One of the San Francisco 49ers' main goals over the offseason was to add weaponry at receiver. They made several moves, signing steady veteran Mario Manningham and drafting A.J. Jenkins in the first round. One move though, that has been scoffed at by some, and ignored by others, could actually pay the most dividends for the Niners in 2011 - the signing of free agent Randy Moss. SportsIllustrated's Don Banks recently wrote that the emergence, or not, of Randy Moss will be one of the biggest storylines for San Francisco's upcoming training camp. Per Banks:
Will Randy Moss run a go route to renewed relevance in San Francisco? -- Earlier this month, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh called Moss his team's "best receiver right now,'' but there are a few different ways to take that compliment. Was the "right now'' qualification the key phrase, given that it's July and there are no games scheduled until August? Was it an attempt to stroke Moss' ego and fire up the likes of fellow San Francisco receivers Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and rookie A.J. Jenkins? Or was it Harbaugh just being Harbaugh, laying it on thick at times and going all cryptic at others?
The opportunity in San Francisco is certainly there for Moss. He's on a good team, as he requires in order to give maximum effort, there's an obvious need for more downfield passing with the 49ers, and he might just have been humbled a bit by his journeyman experience of 2010 and his one-year retirement in 2011. The mental part of the game has always mattered greatly with Moss, but he's 35 now, so he has to re-prove his physical skills, too. Are his legs still elite? Can he separate and jump like the Moss of old? He's going to have to show more than just his strong minicamp work this spring to beat back the doubters and return to prominence once more.
With early reports indicating that A.J. Jenkins might take a little time to get up to NFL speed, Randy Moss could emerge as the Niners' top deep threat. It's a role that he's mastered in the past, -- he's known by some as the greatest deep threat receiver ever -- and if he's hungry, and can keep his head on straight, he'll give opposing defensive coordinators and players alike headaches. The move has flown under the radar a bit league-wide because most assume Randy will just end up being Randy, but if he can buck the recent trend, the Niners will have a steal on their hands.
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