May 23, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss (84) catches a ball from quarterback Alex Smith (11) at the 49ers practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Randy Moss sure has the potential to make something of his 2012 season with an opportunity in San Francisco. But where are all these meteoric expectations coming from? Is it all hype - false hope, even? For more on Moss and the 49ers in general, head over to Niners Nation.
When the San Francisco 49ers gave wide receiver Randy Moss his second chance, few other teams in the NFL were even interested in seeing him workout. Sure, he reportedly gave a good workout to the New Orleans Saints, but outside of that, there wasn't much buzz. For 49ers fans in particular, there also wasn't a lot of buzz.
The words "washed up" were thrown around a lot, and with good cause - Moss was miserable in 2010 on and off the field, and wasn't heard from in 2011. You don't get to come back from that with a whole lot of hype, at least until you sign with a team. Once that happens, you're suddenly the guy who is going to prove everyone wrong and show them he's still got it.
Interest in Moss among 49ers fans skyrocketed once they heard that Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke were actually interested in bringing him in. Harbaugh said that Moss looked great, so now everyone is talking in 1,000-yard seasons and immediate relief for everyone else on the field. It happened overnight - and all because Harbaugh, the man who holds no shame in using the media to stroke an ago, said so.
Now, to keep a level head, the actual signing wasn't likely a bad one. Harbaugh isn't likely to bring in someone who can harm his locker room, and Moss got exactly zero dollars guaranteed in his one-year contract. It's all up to him to show everybody that he can still play. You'll be hard-pressed to find someone who actually dislikes the signing when it comes to thinking about the on-the-field product.
If he busts on the field, then he busts on the field. The 49ers can pay him the pennies he earned (my belly full of cheap TV dinners is screaming at me over the usage of "pennies" in relation to a single game-check that will total more than my salary this year) by simply existing and move him aside. If he's a problem in the locker room that's another thing, but we won't talk about that.
Getting to the point, folks are expecting so much of Moss. Once he became a San Francisco 49er, all legitimate projections went out the window and he became the Randy Moss of 2009 and prior. Completely glossing over 2010 and his whopping zero games played in 2011.
Sure, it's definitely likely that Moss makes the roster and it's likely he'll see the field as the 49ers do their damnedest to kick the tires. It's likely he'll have a positive effect when the safeties are pulled off of guys like Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker to account for the fact that Moss does or did have deep-threat ability.
But anything he does should be considered a bonus at this point. It's safe to say that Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham will be the top two guys, with a cluster of hopefuls behind that includes Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams and first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins.
Moss will have all the opportunities in the world to make something of 2012, but there is plenty of competition there. Young and determined competition that can likely do a lot more than Moss at this stage in his career. Sure, the coaches and media think Moss looks great - that's not in question here. But things are much different when he gets back on the field, and it's been a couple of years since he's taken that field with any shred of confidence in himself, so where's all the confidence from 49ers fans coming from?
Lastly, do you think that if Moss signed with say, the Oakland Raiders, that 49ers fans would be doing anything but laughing at their desperation at this point in the offseason?