How the Randy Moss Signing Affects the 49ers’ OffseasonFollow @NFLDraftShow
Is Randy Moss and his off-the-wall attitude ready for a return to the NFL? The 49ers seem to think so
Randy Moss signed a one year contract with the San Francisco 49ers last week, officially coming out of retirement less than a year after announcing as much in August 2011.
For the 49ers, the signing of Moss satisfies a big need on the offensive side of the ball. But it also affects how the team will approach the 2012 NFL Draft. Before Moss became a 49er, many mock drafts had the defending NFC West champions taking a wide receiver like Kendall Wright of Baylor or Mohamed Sanu of Rutgers with the 30th overall pick in the draft. Now, the team may be looking to fill other needs with Moss on board.
Moss's production decreased significantly in 2010, the last season he played in. He left the New England Patriots midseason on bad terms, and then had two unsuccessful stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans.
Moss has always been a controversial figure in the NFL who can be a troublemaker at times, but his undeniable talent has always made him an attractive player in the eyes of most observers. When playing to his full potential, he is widely considered one of the best and most dangerous vertical threats in the league's history.
Wide receiver has been a challenging position for the Niners in recent years. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco's first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, has not lived up to expectations. His underachievement is part of the reason the team felt compelled to offer Moss a contract.
Even though some will still project a wide receiver in the first round for the 49ers, the team may be inclined to look elsewhere. The Moss signing gives them the flexibility to look at other positions of need like an offensive lineman or a defensive back.
The Niners have brought back all eleven of their starters on defense, including Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers. While the team had remarkable health in 2011, it is not in their interests to test fate again in 2012, so depth is important. A great fit at cornerback could be Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, who could learn a lot from Rogers.
Ohio State offensive line prospect Mike Adams may be a great fit to come in and protect Alex Smith
At offensive tackle, there are several options for San Francisco. Ohio State's Mike Adams, Georgia's Cordy Glenn and Florida State's Zebrie Sanders are talented and experienced college products who can come in and contribute right away.
Offensive guard is another position the 49ers could address early in the draft. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler would be a solid pick, considering the success of previous Wisconsin products.
Should the 49ers elect to still pursue a wide receiver in the first round, there are more options after Wright and Sanu. Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina is a very gifted player despite a lack of discipline and, at times, weight issues. Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech impressed many at the 2012 NFL Combine, but NFL teams are always wary of products of offensive systems like Georgia Tech's.
If the 49ers do not take a wide receiver with their first round pick, it is likely that they will still pursue one in later rounds. It is a position the team needs to rebuild after the disappointments of the last few seasons. The Randy Moss signing can help the unit, but good young talent at the receiver position is important for the franchise moving forward.
The unlikely success at quarterback last year helped Alex Smith (middle) earn a big contract from the 49ers
With the 49ers out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, it appears that their best option at the quarterback position is retaining Alex Smith, who had the best year of his career in 2011 under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh.
San Francisco does have one great weapon in its passing game in tight end Vernon Davis. The team may, however, choose to go for depth at that position if it sees value. Don't be surprised if the 49ers elect to take Missouri's Michael Egnew or Oregon's David Paulson if either is available in the second or tird round.
It would not surprise anyone to see San Francisco select a wide receiver. Despite their needs at other positions and the Randy Moss signing, wide receiver is a position that hurt the team in their playoff push in 2011. The difference between losing the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants and making the Super Bowl could have been at that position, and leaving the wide receiver situation where it is may not be an option.
Eric Sion is a sophomore majoring in Print Journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Eric hails from Springfield, New Jersey and is a senior majoring in print journalism. He is an avid fan of the New York Giants, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and Penn State sports. He hopes to one day be a beat writer for a professional sports team or some type of sports writer. Eric is also a Nittanyville organizational officer. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @ericbsion.