat the Patriots to go 2-2 over the next four. 1-3 might be more likely.

Derek (Madison, CA)

To make a big deal of Anquan Boldin being in the game is rediculous. so are you saying that this would have been better if it were the number 5 receiver on the depth chart taking the hit?

Mike Sando
  (12:01 PM)

Not at all. The column I wrote presented many sides.

Erik from Olympia, WA

What are your predictions for the NFC West games this week? and what are the main reasons for your picks?

Mike Sando
  (12:02 PM)

Probably leaning toward New England with 2 weeks to prepare. Thinking the Cardinals face a must-win situation that helps them get it done at home. And thinking the Giants probably have the edge at home against Seattle, at least until the Seahawks prove they can function offensively away from Qwest FIeld.

Steve (Elkridge, MD)

Hey Mike, thanks for taking my question. After my Skins play the Eagles Sunday, they'll have faced 5 of the top 6 ranked offenses in the league. If they come out of this rough 5-game stretch at 4-1, how impressive would that be, and what could it mean for this team moving forward?

Mike Sando
  (12:02 PM)

Hugely impressive. The Redskins are answering the questions I had about them. Zorn seems to be making the transition pretty well and the quarterback is improving. I really like what Portis gives that offense. He's a tough back.

Matt (DC)

What is the deal with Vernon Davis?? Is he not good or is Martz not using his talents whatsoever?

Mike Sando
  (12:04 PM)

Davis is inconsistent. Martz determined early on that he would not run the offense through the tight end. This is consistent with how Martz has run offenses in the past. Davis has dropped a couple balls and had a couple near-misses with O'Sullivan. He's going to have limited receptions and a fairly substantial yards-per-catch. Right now I think he's most valuable in pass protection. Sometimes he appears to be the team's best pass blocker.

Deric (Twin Falls, ID)

Based on your answer to Erik, it seems like you might be second guessing the Giants vs Seahawks out come? Eh?

Mike Sando
  (12:05 PM)

My views evolve based on the information I have at hand. Seattle's receivers are indeed coming back, it appears. Still taking the Giants.

Xander (Philly)

Do we know if Boldin is playing on Sunday? If he doesn't how much does that impact the outcome of the game?

Mike Sando
  (12:06 PM)

I'll be shocked if Boldin plays this week. The Bills have a better chance without Boldin in the game. Fitzgerald is still a tough cover though.

David Fairborn, OH

PR prespective...wouldn't it have been better for the Bengals to have picked up S. Alexander?

Mike Sando
  (12:06 PM)

PR, yes. Unless that stands for powerful running.

Jon (Mad-town)

A depressing blog this week about the NFC North QB situation. Who wins the NFLs 2nd worst division, the injured Pack, the undisciplined Bears, or the Overrated Vikings?

Mike Sando
  (12:07 PM)

I would lean toward the Packers based on their overall roster but the Bears have shown enough fight to contend.

RJ (Beantown)

How much longer do you see Portis lasting, and thus what kind of window does Zorn really have with the Snyder... err, Redskins?

Mike Sando
  (12:08 PM)

The window is a big question I have long-term. The Redskins are an older team. They have the oldest starting offensive line in the league even with Heyer at RT. Portis is such a tough guy in how he plays. I think he should have a couple more years.

Ruben (Highland, Ca)

Mike, Thanks for taking our questions. With the majority of the distractions (Linehan gone, Shaw likely to retire @ end of year, Zygmunt also likely leaving due to illness @ year end) gone from Rams 2008 season, do you see enough talent for them to get back into the NFC west race?

Mike Sando
  (12:09 PM)

The Rams have a chance with Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson, but I don't see the Rams contending seriously given the current talent surrounding those players. The Rams are the oldest team in the league. Their backups are old.

the catfish (bay area, ca)

i have a feeling the rams are gonna bounce back from 0-4, they have way too much talent and it just seems that linehan was a coach they werent inspired to go play for. do you think hasletts intense personality is going to inspire this team? honestly talent wise i think this team challenges the hawks and niners for superiority (sp?)....whats your take?

Mike Sando
  (12:10 PM)

I do not see it. Look at the Rams' secondary. Look at their offensive line. Look at the WR position after Holt. More than anything, I think the schedule is tough for the Rams in the weeks ahead. Hard to find victories there.

brian, ny ny

dont you think the cards should have just taken a knee and ended then game after there stud reciever took 15 minutes to carted off the feild?

Mike Sando
  (12:11 PM)

In retrospect, yes. It's easy to second-guess. If the Jets player plays within the rules and Boldin scores there, we're talking about how the Cardinals never quit.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

Is it just me or would the niners be better suited to playing a 4-3? with Manny at Weakside and Takeo on strong Justin smith on the left parys on the right and the cloggers in the middle Willis and Manny would be that much more free to destroy.

Mike Sando
  (12:13 PM)

I do not think the 49ers have the ideal personnel to run a 4-3. They have been playing with a 4-man line quite a bit.

Carlos (Reno, NV)

Mike, I believe most of the sacks given up this year by the 49ers are Offensive lines fault. Barry Simms was absolutely abused by Charles Grant. While some were caused by J.T.O not getting rid of the ball, I don't see anything wrong with Martz's scheme. Should they move Snyder to RT and put David Bass in at RG?

Mike Sando
  (12:14 PM)

Well, the scheme has to match the talent. If you want to watch Barry Sims and Tony Wragge man up in pass protection all day and then blame them when the defensive linemen break through, that is one way to go. This team has the personnel to run the ball with two tight ends. I would try that.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Who do you think should be the QB in St. Louis? Was playing Green a desperation move?

Mike Sando
  (12:15 PM)

Yes, it was a desperation move. The team paid $65 million to Bulger before the 2007 season, then failed to protect him while implementing a new system this season. And they benched him after three games? Yikes.

Dave (NYC)

Mike hope all is well with you. In regards to the Cards - Jets game and the injury to Boldin, how can the coaches both not accept blame here? Mangini for running up the score and backing the Cards into a corner in which they could not just lay down but have to go out fighting.

Mike Sando
  (12:16 PM)

No question, the coaches are responsible for how the game is played late. But if Smith plays within the rules, we are not having this conversation.

Chris (Norman,OK)

Mike, who are the potential FA QB's that might be worth a look for the Niners? I'm in favor of going after the QB at Georgia (Stafford) in the draft, and locking up Haynesworth or a lineman in FA.

Mike Sando
  (12:17 PM)

Teams do not let good QBs hit the market in free agency as a general rule.

Brandon (Florida)

Sportsnation has 53% of fans not wanting Terrell Owens on their faorite team. I don't care how much talking he does, he backs it up on the field. I'd love to get my popcorn ready in Buffalo!!

Mike Sando
  (12:18 PM)

T.O. also ran away with the honors when we asked head coaches which Pro Bowl-caliber player they would NOT want on their teams.

Dave (Denver)

In looking at the replays of the Boldin hit, it looked more like the first DB that hit him actually did a move to hit his helmet than the second one who got the fine. What is your take?

Mike Sando
  (12:19 PM)

I thought the hit from Kerry Rhodes redirected Boldin's head into the path of Smith's helmet. That said, Smith was still leading with the helmet. He bears responsibility the way a reckless driver is at fault for sideswiping another motorist, even if there was no intent.

Logan in Aberdeen, WA

Do you think Zorn will come back to Seattle if he gets the chance?

Mike Sando
  (12:19 PM)

Sure, but not as long as he has a chance to have a better job elsewhere.

Dave (NYC)

Understood. But it comes down to the fact that a hit like that could have came at any point during the game but because it came with 30 seconds left it makes it worse. On another note how do you see the Cards against the Bills this weekend?

Mike Sando
  (12:20 PM)

On paper, I like the Bills. But I think this qualfies as a must-win for the Cardinals and for that reason I think it just makes sense that Arizona will win.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

Seattle will win the division because they have the best qb and the best pass rush..... agreed? and no they wont beat the giants because we have a better qb and a better pass rush

Mike Sando
  (12:21 PM)

That is logical thinking. Eli Manning has shown championship mettle but Hasselbeck has had the better career over a longer period of time. But no question, Manning is having a better season than Hasselbeck.

Jason (Michigan)

I wish everyone would quit complaining about the Boldin hit, go back and look at the oldschool football videos where players could actually hit someone. When it's late in the game and your down big, guess what you throw over the middle your going to get rocked!!

Mike Sando
  (12:23 PM)

Except for the fact that players are bigger and faster now, and the collisions are harder. Old-school DBs didn't see many receivers as put together as Boldin, either.

Jesse (Las Vegas, NV)

Mike, what is your take on Alex Smith wanting to be involved with the team while on IR? Is he being a model teamate with free agency looming or is he showing the team he may be willing to comeback next year with a pay reduction?

Mike Sando
  (12:24 PM)

I think he's keeping open his options. If Mike Nolan is back next season, we can all agree Smith is not a good fit there. But he gains nothing by severing ties early.

Dave (NYC)

Mike, whats the deal with Shaun Alexander? WIll he sign with a team this year? He was only the MVP two years ago.

Mike Sando
  (12:26 PM)

Alexander got old. He also had injury problems. He was never a physical runner. And he doesn't play special teams or project as a third-down back. He's either your starter or irrelevant. That's a problem.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

watching Eli has changed my thinking on QBs..... with 4 mins to go in a big game and no timeouts I would want Eli over any other NFC qb leading my team down the field..... thats why he is the best qb in the NFC

Mike Sando
  (12:26 PM)

Well said. As long as Asante Samuel keeps dropping that potential INT in the Super Bowl, I agree.

Jon (Mad-town)

So which young QB would you want to build your team around: E. Manning, Roethlisberger, Cutler, Rivers, Romo or Ryan?

Mike Sando
  (12:27 PM)

Tough choice, but I like Cutler. He seems able to do it all.

Dan (Phoenix AZ)

Who steps in for Q ? Breaston or Urban?

Mike Sando
  (12:28 PM)

Breaston. He's the next guy. He caught nine passes last week and seemed to remember how to line up before plays, so that was an improvement.

Levin (Indiana)

Not using Vernon Davis is just another example of Martz not adjusting to his personnel. He has an athletic freak of a TE and isn't using him except to block. He has a ridiculous RB but gives him 16 carries when he is averaging 5.8 yards a carry on them. Sure they were down but they got down because Martz was passing when he should have been running (O'Sullivan fumble and pick in endzone is how they got down in the game). What is that stat going back to his St. Louis days? When the starting RBV gets 20+ carries Martz's team is something like 30-4.

Mike Sando
  (12:30 PM)

I haven't crunched the numbers again this week, but Gore was getting a higher percentage of the touches under Martz than he was previously, and he was leading the NFL in scrimmage yards through Week 3. The Davis dilemma is a tough one. They split him out a fair amount but he hasn't made enough plays.

Kent (Ann Arbor,MI)

Hey Mike, who's a better WR start this week? Steve Breaston, Deion Branch, or Lance Moore? And how would you rank them?

Mike Sando
  (12:31 PM)

Moore and Breaston, perhaps not in that order, and then Branch a distant third in his first game back. You know Brees and Warner can throw it around. You know Moore and Breaston will get chances given the injury situations on those teams.

Brian (NC)

Eli has had many more 4th quarter comebacks besides the Superbowl. Regardless, the near-interception by Samuel was a result of the receiver cutting off the pattern too soon, that one wasn't on Eli.

Mike Sando
  (12:32 PM)

Well said. Manning has been very good in important situations.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

Cutler suffers from Romo itis..... which means he never learned how to win big games.... in college small teams that never won never played for high stakes... so they have to learn how to win big games in the NFL.... not a recipe for a great crunch time qb.... thats why SEC qbs and pac 10 qbs are more likely to succeed in high stakes games..... at least in my humble opinion

Mike Sando
  (12:32 PM)

We'll see. I know Cutler s far and away more talented physically than Romo, and that is no knock on Romo.

Jon (Mad-town)

Has anyone ever thought that maybe Vernon Davis just isn't that good of a football player? Great athletes don't necessarily make great NFL players.

Mike Sando
  (12:33 PM)

Vernon Davis is not a mature football player and it shows on the field.

eric sf

Do the 49ers go for a wideout in the first round of the draft or do they keep on the defensive trend they have been on?

Mike Sando
  (12:34 PM)

I would generally steer clear of WRs in the first round because they often need time to become contributors and quite a few flame out. I would look at a nose tackle if the 3-4 remains a possibility. And I would look at ways to upgrade the pass rush.

Chris (Norman,OK)

If Davis is such a good pass blocker, and Martz thinks this is his best area, why does he continue to leave JT without protection on so many passing downs? Seems if Davis is our best pass blocker, you should keep him blocking on passing downs.

Mike Sando
  (12:35 PM)

I charted the 49ers' personnel use against the Saints and thought they needed to use Davis more for protection.

Jon (Mad-town)

Will the steroid mania that hit MLB ever hit the NFL? I know its a witch hunt but still...(Merriman, Panthers few years ago, Castillo, college players...)

Mike Sando
  (12:36 PM)

The NFL was ahead of MLB in terms of trying to reduce steroid use. I think that would help the NFL avoid the PR nightmare that MLB went through.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Will Engram play this week for Seattle? If so how healthy is he (percentage wise)?

Mike Sando
  (12:37 PM)

Yes, I expect Engram to play. I would think he might be 80 percent.

Mike Sando
  (12:38 PM)

But he could catch a lot of passes if Hasselbeck is as thrilled to have him back as he seems to be.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

Why on earth would you punish a TE with 4.3 speed for having a terrible oline..... you don't force him to become a 6th olineman...... martz should be giving him more flat routes and screen plays..... dont just hit him deep hit him short and let him create!

Mike Sando
  (12:39 PM)

The screen worked well at one point in the NO game. Davis got upfield for about 19 yards. I would go with two tight ends and a back, then release one of the tight ends into the pattern. That seems good in theory anyway. No one has offered me an OC job yet.

Rob (Baltimore)

Would you be saying the same thing about Cutler if that play in San Diego was correctly called a fumble?

Mike Sando
  (12:40 PM)

I said the same thing about Cutler last season, based on conversations I had with scouts for a story we wrote about younger QBs. That story quoted one scout as saying Cutler would become the face of the league.

Mike Sando
  (12:40 PM)

And that was before anyone knew Cutler was suffering from diabetes and on his way down to 205 pounds.

Sean (San Francisco, CA)

Has Tully Banta Cain been told that he will dress on Sunday? With Manny out, there could be a chance for him to step up. I was not impressed with his play last year and apparently neither were the coaches.

Mike Sando
  (12:41 PM)

Roderick Green was the player kept active at Banta-Cain's expense. I can't say for sure how the 49ers will use that spot Sunday.

Ambrosia Ratspunker (Brooklyn)

Thoughts on Jason Campbell's play so far this year? Just a few weeks ago everyone was calling for stupid Colt Brennan.

Mike Sando
  (12:42 PM)

GREAT. He is very coachable and now he is getting comfortable, not playing as though he's afraid to mess up. He has the confidence of the staff and it's helping. They're letting him audible and basically trusting him. I love his development under Jim Zorn so far.

Brady (MN)

Hey Sando, did anyone ever tell you that picture of you looks like the kid with the wicked slap shot from the Mighty Ducks movies? Do you know anything about hockey?

Mike Sando
  (12:44 PM)

Yeah, it's a great photo. Haven't heard the hockey reference. I covered a few Western Hockey League games years ago, and remember watching the Flyers on TV in the playoffs in the late 1980s with a buddy who followed them, but that's the extent of my hockey expertise. Oh, yeah, and I do remember watching the 1980 Olympics.

Chris (Norman,OK)

I disagree with Ben. You aren't punishing Davis. He's an employee who does what's needed. Coaches need to win games, not make their players happy. Most players would rather win that get stats anyways.

Mike Sando
  (12:44 PM)

It's not about Davis. It's about doing what is best for the offense. He's a tight end, not a quarterback. You don't change everything for a tight end who has not established himself as a consistent player.

Anthony (Philly)

How can you blame Smith for that hit on Boldin? If it wasn't for the first hit, there would have been no helmet to helmet. Neither hit was dirty. Do I feel for Boldin, yes, but you play the game. I do think he should have been fined, but suspended, and fined that much!! The kid makes 450k and they fined him 50k. But, I'm all for the NFL trying to protect players. Do you think, even though it was harsh, the NFL was only trying to set a precedent for the season? (Was it the first of it's kind this year?)

Mike Sando
  (12:45 PM)

We can only blame Smith for leading with his helmet in violation of the rules.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

If Mora Jr. sucks after Holmgren leaves wont Holmgren be blamed for not doing more to retain Zorn?

Mike Sando
  (12:46 PM)

How was Holmgren responsible for that? He wasn't going to dump Haskell, his longtime right-hand man.

Ryan, The Bay, CA

Sando- What is the likelihood of the 49ers turning our defensive struggles around? Have you seen this "Big nickel" package we have been using work for any other teams?

Mike Sando
  (12:48 PM)

No question, the 49ers' defense has disappointed. I wouldn't get sidetracked in the big sub talk. Defense comes down to generating a pass rush, anchoring against the run, swarming to the ball and tackling surely.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

keep Haskell OC but name Zorn assistant Head coach/ qb coach and give him a hefty raise..... not that hard

Mike Sando
  (12:49 PM)

Well, Haskell and Mora already had the AHC monikers when hired. Fact was, the organization wasn't going to commit to Zorn in the post-Holmgren era. Mora was already in place to be the next head coach. If he wanted Zorn badly, he could have made it happen.

DK (DC)

Say you already have a Gore, Willis, and a pretty warn Lawson jersey and wanted to grab a replacement for the Lawson jersey...Who's jersey would you scoop up from the 49ers?

Mike Sando
  (12:50 PM)

Justin Smith, the Cowboy. Good player.

Ryan (San Diego)

Enough with the Cutler love fest...the guy tries to throw into coverage way too much. There is no way he's good enough to be the face of the league or a perennial winner in the nfl. Just because you have a big arm doesn't mean your smart or able to win

Mike Sando
  (12:50 PM)

Cutler will need seasoning. But clearly he has taken a big step forward. I'm also impressed anytime a young starter has a high completion percentage. Cutler did that in his first couple years.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

agreed..... which is why I think if Zorn continues to do well and Mora Jr. behaves like Mora Jr. Seahawks fans will hate holmgren for naming the wrong successor..... thats my point!

Mike Sando
  (12:51 PM)

Holmgren did not name his successor. Tim Ruskell did.

Benjamin Plattsburgh

Nate Clements.... not worth the money but playing well or not worth the money and getting burned a ton?

Mike Sando
  (12:51 PM)

Give him some safety help please. And a pass rush.

Sean (San Francisco, CA)

Also, great job. I read the blog multiple times a day and appreciate all your hard work and info.

Mike Sando
  (12:51 PM)

Thanks much. I love this job.

Bill (San Francisco, CA)

Is SF going to be able to shut down moss and welker this weekend? or is it cassel that will shut them down?

Mike Sando
  (12:52 PM)

I expect the Patriots to test the 49ers' safeties. And I do expect Moss to make a big play or two.

Wes (San Diego)

O'Sullivan Vs NE or Palmer Vs DAL

Mike Sando
  (12:52 PM)

Probably JTO. He'll take his lumps again but also hit some big plays.

Ryan (San Diego)

Well KC Joyner said he made the most bad decisions from the qb position of anybody last year. The only way he becomes the face of the league is if the NFL continues to give him awards he doesnt deserve like the AFC Offensive player of the month. He had worse numbers than both Rivers and Favre.

Mike Sando
  (12:53 PM)

I'm not saying he'll be the face of the league. One of the scouts we spoke with put it that way. The point being, Cutler has all the tools. I love what Rivers is doing but think Cutler is in better position from a health standpoint to flourish for a longer period of time. he has lower miles.

Dave (Denver)

I knew Ryan from SD would pop off sooner or later. He prefers Rivers over every QB in the league, as long as he plays for the Chargers.

Mike Sando
  (12:54 PM)

A big Craig Whelihan fan as well, I am told.

Chris Jacksonville, Florida

Thanks for answering not one of my questions, but continually talking to Benjamin of plattsburgh who uses ... way too much!

Mike Sando
  (12:55 PM)

That's one way to put it ... I guess.

William (Austin, TX)

The NFL really needs to address the Pass Interference penalty. The penalty no longer needs to be a spot fould, but rather a 10 or 15 yard penalty like in college. There are too many refs that are unsure as to how to call thus making it too inconsistent. Its ridiculous how many gimmee TDs are given because of PI.

Mike Sando
  (12:56 PM)

I do not like it when a desperation toss produces a 46-yard gain. At the same time, you don't want a DB to be able to turn a potential long TD pass into only a 15-yard gain by committing a penalty on purpose once beaten.

Gerald(Detroit, Mich)

Knowing how important the regular season and playoffs are to the Patriots, do you think they will rush Brady back from his injury?

Mike Sando
  (12:56 PM)

Brady is out of the season. He cannot return for the playoffs. The rules governing injured reserve mean he will not play until the 2009 season.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Mr. Sando: I came into this season with hopes that Minnesota could go 9-7 and make the playoffs (I didn't figure much better with TJ at QB). Time for me to lower expectations and hope they don't lose a dozen games or can they get things together and make a playoff run?

Mike Sando
  (12:58 PM)

Hey, I was kicking myself from the beginning for reluctantly taking the Vikings in that division. I did it in spite of the QB situation and that tends to be a mistake. The Vikings are the opposite of the Broncos. Remember when Shanahan talked playoffs during the preseason? He knew he had the right QB. That makes all the difference. The Vikings have time but I don't think they'll get where they need to go without the right QB.

Greg (Arizona)

How dangerous would the Cardinals be if they drafted Jay Cutler instead of Matt Leinart?

Mike Sando
  (12:59 PM)

Wow. Beyond dangerous. Best passing game in the league.

Mike Sando
  (1:00 PM)

THANKS MUCH FOR DROPPING BY TODAY. I'LL BE HEADING BACK TO THE NFC WEST BLOG. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE.