NFL Nation: 49ers sign Randy Moss

A few additional thoughts on Randy Moss' signing with San Francisco as NFL free agency nears:

  • The already shrinking receiver market got smaller Tuesday when Marques Colston re-signed with New Orleans. The 49ers have at least bought some protection at a reasonable price. Moss' one-year deal is for between $2.5 million and $4 million depending upon whether Moss reaches incentives, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
  • Moss has said he's gotten a bad rap through the media. Whether or not that is true, quarterbacks sometimes value raw talent at the position enough to overlook other things. I can recall Matt Hasselbeck saying years ago he would have welcomed Terrell Owens to Seattle if the Seahawks had pursued him, even though perceptions at the time suggested Owens might be more trouble than he was worth. Jim Harbaugh is the 49ers' head coach, but he was a quarterback first. He thinks like a quarterback. That might partly explain why the 49ers have been willing to add Moss and, last year, Braylon Edwards to the mix. Quarterbacks value receivers.
  • The 49ers came very close to reaching the Super Bowl last season. As a result, they naturally might wonder if they were a player or two away from breaking through. Each season is different. The 49ers know this. But it's tempting to add a player such as Moss after coming so close to the Super Bowl and getting so little from the wide receiver position during the playoffs.

A few more hours til free agency begins. Prepare to be disappointed in case your favorite team shows restraint.
Future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss will make his return to Gillette Stadium in 2012, but not as a member of the New England Patriots.

The dynamic receiver is back in the NFL after signing with the San Francisco 49ers late Monday. Moss, 35, will try to add much-needed speed and depth to San Francisco's receiving corps. Here is NFC West blogger Mike Sando's analysis on the signing.

But in terms of the AFC East, the reigning AFC champion Patriots will host Moss and the 49ers next season. We propose that this game should be put in prime time when the NFL announces its 2012 schedule this spring.

There are several good storylines worth mentioning. The first tie is Moss, who spent three-plus seasons in New England. Moss nearly won a Super Bowl after the 2007 season, but New England's undefeated run was stopped by the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

It also doesn't hurt that New England and San Francisco were two of the NFL's best teams last season. San Francisco lost in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC title game, and New England lost to New York in the Super Bowl. Both teams are projected as contenders once again.

Finally, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grew up in California as a big 49ers and Joe Montana fan. Brady, 34, only gets to play his childhood team once every four years. This might be Brady’s last meeting against the 49ers.

Add it all up and there's no reason for this game not to be on Sunday or Monday night.
Receiver Randy Moss' late-night contract agreement with the San Francisco 49ers puts him on track for one more tour through the NFC North. Because the 2012 schedule matches us up against NFC West teams, Moss and the 49ers will play at the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings while hosting the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

When Moss first announced he would come out of retirement, we spelled out a series of criteria necessary for any team serious about signing him. The 49ers have most of them. They have a strong and established coaching staff led by Jim Harbaugh, along with and an assistant head coach/special teams in Brad Seely who has personal experience with Moss during their time with the New England Patriots. You wonder if quarterback Alex Smith has the arm strength and mental toughness to handle Moss, but rare is a team that has all of its Moss-related bases covered.

Having covered Moss at various points in his career, I wish the 49ers — and especially Harbaugh — the best of luck. It hasn't ended well for Moss at any of his previous five NFL stops, and it was interesting that columnist Ray Ratto suggested Harbaugh is strong-minded enough to pull the plug on Moss if necessary. That's the easy part. Coaxing a positive combination of production and relative harmony, while living with the inevitable challenges to authority, is the hard part.

It isn't a good sign that Moss blamed the "world-wide media" for giving him "a bad rap" during a conference call with Bay Area reporters Monday night. There is no doubt that Moss has had plenty of bad things written about him, almost all of which he earned through his pathologically contrarian behavior. Any true change in Moss' attitude must start with ownership of his shortcomings.

But with that said, we should consider ourselves fortunate that the NFC West and NFC North will match up in 2012. Moss is one of the best receivers in the history of the game, and we'll get at least one more chance to see him play. He is nothing if not entertaining.
Randy Moss just finished speaking with reporters on a conference call after signing a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. A few highlights:

  • Moss pointed to "personal reasons" for his one-year retirement from the game. Asked to elaborate, he said he would "rather not even talk about it" because no one would understand. Moss said his return was "a family decision" reflecting his love for the game and belief that he can "play at a high level" at age 35.
  • Why the 49ers? Moss: "Their upside was something that I studied and looked at and evaluated. Coach (Jim) Harbaugh is really a young, enthusiastic coach. I love enthusiasm. When they picked me up from the airport last night and everything we talked about, and coming in and taking a physical and working out, a lot of things stood out. It was really a no-brainer."
  • Moss repeatedly referenced his passion for the game as a reason for returning.
  • Moss said he does not know Alex Smith. He would not speak specifically about Smith or receiver Michael Crabtree, instead saying he looked forward to working with "all the guys" on the team. But if any young player did seek knowledge from him, Moss would be eager to help. Moss: "If those guys are willing to accept me as a teammate, I'm willing to give my knowledge, my work ethic. I look forward to working with these young guys." Moss talked in terms of giving back to the game.
  • The 49ers have not settled on a specific role for Moss. Moss said that would happen once they got into minicamps. Moss: "Whatever my role is going to be, I just want to get out there and be productive."
  • Moss clearly enjoyed catching passes from Harbaugh during his workout. He said Harbaugh "can still bring it with his old age" and joked that the 49ers' coach probably had an icepack on his shoulder tonight.

Thanks to Moss and the 49ers for making time late on a Monday.

Randy Moss as the new Braylon Edwards

March, 12, 2012

A few thoughts after the San Francisco 49ers reached agreement Monday on a one-year deal with receiver Randy Moss:
  • The 49ers needed to do something at the position. They probably still do. But there's at least an outside chance Moss will help them open up the passing game and threaten opponents down the field. There was less chance of that happening without Moss on the roster.
  • San Francisco's low-risk investment in Braylon Edwards did not work out last season. Edwards suffered knee and shoulder injuries. He appeared to become frustrated. The 49ers cut him late in the season even though they needed manpower at the position. Moss is the new Edwards, a big-name receiver trying to revive his career on the cheap. Edwards was a strong vertical threat before joining the 49ers, but that aspect of his game never materialized in San Francisco. The 49ers' yards-per-catch were down across the board. That changed in the playoffs when Vernon Davis got going. Can Moss provide something similar, even in small doses? Davis is much younger and more athletic than Moss at this point.
  • What will Moss offer in the locker room? How will he mesh with Michael Crabtree? The 49ers were generally pleased with Crabtree last season. They loved the way he blocked. They appreciated the plays he made in crucial moments, including against Cincinnati (negated by a bad officiating call) and at Seattle (clutch catch down the sideline). There's still a sense from the outside that Crabtree hasn't fully bought into what the team is doing, as reflected by some of his comments and, in the past, his lack of participation in various offseason practices. Those perceptions might not line up with how coach Jim Harbaugh views Crabtree, however.
  • A one-year contract gives Harbaugh and the organization all the leverage. The 49ers can release Moss at any time. That makes this signing a low-risk proposition. Skepticism should prevail until Moss proves he can be more effective than he was while bouncing from team to team to team during a lackluster 2010 season. He's 35 years old and has been out of the game for a year. We're more likely to see an old Moss than the Moss of old, and the nature of the 49ers' offense wouldn't seem to facilitate downfield strikes.
  • Assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator Brad Seely was with Moss in New England. His presence provided the 49ers with an honest first-hand assessment of what Moss might offer. Then again, Moss was catching passes from Tom Brady in New England. How will he react with Alex Smith as his likely quarterback?
  • Minicamps and training camp just became more interesting for the 49ers. Moss will be the center of attention. I'm looking forward to seeing him match up against Arizona's Patrick Peterson and the big, aggressive corners in Seattle.

Your thoughts on Moss to San Francisco? Fire away.