San Francisco 49ers Offseason Shows Team Willing to Take on Character Concerns
Thus far in Jim Harbaugh's tenure as the head coach of the 49ers, he has predominantly worked with players who are considered to be stand-up guys with limited risk attached to them.
The 2012 offseason hints that Harbaugh and company have changed their ways and are willing to sign players who have a history of trouble.
I actually find it quite easy to disregard players with character complaints when their past offenses are miniscule. I find it funny that those in sports (especially college players) are held to a higher standard than everyone else.
But what I find interesting is the minor change in the philosophy of player evaluation that the front office has taken.
Maybe I'm incorrect in thinking that its stance has changed, but previous to this offseason, I can't think of any headcases that were on the roster at all.
Only NaVorro Bowman in 2010 had some trouble, but it never developed into anything serious I believe, and it was before Harbaugh's time anyway.
Bowman quickly matured and now looks like a draft day steal who should never have slid because of his past.
Either way, the 49ers continued their trend of taking low-risk players throughout the 2012 NFL draft; this in contrast to division rivals like the St Louis Rams who selected the troubled Janoris Jenkins and the Arizona Cardinals who drafted Michael Floyd.
The two players in particular that I'm talking about are Randy Moss and Perrish Cox.
Cox was signed to a two-year contract only a few weeks after he was acquitted of rape charges.
I also learned from reading an Evan Silva piece on ProFootballTalk.NBCSports.com that Cox had a history of trouble dating back to his college days with Oklahoma State where he went from a first-round prospect to a fifth-rounder who was even banned from the school's Pro Day.
Cox actually performed very well in his rookie season before the legal issues mentioned began to cloud his NFL career.
I have no doubt that he has the talent to resurrect his career under the guidance of the 49ers coaching staff, some of whom he is already familiar with. But I still think it is uncharacteristic of the organization to sign someone like Cox.
In the case of Randy Moss, it is not legal issues but instead 'me' issues that seem to follow Moss wherever he goes.
Nobody has ever doubted that Moss is always in great shape, but he has a history of throwing his toys out of the pram when he feels he is being ignored.
Moss had had issues dating back to high school and college which caused him to slide to 21st overall in the 1998 NFL draft, a regret most teams in the NFL will have.
Moss has once again received rave reviews thus far into his 49ers career, but I will withhold judgement until I seen him on game day.
The signings of this troubled but talented duo seem to suggest that the team is very confident in its ability to keep everyone humble.
Moss in particular is often cited as a locker room "cancer" because of how he alienates himself from the team and doesn't always give 100 percent.
There must be the belief that a veteran core of Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and others who have a great attitude will be able to keep everyone in line.
Some may feel that the signings are.an unnecessary risk, whilst others may be excited by the potential that the two players flaunt.
One may be nearing the end and one may be at the beginning of his career, but I feel a little happier that the deals are low risk/high reward.
On relatively small deals by NFL standards, I'm sure both players will have a chip on their shoulder and want to prove themselves, plus a little competition never hurts anyone.
So the question is, are you happy to see players with character concerns sign or would you rather the team continue to build around model citizens?
Either way, it seems the team may be a little more willing to take a chance under the belief that the locker room is very close-knit and will sort itself out.
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