Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Mike (St. Louis)
Looking at the schedule for the Rams, I don't see a game that they can win. The two winnable games, Detroit and Jacksonville, are both on the road, and the Rams are only averaging 6 points per game. So how likely is it that the Rams go 0-16?
Mike Sando (1:01 PM)
The Rams look like a team that will play hard every week. If that happens, they've got a good chance at winning a game. You figure they'll play smart one of these weeks while an opponent struggles or suffers misfortune. I just think so many things have to go wrong for a team to be as bad as 2-14, let alone 0-16. I did put together a post before the season suggesting they could be 0-7 heading into their Nov. 1 game at Detroit. Something tells me Donnie Avery will not struggle every single week. If he can make some big plays, they have a chance. The defense isn't bad.
Mike. The Seahawks running game has been mediocre at best. Have you heard any rumblings that they may try to change some things up? Get the ball in Forsett's hands more often?
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
They like Justin Forsett as a situational runner. I don't sense any push to make him into an every-down back. It's something I've discussed at length, so feel free to check out this analysis.
Dave W. (49er Country)
Mike,With Carolina playing poorly (the 49ers have their 1st rd pick this year) and with Crabtree finally coming to his senses, the 49ers are in a real good position to add talent to an already young and talented team. They should have WR locked down with Crabbs and Morgan, tight end in V. Davis, but QB is still an issue. Do you think the 49ers will go after a QB in the draft or are they counting on Nate Davis to step up and be the guy in a few years?
Mike Sando (1:04 PM)
Going after a quarterback in 2010 makes so much sense. The Panthers' record should even out a little, but the 49ers will have two first-round choices. The organization has shown better discipline lately. That tells me the team will probably not reach for a quarterback just to take one. But if an intriguing guy is there and the 49ers can justify the value, I think they'll pounce.
Chas (OC, CA.)
Hey Mike,Thanks for letting us vent a little. My question is one you have answered before, but I feel it is still not being addressed by the team. Why do we not take some shots downfield off of play-action? Seperation or not, with Donnie Avery and/or Keenan Burton, you HAVE to make the defense think you are going try and exploit man-to-man coverage when they try and stuff the box with 8 or even 9 guys expecting Steven Jackson left, Jackson middle and Jackson right. Even without a lot of time for the QB, a quick double move can be done in single coverage without having to run a simple go route everytime.
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
I agree with you in theory. Donnie Avery's speed did not seem to be there early in the season. I noticed it on the end-of-game deep route against the Redskins. Avery might not be 100 percent after missing time with that foot injury. He showed some signs of becoming elusive and more explosive against the 49ers. That 22-yard gain on third-and-14 was an encouraging play from a Rams perspective. Play-action does make sense.
Have you heard anything about what the 49ers plan to do about their poor play by their guards? Lineup changes, coaching up, free agents, trades?
Mike Sando (1:10 PM)
NFL Network had a great show with sideline audio late Wednesday night. Mike Singletary was miked up. At one point, he said something like, "Don't make me punch Chilo" in reference to right guard Chilo Rachal. He then went over to Rachal on the bench and suggested Rachal was letting down the rest of the line. He then summoned Rachal over to him nearer the sideline, asking the second-year pro if he wanted to be great. I don't think the 49ers have great backup guards, so they might need to see what they can do to get the most from what they've got. Tony Wragge would be Plan B.
Gee (Los Angeles)
Hey, Mike, be honest with me. You really want to see all the 9er games in person this season instead of wasting time with the rest of the NFC West right??? Oh, what do you see the Niners doing with those draft picks come draft time?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
I'm heading to Arizona to see Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson in Week 5. It's a huge game for Arizona. Wish I could be at Candlestick as well. The 49ers can make a statement by beating the Falcons. Draft-wise, the 49ers are a little unpredictable because they've shown they'll go for value (Michael Crabtree over a tackle or pass rusher, for instance). All things being equal, the team could stand to upgrade the offensive line. QB is another area to consider longer term. Every team can use more pass rushers, including this one.
gore Los Angeles [via mobile]
Who's gonna win on Sunday, 49ers or Falcons?
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
I'm leaning toward the Falcons right now based on what I saw from the 49ers' offensive line in Week 4.
MC Hammer (Oakland) [via mobile]
Want me to negotiate your next deal? See, I get results!!!
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Mike Singletary would probably rather watch Hammer videos than the Super Bowl Shuffle.
You ranked the Broncos 8th. If they win this week does that make them top 4?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
Where a team ranks depends also on how other teams play. Rankings are relative.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, is it true that the Seahawks just aren't as good as everyone thought they would be?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
I do not know what 'everyone' thought about them. Their prospects were easy to define. Matt Hasselbeck plus Walter Jones plus Patrick Kerney equaled division contender. How many of those guys might be playing in Week 5? Could be zero. How many combined games have they missed? Six of 12. How many victories do the Seahawks have? Half as many as we might have expected.
Tron (Bay Area, CA)
Each year the Seahawks defense is incredibly bad against good teams. I know there are injuries, but their zone (even with a new D coordinator) seems to have so much open space available. Do you think their problems are personnel or scheme related?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
Personnel- and Peyton Manning-related, mostly.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
For the right price and a pre-negotated contract, do you think the Cardinals should consider Peppers? I know he is not playing as well as last year (which should bring the price down), but the Cardinals need more help on Defense.
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
I would not install a 3-4 defense and then break the bank for a 4-3 defensive end who would have to prove himself as a 3-4 OLB to justify the investment. The Cardinals look pretty good on the defensive line with Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. Even Alan Branch has played pretty well.
eric (phx, az)
Mike, I may be biased here, but i still think the cards can win the division. Seattle and St Louis are battling injury problems again, and beating the 49ers in San Fran is doable. Do you think they can get the O line in gear and pull it off to make the playoffs again?
Mike Sando (1:24 PM)
It's way, way too early to rule out the Cardinals. We will know much more after Week 5. Arizona needs to reestablish an offensive identity, finding a way to get Beanie Wells more involved. I think Arizona is one game behind its projected pace. San Francisco is one game ahead of its projected pace. The offensive line will struggle against good pass rushers, particularly if Arizona falls behind. That was the case last season and it will be the case as long as Levi Brown and Mike Gandy are the tackles.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Do you think the NFL will let Rush Limbaugh buy the Rams? That couldn't possibly be a good idea.
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
I'm sure the proposed ownership group would make every effort to allay concerns. I do not necessarily think the league would block him as a part-owner.
How many points do the rams get this weekend? What are the possibilites they get shutout 2 games in a row?
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
The Rams will again have problems scoring. Perhaps they can pop something in the return game or get Steven Jackson loose for a long run. Let's see if they cut down the penalties. I think that cost them a few points in Week 4.
Cpl Peak (US Marine)
The 49ers pass rush looks much improved from last year, but the rush is coming more from the down lineman than the Manny Lawson or Parys Haralson. Do you think the Niners will still try to draft this postion?
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Yes, I think they'll look at the position in the draft. Lawson and Haralson seemed to get enough pressure against the Rams, but I do not think either one presents serious problems for teams with good tackles. That could come into play against better teams.
Derrick (Vicksburg, MS)
Hi Mike. Now that Crabtree is signed, Do you think that later when he is used a little more the 49ers will use 3 WRs packages to spread the field and run the ball from them? that way keeping teams from putting 8 in the box and giving the running game a fighting chance.
Mike Sando (1:31 PM)
I'm skeptical. The 49ers have run the ball only six times from three-WR personnel groupings. They've gained 3 yards total. This seems to be a philosophical thing based in part on fears over the offensive line and probably quarterback. I'm just not convinced the 49ers would pass from three-WR groupings often enough on early downs to create a surprise factor by running the ball. It just doesn't seem to be in their nature.
Do you see the seahawks getting healthy and making a serious playoff push
Mike Sando (1:34 PM)
No. I do not think the Seahawks will be healthy enough to make such a run. It is possible, but nothing about how things have gone so far suggests that will happen in the future.
Jerry (Folsom, CA)
Play action seems like a no brainer for the Rams. Opposing defenses only have 3 people in coverage against WR's so the possibility of getting the free safety to bite should be worth it. ... and what about screens? S-Jax needs to chip Jared Allen and then get the ball in the flat. I know we are low on talent, but the play calling really seems to be poorly thought out.
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
It all makes so much sense in theory. Then you watch the Rams play and it all blows up. Penalties. Poor pass protection. Poor quarterbacking. Questionable personnel usage. Bad all the way around.
Sando, you've been ignoring me lately what's up with that? Michael Crabtree is in uniform now so I am ecstatic. Lately you've been saying that the NFC West is still up for grabs, and you predict the 49ers to lose this week against Atlanta. What would you think if the 49ers beat Atlanta?
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
I've got you covered Ikee. I'm just injecting a little balance here. Let's not get carried away after four games and only one outcome that qualifies as even moderately surprising. If the 49res beat the Falcons, it's a very good sign for San Francisco. But if the Cardinals also win in Week 5, how much ground is gained? Arizona could still win at San Francisco. Mike Singletary knows it's a long season.
Chris (Tempe, AZ)
Mike, I enjoy your columns and appreciate you keeping us informed on the NFC West, however, your bias for the Seahawks almost discredits some of the things you say. You never give the 9ers their proper due (I'll admit, they're not world beaters but you always seem to find some way to take away from their wins) and you clearly favor the Seahawks (I think most people will admit that even if they had Hasselbald, Jones and Kerney they still would be worlds away from their 10 game mark you set for them). All I'm saying is keep up the good work, but try and leave your personal feelings aside when writing objectionable columns. Thanks.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
The 49ers haven't had a winning season in years. What is their proper due? I've attended every one of their games this season and given them credit for beating the Cardinals in Arizona and nearly beating the Vikings. I've repeatedly described them as a much smarter team under Mike Singletary. The old you-covered-Seattle-so-you-must-like-them approach has been tried before, but I think it's lazy -- even objectionable (but not objective).
Has Aaron Curry been a bust so far for the Seahawks? He is getting way too many penalties called on him.
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
Aaron Curry doesn't rank high on the list of most penalized NFC West players. And I would never declare anyone a bust or great player after four games. He was excellent against the Rams in the opener. He did some very good things against the Bears. I thought he dropped off against the Colts. Again, though, it's been four games. Too early to say anything close to definitive.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Mike, can you assess the Warner-Boldin-Fitz relationship right now? What is the Cardinals biggest key to success currently?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
I think the relationship is a good one. The Cardinals were frustrated offensively against the 49ers and Colts. I would expect things to even out a little as the season progresses. The biggest key to success, I think, is getting something going in the run game. On defense, the biggest key is curtailing the big play.
Zach (Waterbury, CT)
What are the chances the Rams pick up a QB in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Those chances seem to improve every week. They'll be picking early enough to find one. They'll be past the most punitive part (from a cap standpoint) of Marc Bulger's contract.
Sando, Maybe I wasn't specific in my question, my bad. I know it's way too early to claim a division title in San Francisco, what I meant was, you have the Cardinals as your favorite to win the division, how much would a 49er win this weekend sway your vote?
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
It would close the gap even more. I like what I see from the 49ers in a lot of areas. Their defense is good. Their head coach is a strong leader. They've developed Vernon Davis, finally, and their ground game will improve once Frank Gore returns. Here is what holds me back when I think about the 49ers: I think their offense needs to improve to beat good teams consistently. Now, if the Cardinals are not a good team, which is possible, San Francisco could win this division without having to beat good teams. That is something we'll be able to assess more completely after Week 5.
Jeff (South Jersey)
Hi Mike. Do you think the Texans will focus on the passing game this week, given that Schaub is playing well and Slaton has struggled with fumbles? Do you think the Cards D will be able to shut down a receiver like Andre Johnson, or at least limit him?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
I do not like what I've seen from the Cardinals' secondary this season. This group was supposed to improve quite a bit. Instead, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seems to have regressed some, while Bryant McFadden's physical nature hasn't always overcome limitations in coverage. Even Adrian Wilson has had a couple lapses this season. Andre Johnson has to like his chances. Everything changes, though, if the defense gets after Matt Schaub. Schaub has had durability issues. If the defense comes out firing and the crowd gets into it, and Wilson comes off the corner and tags Schaub, the dynamics change.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. Remember, you can follow the blog on Twitter, too.
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