Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

August 16, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Sando

Mike Sando
  (1:02 PM)

Good morning/afternoon/evening. I've just finished the 49ers Camp Confidential item (scheduled for the blog in a bit), so let's chat. By the way, I did click the "turn on auto-update" button. Here we go.

King Erock (Santa Clara)

OK so what do the 49ers see in CK7? As many know on this blog that I am not a fan of CK.... Coaches still seem to be high on him and I just don't see it. Horrible throwing motion which I think DBs will eat up and just pick off... Your thoughts? Do you see Tolz getting ahead of him?

Mike Sando
  (1:05 PM)

Colin Kaepernick is going to be the No. 2 quarterback for the 49ers this season unless he unravels over the next few weeks. He has tightened his grip on that job, according to Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers would change fundamentally if Kaepernick had to replace Smith, and I think the team would have a hard time winning the division. But just about every team could say the same thing if it lost its starting QB. It's still early for Kaepernick. He has a good offensive staff, I think, and that helps.

scott (Rochester) [via mobile]

What's the over/under on how many times per game Alex Smith hits Boone in the back of the head with a pass?

Mike Sando
  (1:06 PM)

Yeah, I'd say 2-3 times per series, probably. Kidding. Alex Boone would probably laugh at that comment from you. He's a hilarious guy, and working hard to stay low.

john (St Louis)

Hey Mike, I keep hearing good things out of St. Louis about Steve Smith. Do you think he could return to his former glory and catch 80 balls for 1,000 yards and 7 TDs?

Mike Sando
  (1:08 PM)

The Rams tossed nine touchdown passes all last season, so I'm not really expecting anyone to catch seven by himself until we see real evidence of offensive improvement. When I went to Rams camp a couple weeks ago, Sam Bradford was cautiously optimistic about Smith, but it was too early for him to know one way or another. It's good for the Rams that Smith seems to be holding up physically this far into camp. I'd say there's a pretty good chance Smith factors this year, but probably not on the level you indicated. Danny Amendola is going to catch quite a few passes from the slot.

Mike (Spokane)

Mike, do you think it's feasible that Flynn starts the season, but Wilson overtakes him at some point throughout the year?

Mike Sando
  (1:10 PM)

Yeah, that's a scenario I've thought about quite a bit. Give Matt Flynn a chance now, see how he fares, then reassess based on how well Flynn is playing. I do get the feeling it's a matter of time before Wilson plays regular-season games for this team. But I also think there's a decent chance Flynn plays well enough to hold the job this season.

Joker (SD)

Mike what foreseeable value do you give to a TJax trade?

Mike Sando
  (1:11 PM)

Not much. He has some value as a backup familiar with a West Coast system, but with a $4 million salary, no one is likely to acquire him on an "as is" basis. I wouldn't give up more than a conditional pick for him because Seattle seems likely to release him in the absence of a trade.

Bigredbird90 (Portland)

Sando, 1. What is your gut feeling on the Cards QB situation? Your prediction, and why? 2. Do you think the Cards D will turn around by the start of the regular season?

Mike Sando
  (1:14 PM)

My gut feeling is that Ken Whisenhunt will name John Skelton the starter because he thinks the team will respond better to Skelton. He made a similar call a couple years ago at the expense of Matt Leinart. This one feels similar. I will grant, however, that it's early enough for Kolb to make a case for himself. Just haven't seen any evidence of that happening to this point. And I don't think Whisenhunt can look the team in the eye, so to speak, while propping up a QB for the wrong reasons.

Dumaguete Mike (Overseas)

How big do you think this week's preseason game is in terms of the Cardinal's QB situation. Aren't we getting to the point where a decision needs to be made and the named starter getting the majority of work as we get closer to the season?

Mike Sando
  (1:15 PM)

The team has an extra preseason game. I'd say making a decision no later than after the Cardinals' fourth preseason game would be best, but if there's any chance of Kolb winning it, the team should probably wait.

Peter (Bellingham)

Hey Mike, I absolutely love the Seahawks' defense, but one spot I don't think they have addressed is backup safety. There are some veteran free agents out there and I'm not sold on Chris Maragos

Mike Sando
  (1:18 PM)

Yeah, I've had the same thoughts. Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy are two young players to consider beyond Maragos. The Seahawks like those guys. I thought Atari Bigby was a good fit last season, but the Seahawks' ability to identify/coach young talent on defense leads me to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Steve (San Antonio)

Wouldn't SEA ask TJack to take a cut before they trade him so that he goes to a team that is willing to put some skin in the game as a commitment to TJack?

Mike Sando
  (1:19 PM)

Makes sense, but if you're Jackson, why would you do anything to limit your options? Force the Seahawks to release you, then wait for the best opportunity to come around, possibly after another QB gets injured.

David (Maryland)

What are realistic expectations for Brian Quick?

Mike Sando
  (1:20 PM)

I'd think 25-35 catches would be reasonable.

EDTGO (Catalina Whine Mixer)

Sando, what do you think about Bruce Irvine debut? We all know he speed is not a problem. But once he was met by the T, it looked like he ran into a brick wall. Have you seen an improvement so far?

Mike Sando
  (1:20 PM)

I noticed the same thing you noticed. But the Seahawks did not even use him in their nickel all the time. I think they're holding back.

19thHandle (KinkCo)

Sando, why do you think the media didn't mention Leon Washington's stellar 1st Q? He looked like he bulked up a bit as well. TIA

Mike Sando
  (1:22 PM)

The QBs stole the show.

Yvan (Brussels)

Did you hear that Sam Bradford will be having surgery after the season? It's a issue for the Rams?

Mike Sando
  (1:25 PM)

I saw a report saying Bradford may or may not need surgery after the 2012 season based on how the ankle holds up in the interim, given that there's still some soreness. I'd say it's a concern, but not a huge one right now.

Brandon J (Utah)

Sando, great job on the podcast. Speaking of Moss, how long do you think it is before he starts getting frustrated with Alex Smith missing him, or do you think the good vibes will last through the season due to Smith's improvement?

Mike Sando
  (1:27 PM)

Thanks. The Inside Slant podcast was fun. Anyone interested in checking it out can go to the ESPN Podcenter and find it there. How's that for a plug? I'd say the glass is half full on Moss based on the vibe I'm getting right now. I say he's fine as long as the team is winning.

Patrick (Tacoma, WA)

Wouldn't Tarvaris Jackson be somewhat valuable to the other teams in the NFC West considering his insider knowledge and the fact that most teams don't have very good QBs in this division?

Mike Sando
  (1:28 PM)

The insider knowledge thing might not be valuable enough, especially over the long term, to justify changing course at the most important position.

777 (King City, CA)

How come the time for the chat is always listed as 1 p.m. ET. Since this is a West Coast blog, shouldn't it be listed as 10 a.m. Pacific?

Mike Sando
  (1:30 PM)

I hear you on that one, but I also understand ESPN's thinking. ESPN is based in Bristol, which is on Eastern time, and rather than make a confusing situation more confusing by going with staggered time stamps based on writer location, why not just go for consistency. There is no perfect solution to it, but I've come to terms with listing Eastern time.

Brandon J (Utah)

How much of Crabtree's improvement in camp is due to being healthy and how much is due to the receivers around him? (Moss and Manningham specifically)

Mike Sando
  (1:31 PM)

I'd say health is the No. 1 factor, but increased competition at a position affects things.

Jacob (Missouri)

I'm starting to get worried about the Rams' offensive line. They have two spots that are still up for grabs (left guard and right tackle), and their starting center hasn't worked with the first team all offseason. Is this legitimate?

Mike Sando
  (1:33 PM)

I haven't finished worrying about the Rams' line from last season. Seriously, though, the line was a concern coming into camp. We knew right tackle was a concern. We knew left guard was a concern. We did not know Scott Wells would be out this long. That is a little concerning. The one guy they can count on is Harvey Dahl, and he's a right guard. Not many teams build around right guards.

19thHandle (KingCo)

Up to this point, do you see the Rams or Cards finishing last place in the NFCW?

Mike Sando
  (1:36 PM)

Still the Rams, but I've reconsidered on the Cardinals based on what is looking, so far, like a worst-case scenario situation at quarterback. Issues at running back, on the offensive line and on defense add to the foreboding feeling. I still think the Rams could be further away in some areas, but it feels like the gap could close quickly.

Mike Sando
  (1:38 PM)

Looks like we have a <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/71690/camp-confidential-49ers-2" target="_blank">49ers Camp Confidential</a> posted.

Yvan (Brussels)

Why there is almost no information about the injury of Scott Wells ?

Mike Sando
  (1:40 PM)

It's been assumed he's fine and will return in plenty of time for the season. I'm with you, though. More info would be good. They do expect him back in the next week to 10 days.

Jr (turlock) [via mobile]

Take your pick, a healthy Frank Gore or healthy Marshawn Lynch.

Mike Sando
  (1:41 PM)

Over the past five years, Gore by a wide margin. Based on last season only, Lynch. I really loved how Lynch ran last season. He's younger than Gore at this point, so I would favor him right now. So much respect for Gore, though. Tough, powerful runner with great instincts.

Matt (Lady Lake, FL)

Any predictions for NFCW players who will be first time Pro Bowlers this year (non-alternates that is)?

Mike Sando
  (1:44 PM)

Yeah, let's go with Mike Iupati of the 49ers, Russell Okung of the Seahawks, Chris Long of the Rams and Calais Campbell of the Cardinals. Of those, Okung and Iupati might have the paths of least resistance. Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson (as a corner) are two others, for sure. Guys like Daryl Washington and James Laurinaitis will have a hard time getting attention as inside linebackers with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman around.

Mike Sando
  (1:44 PM)

Yeah, let's go with Mike Iupati of the 49ers, Russell Okung of the Seahawks, Chris Long of the Rams and Calais Campbell of the Cardinals. Of those, Okung and Iupati might have the paths of least resistance. Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson (as a corner) are two others, for sure. Guys like Daryl Washington and James Laurinaitis will have a hard time getting attention as inside linebackers with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman around.

Chex Norris (San Diego)

Any chance the Rams take a risk on Chad Johnson?

Mike Sando
  (1:44 PM)

I'd say no chance.

Nick (Sacramento)

Smith had 17 TDs and 5 picks this past year. Those aren't stellar numbers, but I think the main thing was that Braylon Edwards didn't work out last year then got injured, also Josh Morgan broke his leg. So they were using Ginn as the #2 WR. Is it crazy to think Alex Smith will have a much better year this season with a deeper and overall better receiving core?(In response to Matt from Florida, I'm hoping Mike Iupati finally gets recognized.)

Mike Sando
  (1:46 PM)

Totally reasonable to expect more from Alex Smith and that offense this season. Better personnel, greater familiarity with the system, coaches know the players better, etc.

Brandon J (Utah)

Mike- Having been to 9ers camp, what's your opinion on Eric Bakhtiari? Does he have what it takes to make the defensive rotation?

Mike Sando
  (1:48 PM)

He really stood out. Seems like he's making it tough for the team to cut him. Watch to see if his sustains it through the preseason, though.

Jacquelene (Enumclaw)

Mr. Sando, do you think Lockette will get placed back on the practice squad since he appeared in less than six games last year, or do you think he'll get cut outright? Seems like T.O. and Edwards are making a bigger impact and Pete wants to win NOW.

Mike Sando
  (1:51 PM)

I thought Carroll wanted to win forever. I guess that includes now, though, so you're right. I see Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens fighting for one roster spot, most likely. Lockette needs to show something, it seems. Practice squad would be a good place for him. By the way, the CBA says this on eligibility: "The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad: (i) players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience; and (ii) free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s). An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment."

Matt (Houston)

Mike, is the QB to take the Cardinals to the playoffs and beyond on their roster right now?

Mike Sando
  (1:53 PM)

I'd say so.

JD (CT)

Hey Mike, I have a decision to make on Marshawn Lynch this week.. has any new information come out about a possible punishment from the league for Lynch?

Mike Sando
  (1:54 PM)

No new info. You should play up suspension talk and try to draft him a little later than you otherwise would. I think he'll be there for most or all of the season. Leaning toward all.

Bobby (Port Orchard)

"Smith had 17 TDs and 5 picks this past year. Those aren't stellar numbers... Is it crazy to think Alex Smith will have a much better year this season with a deeper and overall better receiving core?"Yes, in fact, it is pretty crazy to think that his TD/INT ratio will improve. His TDs will probably go up, but expect his INTs to go up significantly as well.

Mike Sando
  (1:54 PM)

Yes, I missed the ratio part. The ratio will not improve, most likely. But the production should improve.

Ryan (Oakland)

How did Chris Owuso look in 9ers camp? Does he have a chance to make the 53 already knowing the system and being extremely athletic?

Mike Sando
  (1:55 PM)

Thought he looked really good physically but don't see a roster spot for him.

Cardsbeliever (SLC Utah)

What are the Cardinals issues on defense stemming from? Lack of commitment, desire to avoid injury, just rust, or did we as fans get too excited about the end of last season?

Mike Sando
  (1:58 PM)

Let's not overstate the problems. They've played two meaningless games and haven't been happy with the defense yet. It's early. I do think that defense should have better leadership given the high number of veterans. And I'm a little wary of Ray Horton's brashness and outspokenness if those things indicate anything less than a steady hand at the controls (not sure they do, but it's a thought).

Mort (Scottsdale)

Do you think a better ground game for the Cards will help out their QB situation? Oh wait, that means their O-line needs to be play good. Any chance of that happening?

Mike Sando
  (2:00 PM)

The running backs need to be healthy, too.

Mike Sando
  (2:01 PM)

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