After 35-year-old Randy Moss signed with the San Francisco 49ers last month, pundits were split about what the former All-Pro wide receiver will bring to San Francisco in 2012.
Is he a difference-maker and a deep threat, as he has been on the field for most of his career? Or is he past his prime and a negative influence in the locker room?
ESPN’s Mike Sando, who covers the NFC West, wrote that the deal was really a low-risk move for San Francisco, because it’s just a one-year contract, the team has all the leverage and the Niners can release Moss if he becomes a problem or is ineffective. Meanwhile, if Moss is motivated and in tune after a season away from the game, he can be a huge addition to the receiving corps.
But, noted Sando, “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.”
Count Niners cornerback Carlos Rogers with a dissenting voice on the matter.
Rogers, who went to the Pro Bowl in his first season with San Francisco in 2011, then re-signed with the team this offseason, looks at the addition of wide receivers Moss and Mario Manningham as terrific moves to bring more speed to the offense.
Speaking of Moss, Rogers is hopeful there’s still a lot left in his tank.
“I just hope we get just half of his ability,” Rogers told the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows. “Just his name’s a threat out there, somebody you’re not going to single cover. You’ve got to put a double out there for him, and it’s going to open up space for a lot of those guys.”
Rogers, a former Washington Redskin, also faced Manningham twice a year when Manningham played for the Giants – then faced him twice last season, once in the regular season and again in the NFC Championship Game. He has great respect for Manningham’s ability.
“I know what type of receiver he is, and No. 1 he’s got speed, and you can’t coach that,” Rogers told Barrows. “That’s just a threat in itself. … If it wasn’t for that huge catch he made in the Super Bowl, you’re basically looking at New England holding up that trophy again.”
Last season, the 49ers offense relied on a strong running game with Frank Gore and rookie Kendall Hunter and a passing game that was geared toward short completions in a new West Coast offense. But big plays downfield were few. According to Barrows, the 49ers had just six pass plays of 40 or more yards, which ranked 26th in the league, and their average of 7.2 yards per completion was just 16th in the league.
Manningham certainly will be a plus. Time will tell if Moss is, also.