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November 11, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Sando

Mike Sando
  (1:01 PM)

Good to be here. About to get started.

Adam R (Albany)

Mike, could my Rams actually win the West? Will the winner of Sunday's game determine who wins the division?

Mike Sando
  (1:05 PM)

Yes and no. Yes, the Rams could win the NFC West. No, the outcome Sunday isn't going to decide the division. I think the Rams will be in good shape if they win two of their next three games. Beating the Falcons in St. Louis would be huge. The team cannot afford many home defeats, having already lost to the Cardinals in the Edward Jones Dome.

Rob (New York)

Are the Hawks eating a little crow bringing back Losman since he mostly outplayed Whitehurst in camp? Why does Losman keep getting tossed under the bus for guys that can't play (like Edwards in Buffalo)?

Mike Sando
  (1:07 PM)

I just posted something on the Losman situation. I don't think the move has a great deal to do with Whitehurst. It probably has more to do with losing Zac Robinson to Detroit off waivers. The team wanted two backups familiar with its offense. Losman was really the only other option. As for the rest of the league throwing Losman under the bus, that has to be a reflection of Losman on some level.

Ismael (Omaha, NE)

Hey Mike, lets say Coach Sing gets fired at the end of this season, because honestly, this is what I see happening. I love Sing but I do not believe he is a head coach. Who do you see the Niners going after? Gruden is definitely on my wish list. If that happens, what is the number one priority in terms of position for him, or for any new coach that comes in? Keep up the good work.

Mike Sando
  (1:08 PM)

Thanks, Ismael. Gruden would be a strong candidate from a fit standpoint because he's an offensive-minded head coach who values the running game. That would fit with the offense San Francisco has tried to build. Gruden has also won without a franchise quarterback. His top priorities would be: making sure he has the right defensive coordinator, and finding the next quarterback.

Kalen (Kodiak, AK)

Which game are you gonna be at this Sunday? Any Predictions? I'll take the 49ers over the Rams and Seahawks over the Cards.

Mike Sando
  (1:09 PM)

I'll be at the Rams-49ers game. I would think the Cardinals would beat the Seahawks. Not as sure on the other game. The Rams are in position to win that game. Just not sure if they're ready to break through on the road.

Willie (South Bend, IN)

Good afternoon Mike, great job on the blog. Thanks for keeping us informed on the happenings in the NFC West. My question is in regards to the wide-out position oppisite of Mike Williams. What happened to Ben Obomanu getting snaps with the starting offense like Carroll said after they traded Branch? I'm not seeing a lot of production out of Deon Butler. Obomanu has more size and seems to make plays when given the opportunity. Can you shed a little light on this for me? Thank you in advance. Have a good afternoon.

Mike Sando
  (1:12 PM)

Deon Butler offers some speed and that was appealing to the Seahawks as they worked from largely a two-receiver offense.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How do you think that Pete Carroll is doing in his first season as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks?

Mike Sando
  (1:13 PM)

Carroll and staff have generally done a good job making the most of what they have -- which is not a great deal. They had figured out how to maximize their personnel. Their personnel subsequently changed, however. They lost key building blocks on both sides of the ball, notably Red Bryant and Russell Okung. Both were very important to what the Seahawks wanted to do. Bryant was very important to how they set up their defense.

David (fla)

How do you see Lynch doing the rest of year!

Mike Sando
  (1:14 PM)

Decent if Russell Okung is playing.

Derrik (Arizona)

Thanks to all the past and current military who keep us free to be able to enjoy football. Since the Rams have a head start in the division with a franchise QB, I hope my Cardinals send a first- and third-round pick for Kevin Kolb next year. He is miles ahead of any first-round QB draft pick or Max Hall. Don't waste the season ticket holders' money by selling me McNabb or Bulger for two years. Thanks

Mike Sando
  (1:16 PM)

Is Kevin Kolb the answer? Is he going to be that good? I agree with your thinking in theory. They need a quarterback even if the price is high.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

Do you think it is possible that Singletary retains his job after this season or has that ship already sailed?

Mike Sando
  (1:18 PM)

I believe it is possible but unlikely. Seems as though they would need to make a deep playoff push.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

Do you think Max Hall has the arm strength to be an NFL QB? Considering that Chad Pennington recently regained his starting job, maybe an NFL QB doesn't need much arm strength.

Mike Sando
  (1:18 PM)

Arm strength can be overrated. Quarterbacks can make up for having a weaker arm by anticipating their throws. I haven't seen enough from Max Hall to think he's going to succeed. It is early, though.

KING Kevin Ryan (Seattle, WA)

Will Aaron Curry ever live up to his No. 4 draft spot? Is he just not being used right?

Mike Sando
  (1:20 PM)

How does a strong-side linebacker live up to his draft spot? It is tough. I could see him taking over for Chris Clemons as the "Leo" pass-rusher later in his career. He would have to grow into that role. If that happened and Curry became a 10-sack player, he would have a chance to live up to his draft status.

Ryan (Calgary, AB)

Big fan of the blog. When the Hawks traded for Lynch, the assumption was that playing time would be shared between the two featured RB's. Early indication is that Forsett will have a diminished role. How is he reacting to the change in reps?

Mike Sando
  (1:21 PM)

Thanks. It's still a little early for Forsett to "react" to a new role. Everything I've seen from him suggests he'll take it in stride, continue doing his job and just deal with it. He likes Lynch, which helps. They are longtime friends.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

You predicted a regular season record of 6-10 for the Seahawks. The recent losing skid has been fueled by injuries, but many of those players are coming back. Seems like you are underestimating the impact of the Seahawks getting healthy.

Mike Sando
  (1:23 PM)

That is possible. I have perhaps been conditioned to err on the glass-half-empty side when it comes to Seattle and injuries. Can you blame me? Why assume Russell Okung will suddenly stay healthy when he's had two high-ankle sprains in a two-month career? The offense hasn't done much of anything all season, with the exception of a quarter here or there. The defense has run out of players lately. Red Bryant's loss appears to be a big deal. I could see Seattle outperforming my estimate, but the outlook is a bit shaky.

Sam (St Louis)

I'm shocked at the lack of respect you give to the Rams. It seems like whenever you're talking about division winner predictions, it always the Seahawks or Cardinals at the have winning the division. Like most everyone else, you had the 49ers winning the division in the pre-season. The Rams are getting better every week unlike our other NFCW opponents. We are the only team who hasn't been riding a roller coaster of good-to-awful games all year long. Not to mention that we are the only team with a franchise QBLook at your first mailbag question today, you do not even mention the Rams!So my question is this: What is it going to take for you to respect the Rams' chances as a team that can win this division?

Mike Sando
  (1:27 PM)

We agree on the Rams. I just think the Rams have a tougher schedule and I'm a little reluctant to assume they'll start winning road games. The projections made at midseason had the Rams finishing 7-9 and in second place, but they could certainly win the division. My 8-8 projection on the Cardinals was all about their ridiculously easy (on paper) schedule. I do not trust the Cardinals to win games they're supposed to win. The Rams have certainly been more consistent.

Brian (Seattle)

Although the Seahawks have fallen off a cliff the last couple of weeks, they've already picked up as many wins halfway through the season as they had in all of 2008 and one less than 2009.How much of this do you think is due to having less guys injured (except for the O-Line, which is still bad) and how much to personnel changes and coaching?

Mike Sando
  (1:29 PM)

Personnel changes and coaching would account for much of the difference. However, health at quarterback is another factor. Matt Hasselbeck was injured early last season. He was healthy this season until recently. He is not playing great by any means, but he was the best option last season and that appears to be the case now.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

Your glass half empty thinking on the Seahawks makes sense given the past two years. The glass has not even made it to half full, closer to empty than half full.

Mike Sando
  (1:31 PM)

Yeah. It's still important not to take an overly negative outlook. But the depth issue is real. You cannot have too many rotation players starting and playing extensively.

Pete (Walnut Creek, CA)

Mike, am I the only person in the world who thinks that Singletary is getting a bit of a raw deal? He did a good job last year in a horrible situation. His crucial mistake was rolling with Alex and Raye for "continuity" reasons but had he not, wouldn't everyone have been up in arms about the constant rebuilding process? So their offense has been bad mainly due to those two and now a conservative Mike Johnson... and yet they still could easily be 5-3 with wins over the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers. I know they are what their record says they are", but still it's not like this is all on Singletary is it? I feel the media blowing little odd soundbites way out of proportion makes him look far worse than he probably is behind closed doors.

Mike Sando
  (1:34 PM)

Mike Singletary is ultimately responsible for how the team handles critical situations -- in the big picture (who starts at QB) and in the moment(say, whether to go for it on fourth down against Seattle in Week 1). Singletary's handling of situations makes him vulnerable to legitimate criticism, in my view. And yet the team certainly could have a 5-3 record if a couple breaks had gone the 49ers' way. He might not be any better of a coach, though.

Sam (St Louis)

When the 49ers lose to the Rams this weekend will the media finally stop talking about their playoff chances?

Mike Sando
  (1:34 PM)

That might do it.

Octavio (Rutherford, NJ)

Can Seahawks improve on the road? They have looked like a totally different team away from home this season.

Mike Sando
  (1:34 PM)

They looked good at Chicago.

Ryan (San Diego)

Nice to see Mr. Rivers at #2 on your MVP list this week. Quite the jump up from N/R last week. A Houston win impressed you that much?

Mike Sando
  (1:36 PM)

Was looking for signs the Chargers can get back on the winning track. Rivers should stay in the mix as long as they're around .500.

SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)

Rams or 9ers this week?

Mike Sando
  (1:36 PM)

Leaning toward the Rams, but unsure.

David (Sacramento)

I used to like your columns and chats, but lately you are fielding too many questions and comments about Matt Leinart. He is in the AFC South now, so have some respect for your column on the NFC WEST. Why are you caught up in defending your views on Leinart? Why are you allowing others to run your columns? Why don't you just ignore the Leinart questions? He is in Houston and a reserve QB so leave it at a rest. Sorry to be so blunt, maybe its just cause I hate USC, but I dont think he deserves all this talk because he will never be anything in this league.

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

You are the first person to bring up Matt Leinart to me or on the blog since last week. No plans to revisit the subject anytime soon.

Adam (Gettysburg)

Mike, there are a lot of people who are saying that Alex Smith is basically done in SF. I tend to agree with them, but my question is, what happens if they cannot bring in someone like Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb this offseason and they don't have a shot at one of the top QBs in the draft?

Mike Sando
  (1:40 PM)

The 49ers would be stuck in that situation. It's important for this team's leadership to have the ability to move aggressively on the QB issue.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

Do you think Matt will bounce back from his concussion? How much of an impact will he have on the offense? (I guess it can't get much worse)

Mike Sando
  (1:43 PM)

Hasselbeck should help them operate more efficiently on offense. He's more accurate as a short thrower. But all indications suggest that avoiding mistakes is the top priority for this offense, particularly with issues at left tackle. If the Seahawks feel better about the OL situation, we might see them open it up a little.

Chris (Chapel Hill, NC)

So lets switch to Dallas from San Francisco or Arizona. The offense is just playing horrible with Jon Kitna under center, but does anything change with Jason Garrett moving to head coach? I think discipline is more of the problem.

Mike Sando
  (1:46 PM)

I don't have as good of a feel for the Cowboys, but in looking at schedules, I saw they'll be visiting Arizona on Christmas Day. How much easier is that game looking for Arizona compared to how it looked a couple months ago. I'm sure the Cowboys will be fired up about traveling to play a meaningless (for them) game on a holiday.

tom page (bellevue, wa)

Do you expect the Seahawks to resign Matt after the season? It seems like Pete is trying to do the best he can with the QB's he has, but he isn't satisfied. Seems like he will find 'his' guy next year.

Mike Sando
  (1:48 PM)

How will Matt Hasselbeck view himself at that point? Would he want another huge deal? Or would he be OK with the status quo? I cannot see the Seahawks re-signing Hasselbeck for big money. I could see them offering a more modest deal, then letting Hasselbeck decide how he fits. The situation could get interesting. Imagine if he signed with the Cardinals or 49ers.

Adam (Gettysburg)

Seriously Mike why would you post a comment about Dallas on here.

Mike Sando
  (1:49 PM)

Because it reminded me of a Cardinals note, which I shared.

marc knepper (wilmington, nc)

A bit off topic, but just feel it has to be said: first Pete Gross and now Dave Niehaus. How does Seattle go on from here? RIP Dave!

Mike Sando
  (1:51 PM)

Yes, a tough one for Seattle sports fans. Dave Niehaus has been an institution as the voice of the Mariners since 1977. He did live to 75, whereas Pete Gross, the voice of the Seahawks, was 55 when he passed in 1992. Terrible losses, both.

JT (Bakersfield, CA)

Tight races in every division this year with even the bottom teams competing in close games, and surprising week to week. Do you think the CBA issue and the uncertainty over next year has affected many front offices and caused this year to be one of the most tightly grouped skill-set batch of teams in the modern game?

Mike Sando
  (1:54 PM)

There's no question teams have proceeded more cautiously. The situation with John Fox as a lame-duck coach in Carolina comes to mind. The Cardinals trimmed a ton of payroll, albeit not necessarily by design (they would have loved to keep paying Kurt Warner, for instance, and their offers for other players, including Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby, were competitive). Wealthier teams have sometimes gone on as if nothing has changed. The Seahawks are paying two head coaches. They are paying more than $6 million to T.J. Houshmandzadeh after releasing him.

Dan (San Mateo)

Mike, how would you rate the play of Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati halfway through the season? Seems like Russell Okung is considered on a completely different level than Davis.

Mike Sando
  (1:56 PM)

Okung hasn't played enough to draw air-tight comparisons, but when he has played, I thought he looked better than either of the 49ers' rookies. Iupati and Davis will continue to improve. Iupati has some technique issues. He gets too high in his stance and loses leverage. He tries to overpower defenders with his hands. Davis looks really good sometimes. He has been a little up and down. The Kansas City game was tough for him. Overall, Okung appears most game-ready of the three. Iupati and Davis look like they'll be good players for a long time. They need more seasoning.

Dom (NY)

Is it becuase the replays are more available or is it that the officials seem to be having a terrible year? Calls wrong on the field, missed by replay and a lack of decisiveness (no TD call in Jets/Lions and Eagles/Colts game), allowing time to run off the clock. I'm not sure how to correct the problem. Fulltime refs, younger more athletic refs, etc. Your thoughts on the officiating?

Mike Sando
  (1:59 PM)

Two points. One, the NFL has tried to remove judgment from officiating. Everything is black-and-white. Did a hand graze the back of Peyton Manning's helmet? If so, throw the flag. This discourages officials from making calls based on their feel for situations. Officials are trying to make calls by the book because that is how they are judged. This can be a good thing, resulting in more consistency, at least in theory, but we might have some gunshy officials at times. Second, watching replays from multiple angles in HD exposes errors that never would have been so clear years ago. That's a huge part of the equation. Some calls appearing obvious on TV are not at all so clear in real time.

Scott (Massachusetts)

Hey Sando love the Blog. The Seahawks Bandit defense seems to be effective when used. Do you see the Hawks using this package more in the second half of the season or do the injuries up front prevent them from using it.

Mike Sando
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks. Injuries have tied the staff's hands in recent games. I do not know whether they'll feel as comfortable using it extensively in the second half of the season.

Mike Sando
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. My pleasure as always.