Well one of the concerns going into the 49ers’ offseason was there need for wide receiver. They have one of the best Tight Ends in Vernon Davis. Michael Crabtree was their leading receiver with 73 receptions for 874 yards. However, the 49ers never found that consistent 2nd option at wide receiver. They took a low risk on Braylon Edwards last year and it ended up as a bust, with Edwards only catching 15 balls for 181 yards. Yes he suffered minor knee and shoulder injuries, but in the games he participated, he never lit it up, which was why the 49ers cut him late in the season. But once again, the 49ers are taking a chance at another aging wide receiver, the enigma that is Randy Moss.
After taking two years off, one on the field and one off the field, Randy Moss has signed a one year deal with the 49ers for 2.5 million plus 1.5 million of incentives. Moss left the NFL on a bad note, first being cut by the Patriots, then signed by the team he started his career with, the Vikings, only to be cut after four games. Then he got picked up by the Tennessee Titans, but only had 6 receptions in 8 games played, and announced his retirement at the end of the 2010 season. However, late in the 2011 season, Moss expressed interest in coming back. He worked out the New Orleans Saints before making his way to the 49ers. 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh was present for the workout, even throwing a couple of passes himself to the future hall of fame receiver.
What does Randy Moss bring to the 49er organization: A deep threat. San Francisco was 23rd in the league in average yards per reception with 11.5. It wasn’t until the playoffs that the Niners, more specifically Vernon Davis, showed that they were capable of having a deep passing game, with Davis averaging a staggering 29.2 yards per catch. Moss brings 15.6 yards per reception to the table, and an automatic double team. I’m sure no one was more happier about this signing than Frank Gore. With Moss in their lineup, it sure will be hard to defenses to put eight men in the box.
With all the positives Moss brings to the table, he also brings a heavy amount of negatives. He’s notoriously known for taking plays off and trying when he wants to. He’ll be the first one to admit it. It’s clearly evident when you look at his numbers season to season. In 2003 for the Minnesota Viking, Moss had career highs in both receptions (111) and yards (1,632) in a season. However in 2004, playing 3 less games than last year, he tanked to just 49 receptions for 767 yards. He had only four less touchdowns than last year, but still he ended his first run with the Vikings on a down note. A similar pattern occurred with his next stop, the Oakland Raiders. He had 60 receptions for 1005 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first year, but when internal disputes surfaced between Moss and the Raiders in the following season, his numbers once again dropped, with just 42 receptions for 553 and only 3 touchdowns in 13 games of play.
It looked like Moss needed another change of scenery to get back into prime form. That and a first ballot hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady. On his first year with the patriots, Moss set the record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 23. But after two more seasons of stellar play with the Patriots, Moss seemed to mentally check out, causing the Patriot organization to cut him after their first four games. It was the start of a year where Moss played for three different teams, and played like a ghost on the football field, a year that ended with the announcement of his retirement.
Now he’s back after a year without football, but the question remains, which Randy Moss will show up? I think that taking a year off can only be a positive. Yes, he is a year older, but physically, he won’t have to deal with the nagging injuries that spilled over from a previous season. He should be refreshed both physically and mentally for the upcoming season. Although he is a free agent, all signs are pointing to Alex Smith resigning with the 49ers and will remain their starter after a comeback year and a great postseason performance. But he’s definitely no Tom Brady. I’m curious to see what chemistry Smith and Moss develop, if they develop anything at all.
Ultimately I think this is a good move by the 49ers. It’s low risk, high reward. They’ve only signed him for a year, so if it doesn’t work out, if won’t hurt them in the long run. They’ve addressed their biggest weakness with this signing, a third option to throw the ball too. But how will Moss react if he doesn’t get the ball enough? Will he block for Frank Gore if they run towards his direction? Only one person knows this answer. His name is Randy Moss.