Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Randy Moss will stretch the field for the 49ers' offense
The San Francisco 49ers have made major upgrades to their offensive personnel since the 2011 season ended. GM Trent Baalke brought in several players designed to give the 49ers' offense a huge boost in explosiveness and productivity.
Randy Moss heads the list of newcomers, along with fellow receiver Mario Manningham. Moss, who sat out all of the 2011 season, has a lot to prove, both on and off the field. He needs to show that he can still be an effective player and also fit into the team concept that head coach Jim Harbaugh demands.
Moss has looked good in training camp and has been a model citizen. In addition to making plays on the field, Moss has taken the young 49er receivers under his wing and has done a good job teaching them some of the finer points of being a quality NFL receiver.
Manningham was signed as a free agent after playing his first four seasons with the New York Giants. In 2011, he had 39 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns. He became expendable with the emergence of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in New York.
Manningham, who was one of the stars of the Giants' Super Bowl victory, will get plenty of playing time with the 49ers. He will either start opposite Michael Crabtree, or act as the 49ers' third wide receiver.
Brandon Jacobs, another former Giant, was acquired to provide punch in short yardage situations. Jacobs is an upgrade over Anthony Dixon, who tried unsuccessfully to fill this role in 2011.
The 49ers also snagged wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with their first-round selection in the most recent draft. Jenkins has a great deal of potential, but will not likely make a big impact this season.
LaMichael James was the 49ers' second-round draft selection. He is extremely explosive and can score anytime he touches the ball. Harbaugh will definitely find a way to utilize James' speed and quickness.
In addition to these newcomers, the 49ers return their leading wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. The 49ers have bolstered their passing attack immensely.
Frank Gore is the starting running back and had a fine year in 2011. He rushed for 1,211 yards on 282 carries and scored eight touchdowns. Kendall Hunter showed a great deal of promise last year and will also compete for playing time. As Gore's backup, Hunter rushed for 473 yards on 112 carries.
The 49ers' offense should be much improved. Quarterback Alex Smith benefited greatly by working with Harbaugh last year. Another year in Harbaugh's system should put Smith in a position to soar in 2012.
The much improved offense should be much more explosive and exciting. We should also see greater productivity in the red zone. With the wide range of weapons the 49ers' offense now possesses, opposing defense will have trouble keeping the 49ers out of the end zone.