Greetings. About to get rolling here.
Mike, I'm going to the Packers Cardinals game Sunday! Do the Cards take advantage of Green Bay's injury riddled pass defense or am I in for a lower scoring game? Seems like it will be strength vs strength (GB O vs Zona D) and weakness vs. weakness (GB Pass D vs Zona O)
Enjoy the trip, Brett. Lambeau Field is such a great place to watch an NFL game. It'll be a little chilly there. The projected high is 43 degrees Sunday. I think this will be a tough game for the Cardinals because Aaron Rodgers is playing so well, and Arizona lacks a big run threat.
Do you expect Alex Smith to continue progressing or do you think he will continue to display the inconsistency against better defenses?
Alex Smith has progressed quite a bit already. I don't think he's going to get a ton better.
Seattle isn't going to be able to make the playoffs without going 6-2 in the 2nd half. They probably will be underdogs in at least 3 of the remaining games (SF, @CHI, @MIA). I just don't see it happening. Seems like we are still a year away. Agreed?
I think 2013 has been the target year all along. Otherwise they would have moved more aggressively on the QB front before this year. I would agree that 9-7 is a likely record, and that 10-6 could be required for the playoffs. Just getting to 9-7 is progress after going 7-9 twice.
Sando, Auto-update says it's off on my screen.
It says it's on and it seems to be working for me.
Why does it seem like Alex Smith has such a hard time with the play clock? This is a trend that I've noticed ever since he's been a starter through 3 different head coaches, so I don't think it's coaches getting him the play too late. I'd be interested to see stats on how many delay of game penalties he gets, and how many timeouts are wasted on play clock issues.
The Jimmy Raye system was a digit system featuring more terminology for each play. That system required more time for relaying the call and more time for making it in the huddle. You will typically see digit-based offenses suffering from delay penalties more frequently. That is why Philip Rivers and the Chargers have had so many of them. The 49ers do lead the NFL in delay penalties since the 2009 season.
Mike where were you when Harb said "Gobble Gobble Jive Turkey"?
I was seated maybe four feet away from him.
Sando- Nice work, great blog.Would you consider yourself more of a "gobble-gobble turkey" or a "jive-turkey-gobbler"? What is the distinguishing mark, in your opinion, between the two? And, have the Seahawks plateaued on D?
Funny stuff on the first part. On the second part, the Seattle defense has not plateaued, in my opinion. We just have to be honest about what we are seeing. One, Seattle is not as good in nickel as in base. Those are two different defenses. We need to distinguish between them. Two, Seattle just faced Matthew Stafford on the road. That is different from facing John Skelton or the 2012 Cam Newton on the road, for example. We should expect better results from the defense against Minnesota and the New York Jets over the next two weeks. If the defense looks bad against those teams, then we'll revisit.
Why can't Jimmy H get through to Alex Smith about getting rid of the ball and not taking so many unnecessary sacks?
No idea. It just can't be that important to them. Either that, or Alex Smith panics in the face of pressure. That is possible too.
At the midway point in the season, what do you see as the major area of need for each team if they want a successful second half?
The Rams need their defensive front to reestablish itself. That starts with Chris Long. We can explain the issues on offense based on injuries and personnel. The defensive line needs to be better, starting against San Francisco. The Seahawks need to improve their third-down defense by getting more from Bruce Irvin and more from the injured Jason Jones. The 49ers need to continue reducing sacks taken. That is on the quarterback. The line is doing quite well. The Cardinals need better health and I think that starts in the offensive backfield, specifically at QB and RB.
Mike should SEA be concerned with O line play against a seasoned rusher like Jared Allen?
Concerned, sure. Worried, no. Allen hasn't been as dominant lately. Russell Okung is rounding into form. He seems to need a while to get going each season. He played a good game against the Lions' Kyle Vanden Bosch. Okung is in a good situation because his team runs the ball well, commits to the run and has a quarterback with a good feel for pressure.
Is Lauranitis on the same level as Washington and Bowman or is he slightly below? It's probably more a question of which system you want to play but how about just based on overall talent?
Daryl Washington is a different type of linebacker. He is 230 pounds and can really fly. He will not take on blocks as well as NaVorro Bowman can take them on. I would say Washington and Bowman are on a higher level than James Laurinaitis, but we could see Laurinaitis grow in that system.
Mike what was your initial prediction for the Niners season record and has that changed now at the halfway point?
I think I had them in the 10-11 range for victories and I would think they have a good shot at getting to 12 this season. I thought they might not be as healthy. Also thought they might suffer a little more from getting fewer turnovers. But there was one area where I thought they could take another step, and that was on offense. They have done that.
Has Justin Smith lost a step. Or is he just being so focused on by the other team game planning that he is having harder time.
Smith seems a little less productive. I asked a scout about this a few weeks ago and he said there was maybe just a slight drop but nothing significant, and it could just be perception. He thought Smith was still playing really well. Opponents are probably better prepared for how Justin Smith and Aldon Smith play off one another.
Sando,I feel like you're shortchanging the Seahawks chances, I'm hearing a lot of Analysts (Mike and Mike, John Clayton) saying that the Seahawks have the best chance to take the second Wild Card spot. Is it something you see that's making you nervous about the second half?
I think the Seahawks do have a good shot at being a wild-card team in the NFC. What I said was that they're on course for a 9-7 record most likely, and that being 10-6 would obviously improve their chances for the playoffs.
Mike - in you response to Josiah's question earlier you stated that Alex has progressed quite a bit already, and you don't see him improving a ton more. Let's say your assessment is accurate and the defense, special teams and coaching stay on current trajectory, will Alex's play be enough to make a run at and win the SB?
Yeah, I think this team can win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith at quarterback.
The Niners keep activating TE Celek on game day. He is used only for blocking. Why dont they instead activate either Jacobs who is a vet that can carry the ball when needed, James, or jenkins so that these rookies get their feet wet, instead of Celek? They activate Dobbs each game and he plays defense, special teams, and practiced at TE this offseason. They can use him to block
The answer usually lies in special teams, but Celek played only one special-teams snap against Arizona. I suppose they feel better about their ability to function offensively with added insurance at tight end relative to running back.
Bradford has had some of his best games of his career earlier in the year, but it still doesn't seem like he's really taken control of the offense, much less taken over a game the way you want a franchise QB to do. How close do you think he is to reaching that level? Is it something we should expect to see this season?
It's like we never get to see him operating under ideal circumstances. He is either without Danny Amendola or without key linemen or without both, or without a fully healthy Steven Jackson. There are all these built-in limitations, which lend themselves to excuse making. I've tried not to make excuses for Bradford. Maybe what we're learning is that he's not going to be special, but that he can be a very good QB with a better team around him.
Is Pete Carroll's job on the line this season? He won the division once but overall record below .500.
I would say there is a 93 percent or 91 percent chance he stays. That would mean maybe a 7-9 percent chance he's out. Hopefully you get the joke. We've used it enough around here after Seattle went 7-9 twice under Carroll. I think Carroll's job is safe and that it would take a total collapse for the team to go in another direction. Next season will be the pivotal year for Carroll.
Time for the 49ers to bring Brandon Jacobs in to spell Frank Gore some more. I feel like we can't afford to lose Gore or Hunter if we want to make a strong playoff push.
Maybe the 49ers use the bye week to get some of those backup guys ready. Jacobs, maybe one or two of the rookies. On the other hand, players are off til Tuesday of next week. Not gonna get much done this week.
Hi Mike,Should the Seahawks lack of success running the ball straight ahead vs. the quality front four of Detroit be worrisome in the long term? Do you feel that Gus Bradley was outcoached in the second half or was it just Stafford making great reads and checking down to the TE's and Rb's? Thanks!
It was interesting to me that the Seahawks set up the run with the pass. This was a much more pass-heavy game plan. I think they sprung the 77-yard run for a touchdown in part because they had thrown the ball pretty well to that point. I wouldn't be too worried about it. On the coaching front, I would tend to credit Stafford more than I would dock the coaches. However, it does seem like Seattle played too much zone. That is easy for me to say. But it was my impression.
I asked this question on the board yesterday. Why is there so much scrutiny concerning Alex Smith? Why are there so many debates about whether or not the 49ers can win the Superbowl with him, or whether or not he's elite? Why can't he just be the QB of a 1st place team?
Because of the years 2005 through 2010. That is why.
Is Russel Wilson in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year?
Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are among those who will have something to say about that. I would think Griffin is in best position.
Following up on Roland's question - at what point do the Rams question whether Bradford is the right guy? As a #1 overall pick there are many expectations both on and off the field. I cannot speak for off the field as I am nowhere near St. Louis, but honestly I do not see him functioning as a #1 overall pick. How do you make the determination that he is better than ok but we can do much better? Thanks
You make that determination when you can actually do much better. Bradford will probably be the best option available for years to come.
Any chance we could extend the chat by 7-9 minutes to touch on more Seahawks topics?
I would lay 9-7 or 10-6 odds on that happening.
I'm very curious in the MVP Rankings Process.... The analysis of players in your MVP list seem to justify & reflect best potential candidates as of to date; however the actual ranking order that is listed seem to reflect the most likely players (QBs) to win it based on history/trends. Is this an accurate view on how the process goes? How much weight goes into an individual's performance vs. the weight of that player's own team's success?
Yeah, that is a good observation. Team success provides a cutoff at a certain point. You're not going to have an MVP candidate from a losing team, most likely. We might agree that J.J. Watt is having the best season, but we also know QBs are more likely to win the award.
What are your thoughts on Kaep and his recent exclusion from the game plan?
The 49ers needed to get back to basics offensively and they have done that. Maybe they sprinkle in some Kaepernick but there's no need to go overboard. Jim Harbaugh said Oct. 14 that he was concerned about disrupting the flow of the offense.
The Sophomore Slump Theory states that in an NFL quarterback's second year they think they have everything figured out and try to carry too much of the weight of an offense and end up regressing. Do you see this happening to Russell Wilson next year?
Not so much. I think he puts more into preparation than the vast majority of players in the NFL puts into preparation.
Sando, I understand you used to be a Raider fan, but have since been reformed. My cousin in a Raider fan, and my entire family is very worried about him. How were you reformed? Counseling? Electro-shock therapy? We're running out of time for my cousin.
Yeah, I was reformed by getting a job covering the NFL, which left no time or energy to follow the game as a fan would follow it. And then I also got married and was domesticated over a period of several years. That domestication process was key. Now I'm able to live in a home among other humans. It's really been an uplifting story.
Sando, I know power rankings are just for fun, but I think most of the folks in the NFCW Blog have something to say about Graziano's picks each and every week, He seems to vote most if not all of his teams in the NFCE higher than anybody else each and every week. They have what? 1 team above .500 in that division right now? Do you guys talk before the rankings come out, do you ever ask Graziano why he's seemingly biased for his NFCE teams?
We talk regularly. Dan doesn't change his rankings as much from week to week. He has an idea in his head how good the teams are, and he tries not to overreact. Then, every so often, he'll make a bigger adjustment when the evidence becomes persuasive.
now that you mentioned you were married. i just got married a few weeks ago? any tips?
My wife would fall over laughing if I started giving out marriage advice. Sorry, man. Just buckle up.
What would aldon smith have to do to win DPOY cause I see so many times. That he is an eyelash away from sacks. Is it just all about sacks or do voters see that Aldon causes all kinds of pressure.
He would probably need more sacks than J.J. Watt winds up getting. Think Watt is the leader in the clubhouse there.
When you are figuring out your power rankings for the week, do you take into consideration that the Seahawks were given a home game by some really bad refs?
Sure, you take into account how the game went, not just the final score. For that game, I take into account the eight first-half sacks, the bogus penalties called against both teams, etc.
Sando, how do you feel about the recent rash of injuries to Seattle WR's? Do you think that their overall lack of talent will hold them back over the remainder of the season?
They're vulnerable at the position because some of the guys they thought might come through -- Kris Durham, Ricardo Lockette -- fell through instead. Sounds like Doug Baldwin will give it a go this week, which would help. As long as Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are healthy, it's not a panic situation. But it is a concern.
Are the 49er wide receivers the real deal or was Monday night an outlier? Cardinals secondary isn't too bad.
The 49ers are improved at wide receiver. The Cardinals had a rough night tackling.
With Randy Moss making a nice play against the Cards do you think the Niners will include him more in the offense and get more snaps?
Not necessarily. I could see them keeping him involved without overusing him. Maybe he gets more time late in the season. They just don't need him to play a lot because they play two tight ends and/or two backs a fair amount.
Sando, did you hear Steve Young's radio show with Mr. T on 680 KNBR last night? He said Alex Smith's performance on MNF was very good because Alex had cleaned up his footwork and that led to the WCO style passes that allowed Crabtree and Moss to get YAC. He said Alex could build on this performance with more great footwork. What do you think?
Sounds like good observations from someone who would know. I'll check it out. Thanks!
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat. See you on the blog.