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March 21, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Mike Sando

Mike Sando
  (1:02 PM)

Greetings. Here we go.

Brian (Portland)

Hey Mike, great coverage of the NFC West! Most Seahawk fans think a nickel corner is our biggest weakness, yet I think we forget how good Walter Thurmond is when healthy. I get drafting for health insurance, but why spend money on a FA like Antoine Winfield or draft high (rd 2-4), when Thurmond should be more than adequate?

Mike Sando
  (1:04 PM)

Thanks, Brian. The Seahawks aren't overly concerned about the situation. They like Jeremy Lane as well, and they have other young guys. Still think they should draft a corner. But last season was a bit of an anomaly. Seems to me they went with Marcus Trufant because he was a veteran and coaches are comfortable with veterans, and in this case Trufant was not necessarily the best choice over Phillip Adams. That usually has not been the Seahawks' style and I think they'll make a smarter decision at that position in 2013.

Ryan, Columbus OH [via mobile]

How close are the Seahawks to resigning Alan Branch? Does the Tony McDaniel visit have any impact on the situation?

Mike Sando
  (1:04 PM)

McDaniel's visit indicates Branch might not be back, unless it's a move the Seahawks are making to get a better price on Branch.

Joe C. (Fort Worth)

Hey Mike,I think the Cards post-FA draft needs are as follows: 1) O-line; 2) QB; 3) Pass-rushing OLB; 4) Safety. I would have put QB at 1 if the current class was stronger. Thoughts?

Mike Sando
  (1:07 PM)

Yeah, your thinking makes sense in the context of what we think we know about this draft. Bruce Arians think they are better than advertised on the offensive line. He thinks Levi Brown can be a good left tackle. He thinks Nate Potter and Bobby Massie have the flexibility to play guard, not just tackle. Now, they could certainly stand to draft for the position. I would put quarterback as the No. 1 need even though Arians is on the record saying the team can win a championship -- yes, a championship -- with Stanton as the quarterback. But I get what you're saying in the context of this draft, which doesn't seem to have the obvious QB prospect.

Jeff Fisher (St. Louis)

How do you really feel about the Rams signing Jake Long?

Mike Sando
  (1:08 PM)

Think it's a positive move, but I'm also waiting to see the contract. That is an important component to the analysis. But with the deal spanning only four years, the Rams presumably came out OK on that front.

David (Maryland)

The Rams are really gambling that their young guys can step up on offense; they let a lot of production leave. Is it going to work?

Mike Sando
  (1:11 PM)

It can only work if the Rams try it. I don't think any of us knows if it will work. I like the thinking and also believe they are in the early stages of this thing. The next two drafts are the ones where they have the best shot at improving their roster. They need to get the young guys they already have on the field this season, and they need to keep adding to the ranks with their additional first-rounders in 2013 and 2014. Right now it feels a little optimistic of the Rams to go this route, but it's an incomplete picture also.

AA (scoreboard watching)

With a slew of draft picks, and with the draft being deep in areas of need, is there anyone worth trading up for that catches the 49ers eyes, or do they invest in the future (like take a stab at RB Lattimore earlier than expected)?

Mike Sando
  (1:13 PM)

I was speaking to a general manager from another team who said the 2013 draft appealed to him most from the second through fifth rounds. Those are the rounds where the 49ers have additional selections. The 49ers need to stay flexible. They do need to consider moving up if it makes sense. But having additional picks gives you a better shot at "hitting" on a couple. They really need to find a couple impact players at low cost.

Joseph (Sacramento)

Do you think the 49ers are in a great situation as they can rebuild by drafting young players to develop while still playing a few seasoned vets for the now? I think SF is set to contend for the SB for years to come. Thoughts?

Mike Sando
  (1:15 PM)

Yes, I like how the 49ers are set up generally. They have the young quarterback. They have invested in the offensive line. I do anticipate a transition period on defense and that is where I'm wondering whether the team will be as good over the next couple years. The draft is going to be key from that standpoint as Justin Smith nears the end.

John (Kentucky)

Are the Niners going to get Nnamdi? Or will he chose New Orleans instead? Do you have any 49ers news.... Thanks

Mike Sando
  (1:17 PM)

I'm a little skeptical about the 49ers going older at cornerback. Really cannot see them giving good money to Nnamdi Asomugha. So, I'm just a little bit skeptical at this time. Need to be convinced.

Scott (San Jose, Ca)

Do you think Antoine Winfield would be a good fit for the 49ers at CB? I actually like him more that Nmadi for the Niners.

Mike Sando
  (1:19 PM)

Yeah, I think Winfield could make a pretty tough nickel corner, actually. The 49ers already have Carlos Rogers. One of our Insider analysts, Field Yates, recently said he though Winfield could really help Seattle at nickel corner. I thought that was intriguing given Seattle's need to address that position.

Alex (St. Louis)

Sometimes you hear about quarterbacks making the players around them better, like their receivers. If ever there was a year for Bradford to step up, lead the team, and make everyone else better, is this it?

Mike Sando
  (1:20 PM)

Yes, I think this is a very important year for Sam Bradford. This should be a revealing year. Most of us are sitting here looking at our watches as if to say it is time for him to produce. Bradford was better last season. He is trending positively. But can he really take the next step? Will the Rams have the right weapons around him?

ejk (Graham, WA)

Mike, there has been some discussion this morning on Ricardo Lockette. Whats your take on him. Will he see the field this year?

Mike Sando
  (1:22 PM)

Yeah, Jim Harbaugh said he's really excited about Lockette. The Seahawks were previously very excited about Lockette. In Seattle, Lockette worked hard, was a good teammate, really shined in practices, flashed in a couple of games and then just really struggled to sustain anything. The pattern could be repeating itself, or perhaps this time will be different.

Andre Galinskas (Brazil)

Hi Mike, What do you think is more important for Rams/Bradford, playmakers or O line? Apparently Fisher/Snead think O line.

Mike Sando
  (1:23 PM)

They like their young skill players more than you might realize.

Russellin' (Kirkland )

Sando, Will Fitz fade away in Az or will he be moved in a year or two for a boatload of picks? Is his contract a potential issue for a possible trade? I just don't see Az contending for at least a few years, and Fitz is in his prime right now. Seems like a win for bothAz and Fitz to move him for a boatload of picks.

Mike Sando
  (1:27 PM)

Do not see a trade. Trading him now would make his contract count $15 million against the cap. Bruce Arians compared Fitzgerald to Reggie Wayne one year ago: great player coming off a frustrating season. He talked about moving Fitz around the way they moved Wayne around, using him from the slot, etc.

Mike Sando
  (1:29 PM)

Arians on Fitz relative to Reggie Wayne: "Both times, when you come off a year where you had quarterback flux, it is tough on a great wide receiver. The problem with great wide receivers is you can't hand them the ball. You gotta get it to them. The thing with Reggie, he had been on the left side for 10 years. To be able to be a flanker and put him in motion, be a slot receiver and develop his skills is something that we'll look to see if that is good for Fitz."

Sean Willis (Seattle, WA)

Mike, do you think the Seahawks' have the edge over the 49ers? Considering Russell Wilson and Lynch are younger than their respective counterparts, do you see the Seahawks winning the NFC West?

Mike Sando
  (1:31 PM)

I voted the Seahawks No. 1 in our power rankings the other day, so that answers your question. It's not like Seattle is clearly, obviously better. I think the Seahawks are trending very positively and I think there are a few more variables with the 49ers, but we'll see. It is March 21.

Fake Don Johnson (beach)

What's your opinion of Cards Free Agent moves? Not big splashy moves, but still

Mike Sando
  (1:33 PM)

I understand where the Cardinals stand in their plan. They have subtracted some burdensome contracts. They have signed new players to less burdensome contracts. They weren't really in position to do a lot more than that.

Jason Jacoby (St. Louis, MO)

Do you see St. Louis getting a wild card spot in the playoffs?

Mike Sando
  (1:34 PM)

That would be really impressive and I would not rule it out. The Rams showed last season they were tough, especially within the division. I'd say outside shot at wild card for the Rams just because I think at least one and probably two NFC West teams will finish ahead of them in the division this year.

Adusoron (Sacramento)

Sando, following up on your answer to Joseph's question...Since you said "transition" on defense and "wondering if they aren't going to be as good" and "Justin Smith is nearing the end" - Are you saying you see the 49ers as a declining team? If so, I quote Mark Twain "Reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated."

Mike Sando
  (1:35 PM)

No, I don't think the 49ers are in decline. Some transition going on, and with that there is some uncertainty.

Kramer (Sacramento, Ca)

What will Hawks fans say if this offseason championship doesnt amount to anything like last years preseason championship?

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

Going 11-5 last season exceeded expectations.

Jerry (Texas)

I know they signed Dahl, but wouldnt Huff or Woodson be better additions to the Niners in their secondary?

Mike Sando
  (1:37 PM)

At what price, and for how long, and what is the impact on special teams? In the locker room? Those are some of the things the team must consider when making these decisions.

Shannon (Boston Mass)

Someone asked earlier if the Niners were going to land Nnamdi, however you thought they wouldn't go after an older corner. Is this because you think the Saints will land him or that the Niners aren't realy interested.

Mike Sando
  (1:39 PM)

I think in general the 49ers are looking to get younger and cheaper with the new players they add to the defense. So, while they could certainly make an exception for a player the coaching staff really had to have, I am not convinced Nnamdi Asomugha is someone they really have to have. If the price were low, sure, but with all those draft picks, why put up roadblocks?

Rob (Augusta, Ga)

Seahawks addressed both glaring weaknesses from last year in FA and trading. Where do you see them going with the draft now? OLB? a Nickel CB? maybe more OL depth?

Mike Sando
  (1:41 PM)

They could probably use a tight end, a defensive tackle, future cornerback help, another wide receiver. Really think a bunch of options are on the table. They could take a wide receiver in the second round and it would not shock me. They have to consider the possibility of losing Golden Tate next offseason. And what if Sidney Rice takes a step backward health-wise (that actually seems unlikely, but could happen). Adding young, cheap talent at wide receiver would make sense for the long term given how much is invested in Percy Harvin and Rice.

Adusoron (Sacramento)

Do you agree that St Louis is setting themselves back a bit by letting Amendola and Jackson go? I just rewatched the loss and tie game between SF and STL and in both games, those two players were critical to the Rams. I'm sure Hawk and Card fans also feel less concern about the Rams after seeing those two leave. What say you?

Mike Sando
  (1:42 PM)

Yeah, you take one step backward in hopes of taking two steps forward.

Jared Cook (St. Loius)

How do you see the Rams using Mr. Cook as a TE or as a slot reciever?

Mike Sando
  (1:43 PM)

Both. Think they will flex him out quite a bit, hoping to create mismatches and put pressure on defenses. Having Chris Givens and Jared Cook out there is pretty interesting.

Brandon (Pullman, WA)

A lot of analysts have said that the draft this year lacks a lot of top end talent and/or depth, then they turn around and say the Seahawks gave up too much for Percy Harvin, so which is it?

Mike Sando
  (1:44 PM)

The Seahawks, by their actions, obviously were not thrilled about what they were likely to get at No. 25. That reflects their calculated opinion. I think analysts also consider the salary paid to Percy Harvin. That is a huge part of what the Seahawks gave up.

Corey (D.C.)

I know the trend in today's NFL is to mix up your personnel packages, but if you had to guess today, what would the Rams base package on offense be? A 12 with Givens, Quick, Cook in the slot, Kendricks on the line, and Pead/Richardson in the backfield?

Mike Sando
  (1:47 PM)

I would envision a lot of "12" personnel. One back, two wide receivers and then Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook on the field as tight ends. I'll be interested in seeing how much they use tight ends from the backfield, too. That is not really Jared Cook's game.

cinco bowls (belmont, ca)

Mike, admit it, you will miss that dump known as Candlestick Park?

Mike Sando
  (1:47 PM)

Yeah, great memories there. I'll miss that aspect of it but will move on quickly. Looking forward to the new place.

KingKev (WA)

I like everything Seattle has done this offseason, especially contract-wise, but Zach Miller's cap hit (and Rice's to a lesser extent), are glaring. Will they address those?

Mike Sando
  (1:47 PM)

There seem to be no plans to address either deal. Seattle planned to take bigger hits with those guys this year. Miller's number falls next year.

Chris (Fresno)

I find it annoying how coaches like Tomlin keep saying that the Niners offense is just a gimmick and will be gone soon. It makes them sound like sore losers because they could not figure it out and yes I know they did not play each other this year, but maybe they should wait and see what happens before shutting the door on these new offensive styles.

Mike Sando
  (1:49 PM)

I'm guessing Tomlin made his comments about the read option after noticing he had no read-option teams on his 2013 schedule. I don't know that he called the 49ers' offense gimmicky, though. San Francisco does so many things beyond the read option. It is one part of what the team does on offense. Not the main part.

Martin (NYC)

Is there a plan B for when Wilson or Kaep start getting lit up. I've only heard the defensive bluster.

Mike Sando
  (1:49 PM)

Lit up how? Wilson slides quite a bit. Kaepernick could probably stand to slide more frequently, but he has proven he can take big hits.

Corey (D.C.)

Quick follow-up - do you expect Brian Quick to be one of the 2 WRs in that 12 package? Or is it too early to know.

Mike Sando
  (1:50 PM)

Yeah, I think the plan will be for him to be part of it, but he has to earn that.

Adusoron (Sacramento)

I thought it was significant that Jeff Fisher did not think the Read-Option and Pistol Formation is a gimmick. I believe he thinks it's here to stay. Fisher's a very good defensive HC. Agree?

Mike Sando
  (1:50 PM)

Yeah, but on the other hand, was he going to publicly downplay what two division rivals have incorporated into their offenses?

Mike (Pasco, WA)

Any idea what the Seahawks are going to do about kicking this year? Hauschka seemed okay, but not great from long distance. With so many picks, might we draft one later?

Mike Sando
  (1:51 PM)

I could see the Seahawks going the Greg Zuerlein route. Draft a guy or go with a rookie you really like.

Spencer (Seattle)

Avril has played in a wide 9 his whole career so far and enjoyed moderate success, but I don't consider him a top tier rusher. Do you see him as a better fit for the LEO?

Mike Sando
  (1:53 PM)

I don't think he plays the run the way Chris Clemons plays it. Pete Carroll sees Avril as having the Brian Cushing/Clay Matthews body type, so we could see Seattle trying to use Avril the way Carroll used Cushing and Matthews at USC. We could see a new look on defense for Seattle.

DeeBO (home)

What % chance do you think Stanton starts at least 10 games at QB for Cards this year?

Mike Sando
  (1:53 PM)

Better than 50 percent.

Tom (Denver)

Does Austin (wr) intrigue you at 16 if you're the rams?

Mike Sando
  (1:53 PM)

Very, very much so. I wonder if he'll be gone before No. 16.

Adusoron (Sacramento)

Have to ask. What do you think about the new rule affecting RBs? Will it ruin the game for physical, punishing RBs? And whose running style is more affected, Gore or Lynch?

Mike Sando
  (1:54 PM)

I wonder whether it is a rule that is fined more than officiated. I question whether they can officiate this one very well. Seems tough. But I also don't think it's something we are going to see called a ton. Gotta be blatant.

Brandon (Pullman, WA)

Everyone loves to point out have tough St. Louis was vs the NFC West last year. I think in their 2nd years as starters the Rams won't have such success against the Hawks and 9ers in 2013. What say you?

Mike Sando
  (1:55 PM)

Yeah, I see at least two NFC West losses for the Rams in 2013. They had only one loss (and one tie) in division play last season.

Dave (Las Cruces)

More likely 49ers trade up or down in draft???

Mike Sando
  (1:55 PM)

Up. They don't really need additional picks. On the other hand, if they could pick up a first-rounder next year, that could warrant moving back.

Charles (Boise)

How much of a factor do you think Gore still is? Is this the season he splits or drops below 50% in carries?

Mike Sando
  (1:56 PM)

I could see 2013 being his final season with the team before he goes the Steven Jackson route. But I think he has enough left to get most of the carries again.

KingKev (WA)

What about Eddie Lacy to StL at #16. Fishers next Eddie George, who would help out the passing game...

Mike Sando
  (1:57 PM)

Yeah, could really see that type of move with one of the first-round picks.

Tanner (Southern California) [via mobile]

By a "new look on defense" for the Seahawks, do you mean a 3-4? just curious what you think that new look will be

Mike Sando
  (1:58 PM)

Maybe new wrinkles is the way to put it. I don't enough about what Carroll did at USC to diagram it out. There are some online resources dedicated to how he played defense there, however. Could be worth going through some of those. Avril is a different type of player from Clemons in terms of playing the run.

David Gibson (Rams Man)

do you envision the rams winning the nfc west in the next three years?

Mike Sando
  (1:59 PM)

I was thinking of that the other day and would say, yes, there is a good chance the Rams win the division in that window. I would really make the window 2014-2016, though.

Mike (Pasco, WA)

How would you say the 49ers have drafted under Harbaugh? Most of their current talent comes from previous regimes, I think. Their 1st rounder sat all of last year. Will SF make the most of all these picks?

Mike Sando
  (2:01 PM)

That isn't really fair, in my view. Check out the 49ers' draft from 2011. Aldon Smith broke Reggie White's record for sacks through two seasons. Colin Kaepernick has been better through 10 starts than just about any QB. Chris Culliver, despite his Super Bowl comments, has quickly emerged as a pretty good young corner. Kendall Hunter is a player. Daniel Kilgore remains on the team. Bruce Miller became the team's top fullback as a converted defensive end chosen in the seventh round. Not bad.

Mike Sando
  (2:02 PM)

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