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March 29, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Sando

Mike Sando
  (1:01 PM)

Greetings. Thanks for dropping by. About to get rolling.

Mike (Eugene, OR)

Now that the Seahawks have picked up Matt Flynn the question becomes: Do they have enough weapons for him? Is there any chance that the seahawks reach for a wideout at the 12 pick? Justin Blackmon is going to be long gone but Michael Floyd may still be around. Would he be too much of a reach for the Seahawks? Do the Seahawks even feel that they need more wideouts? I have trouble seeing a group made up of a first round bust trying to redeem himself, an injury prone FA, an underachieving Golden Tate, and a UFA in baldwin living up to the promise of Flynn. Since they didn't make any move in FA for a wideout is there someone the Seahawks can grab in the draft who can come right in and help?

Mike Sando
  (1:03 PM)

Brock Huard, Mike Salk and I just finished discussing this on 710ESPN Seattle. My feeling is the team would ideally get pass-rush help in the first round. Do they know whether Flynn is good enough to maximize the weapons already on the team? If they do, perhaps they need to make a more concerted effort to upgrade the weaponry right now. Otherwise, why not continue building the team and then reassess what else is needed? They could always make a strike for a playmaker next offseason. In the meantime, maybe Sidney Rice reemerges as that guy.

FistFulloRings (SoCal)

With Baalke and JH having already traded up once to get a guy they thought would fit well in their system, is it reasonable to see them trading up to get a player that fills an even bigger need? Say a DeCastro type...

Mike Sando
  (1:05 PM)

Yes, the 49ers traded up for Colin Kaepernick last year. Remember, too, that Trent Baalke traded up a couple spots the year before, just to land Anthony Davis. So there is some precedent.

Zach (Tempe, AZ)

As a fan, I will be upset if the Cardinals reach for Jonathan Martin at 13. It's similar to what happened with Levi Brown. Do you think they have a chance at trading down in the draft and possibly getting their second round pick back? Who do you think would have to still be available at 13 for this to happen?

Mike Sando
  (1:07 PM)

Yeah, they will want to recoup a second-rounder somehow, so that is something to keep in mind. A team should be able to get line help later than the 12th choice. I think they could use an outside linebacker if one is there. And then a secondary receiver could be a logical consideration.

Zach (Tempe, AZ)

Everyone keeps predicting that the Cardinals will fall flat in 2012 because they weren't "successful" or "aggressive" in free agency. The biggest complaint I hear is that the team is "too similar" to last year. Didn't this team go 7-2 down the stretch? Why aren't the Cardinals being considered a serious threat in the division? At least consider them for the wild card. Am I out of bounds because of hometown bias?

Mike Sando
  (1:09 PM)

Negative perceptions about quarterback come into play. I agree with you about not needing to be active in free agency. The Cardinals were quite active last offseason and it did not translate immediately. But they probably would have been worse without some of those signings (Richard Marshall, Daryn Colledge, even Jeff King). Overall, I think perceived QB issues make it tougher to back the Cardinals.

Patrick (Los Angeles)

Obviously, there's a long way to go in negotiations between the Rams and the STL CVC, but there's little doubt Kroenke's bid for the Dodgers was prompted by a desire to own two professional sports teams in the nation's second biggest market. Now that he's been unsuccessful in his bid, are the odds of the Rams staying in STL appreciably better?

Mike Sando
  (1:11 PM)

I still think it comes down to getting a new stadium, not just a refurbished one. The chances for the Rams staying did not get worse. Did they get better? Not sure they got appreciably better. The stadium issue remains a bit dicey.

Jacob (Saint)

I would love to see the Rams get a wideout, however I doubt that Justin Blackmon will be available at 6. Could you see the Rams moving up into the late first round and picking up Stephen Hill? Love his size and speed, and would be the perfect down field player the Rams haven't had in the past few years.

Mike Sando
  (1:13 PM)

Yes, I could absolutely see that happening. I do not know if the Rams like Hill specifically, but that general thinking makes sense. The Rams have the 33rd and 39th overall choices. That gives them good flexibility for moving into the late first round to take a receiver, if they like one enough. This seems somewhat likely. Very plausible, especially since analysts think some promising receivers will be available later in the round.

Jacob (Saint)

Why haven't the Rams signed Kellen Clemens. He came in last year and did a good job for such a short amount time with the team. He also would be a great number 2 behind Bradford.

Mike Sando
  (1:15 PM)

Good question. I thought Clemens' connection to Brian Schottenheimer would make him a likely player for the team to re-sign. Honestly, I have not investigated that one, but sometimes familiarity works the other way, too.

Shawn (Blackfoot, ID)

I read a report a while ago about the Seahawks (slightly?) changing their uniforms this year. I was wondering if you know whether there is any truth to that.

Mike Sando
  (1:16 PM)

Yes, the NFL's uniform agreement with Nike will lead to changes. The Seahawks will be going to more of a "combat" style uniform in line with what the University of Oregon wears, in terms of fit. April 3 is when we can expect to see those uniforms.

Mike (Eugene, OR)

If the Seahawks are comfortable with their pass rush developing in the third year is it possible they go for a corner to help out on the back end? I was generally pleased with the positions performance last year but it never hurts to get a real shut down guy to help out your passrush by giving them more time. Would Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins, or Stephon gilmore make sense to take at 12 in order to address the pass rush without grabbing an actual pass rusher who might be a reach at this spot?

Mike Sando
  (1:18 PM)

I don't see cornerback as a primary need for the Seahawks after Brandon Browner went to the Pro Bowl and Richard Sherman was arguably better than Browner late in the season. But with Walter Thurmond's injury situation always a concern and with Marcus Trufant out of the picture, the team could draft one. I just do not think the team will go into the draft targeting one early. If it happens, it'll be a value thing.

Scott (Iowa)

Why did the Seahawks let Anthony Hargrove go? Or did they try to keep him?

Mike Sando
  (1:20 PM)

They re-signed Red Bryant and added Jason Jones from Tennessee in free agency. I don't think re-signing Hargrove was as big a priority.

Jacob (Saint)

Did you feel the punishments for the Bounty Scandal were justified?

Mike Sando
  (1:22 PM)

I thought they were over the top, but I also understand the motivation. I'd say the punishment defined the seriousness of the situation more than the charges did. But the NFL felt this was an opportunity to demonstrate its concern for player safety. That is an issue the league thinks it must win, and rightfully so.

Chex Norris (San Diego)

Evn Urban Meyer always said that Alex Smith would be good once he had a good understanding of the offense. Can't tell you how scared I was that Roman would be leaving, now that he'll a full year of consistency with an OC, is this the year the 49ers have a 4,000 yard passer?

Mike Sando
  (1:23 PM)

Alex Smith had Jimmy Raye for back-to-back offseasons. Raye was running the offense through Mike Singletary's vision, so the comparison breaks down. I think Alex Smith would be more likely to get into that 3,500-yard range. He was at 3,144 yards last season.

Superman_1134 (Georgia)

Seattle has been rabidly building the O line in the last couple of years. Are we there yet or do we need to draft more help?

Mike Sando
  (1:25 PM)

Yeah, they've put a lot into the line, but I'm not convince they'll get the desired results. James Carpenter is looking more like a guard, and he's coming off a horrific injury. John Moffitt is coming off injury. Russell Okung is coming off injury and has been injury prone to this point in his career. It's almost like they could stand to use another relatively early choice for the line. On the positive side from Seattle's standpoint, it looks like Tom Cable can coach up a line.

Superman_1134 (Georgia)

All four teams have varying definitions of a successful off season. Taking into account FA signings, Where do the teams stand in terms of having accomplished what they wanted to in the offseason up to this point, and what will they need from the draft to make it a success?

Mike Sando
  (1:30 PM)

Sounds like the subject for an expanded blog entry. Let's set aside the Peyton Manning diversion. Three NFC West teams were interested. All three failed. I'd say the 49ers had the most modest goals, and they generally accomplished what they set out to do (re-signing Carlos Rogers and most of their key players, including all defensive starters). Adding a play-maker in the draft would help them. The Seahawks accomplished their goal of landing a quarterback without overpaying, and they also re-signed the players they wanted to re-sign. They could use pass-rush help in the draft to finish off a successful offseason. The Rams needed to get max value for the second overall choice. Mission accomplished. They failed to get play-making help, so they must address that in the draft. The Cardinals still need help at tackle. I don't think they've gained or lost a whole lot.

Marcus (Boston)

What's the latest with the Seahawks' linebacker situation? They only have one starting (returning) LB currently, and don't seem adamant about resigning Hawthorne or Hill. Do you see them going after Kuechly early in the draft, or snagging another LB later on in the draft? Or, somehow resigning either Hill/Hawthorne?

Mike Sando
  (1:34 PM)

A combination of those options. Re-signing Hawthorne and Hill should not be all that tough. How many teams are lining up to sign those players? Are there any? I think the Seahawks have shown an ability to draft starting-caliber defensive players in multiple rounds. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright were all later choices. All are good starters. The doesn't necessarily need to draft a linebacker in the first round, but sometimes when I go through the various mock scenarios, it works out that way.

WhizenBlunt (Tempe)

If the Cards have another mediocre season, will they look to change their coaching?

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

Ken Whisenhunt's deal runs through the 2013 season, with a team option for another year after that. I think a poor record combined with a messy quarterback situation could be enough to raise the possibility for change after the 2012 season. The organization invested a lot in Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt seemed to be a driving force behind that decision. If that decision bombs, the team loses and John Skelton isn't the answer, either, that would be a tough situation for Whisenhunt and one that could threaten him.

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

Ken Whisenhunt's deal runs through the 2013 season, with a team option for another year after that. I think a poor record combined with a messy quarterback situation could be enough to raise the possibility for change after the 2012 season. The organization invested a lot in Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt seemed to be a driving force behind that decision. If that decision bombs, the team loses and John Skelton isn't the answer, either, that would be a tough situation for Whisenhunt and one that could threaten him.

John (Seattle)

How much time does Pete Carroll have to start winning before his seat starts getting hot?

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

I would think he has this season and next season.

mbrimer (indianapolis)

Are the St.Louis Rams consideing trading Sam Bradford?

Mike Sando
  (1:38 PM)

No.

Northwest Guy (Gig Harbor, WA)

Sando, in my eyes the NFCW is going to be a tighter race this season. The Hawks have upgraded, the Cards finished last season on a roll and the Rams have began to rebuild under a proven HC. What do you see as the biggest hurdles each team faces with breaking through this season?

Mike Sando
  (1:40 PM)

QB and offensive line are the biggest hurdles in Arizona. Protecting Sam Bradford and finding playmakers for him are the hurdles for the Rams. Developing Matt Flynn is pivotal for the Seahawks. Alex Smith taking another step forward is key for the 49ers. I mentioned quarterbacks in every instance. That was not by accident.

Ramm428 (StL)

You mentioned earlier that you could see the Rams trading up, would it not make more sense to trade down if Blackmon is gone? I mean we have so many needs, why trade up and lose picks?

Mike Sando
  (1:42 PM)

That could make sense as well. They could do both of those things, actually. Flexibility is a strength for the Rams. What if they moved back from the sixth pick and then traded one of their second-rounders for a 2013 first-rounder? Lots of options.

Rob (Pittsburgh)

Another Steelers reject heading to the Cards, whats the deal with that?

Mike Sando
  (1:45 PM)

Connections. Remember when the Cardinals signed Bryant McFadden? Once they parted with him, the Steelers re-signed him. Both teams' staffs were familiar with McFadden. That is the case here. The Cardinals lost Richard Marshall in free agency. They needed a cornerback to replace him and they knew lots about William Gay, simply because Ray Horton coached him in Pittsburgh.

Anthem (SF Bay Area)

How strong is Alex's hold on the starting job? What are the odds of Kaepernick being the starter for 49ers before end of season?

Mike Sando
  (1:47 PM)

The contract Smith signed tells us how secure Smith is as the starter. The deal allows the 49ers to move on after one, two or three seasons. Smith is year to year with the team, and there is an expectation that Colin Kaepernick will take over in the next couple years. How quickly that happens depends in part on whether the team keeps winning with Smith. Injuries could facilitate the transition. Smith started every game last season. He appeared sturdier than in the past. Still, injuries routinely sideline quarterbacks. Smith will probably miss a couple games at some point, and that could give Kaepernick his chance.

Doug (Washington)

Based of the 49ers success last year everyone seems to think they are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the division. I think the lockout hurt the rest of the division and injuries prevented STL from competing much of the season. Is there really that big of a gap between the 49ers and everyone else?

Mike Sando
  (1:49 PM)

It's not a huge gap. The 49ers' division rivals closed the gap late in the season. Going 13-3 was sensational, but that is a very high standard to reach. The 49ers are likely to come back to the pack some. Let's say they go 10-6 this coming season. Suddenly it's a lot easier for another team to factor within the division.

Chex Norris (San Diego)

Navarro Bowman or Aldon Smith... who gets signed to a long term contract first for the 49ers?

Mike Sando
  (1:51 PM)

Bowman is further along in his deal and was a much lower draft choice, so that is where I would look first.

Tom (Seattle, WA)

Even with Peyton Manning staying in the AFC, do you believe the NFC is a tougher conference to play in now?

Mike Sando
  (1:52 PM)

Yes, and I think that helped make the AFC more attractive for Peyton Manning.

Josh (Livermore,CA)

How many more good seasons do you see left in an aging Frank Gore? Can Kendall Hunter eventually be an every down player?

Mike Sando
  (1:53 PM)

Maybe one more good season. Possibly two. He's reaching that point where running backs have a hard time producing consistently.

J (MA)

It always has been a curosity of mine. Do certain coaches have preference for players from select schools or conferences? It seems some team just bypass kids from certain schools. Does this thought have any merit?

Mike Sando
  (1:56 PM)

Coaches and personnel people tend to like certain types of players, and sometimes those players come from certain programs or conferences more frequently. That is how I would see it. I've analyzed that information and found some teams acquiring players from certain conferences disproportionately, and avoiding other conferences. Right now, Seattle has 16 players from the Pac-12, twice the NFL average. Chicago has four. Did the Seahawks go out and say they wanted Pac-12 guys? No. But they have a lot of them.

Drew (San Francisco)

Behind San Francisco, which team do you feel has the best defense?

Mike Sando
  (1:58 PM)

In the NFC West, I would go 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams.

4949Centennial (San Jose)

Its good to be in a position where you are not drafting based on a desperate need. Niners can pick the best available prospect in each round since their starters are all set.

Mike Sando
  (1:59 PM)

Yes, I think the Seahawks are generally in a similar position given that they took care of the quarterbacks situation. Rams need a front-line wide receiver. Cardinals need offensive tackle help. Teams still have a month to set the table for the draft. Arizona could still do that by signing Demetrius Bell or another tackle.

Mike Sando
  (1:59 PM)

Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. See you on the blog.