The San Francisco 49ers have two exhibition games under their belt in 2012, and thus far, we haven't seen much from the 49ers receivers this preseason. The recent chatter has been centralized around the run game and defense—no surprise there.
Though, San Francisco is toting a new-look wide receiver corps that features four players who were first-round picks, including a future Canton resident in Randy Moss. It is a group that now has versatility, home run speed, dynamic agility and depth.
And moreover, there seems to be a perfect balance of experience and youth.
There were a lot of questions originally surrounding the Moss signing, but as the offseason has elapsed, excitement has blanketed whatever concerns were initially raised.
As the season nears, I think people need to start anticipating the return of Randy Moss. He is one of the NFL's all-time greats looking to put the finishing touches on his illustrious career.
And age 35 or not, Moss is and has forever been an elite athlete; his body of work and how he achieved it dictates as such. Not to mention, Moss was already 30 years old when he first arrived to New England. So, physically, as an early-to-mid 30s receiver, Moss can be productive.
What will help him defy age is that, by nature, he is a high-energy player. For the majority of his career, he brought a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to the game of football. And rightfully so, because when motivated, Moss is simply dominant.
He has the ability to take a football game over from a wide-receiver standpoint, now providing a much-needed threat to the 49ers offense.
An element San Francisco has been without has been the ability to stretch defenses. With his speed and ability to create separation, Moss will take teams deep and provide the vertical threat. When Moss is on the field, there is always the threat of pass because he's someone who's open even when he's covered.
This brings us to his leaping ability and history of acrobatic, body-bending catches—catches Moss has made in double- and triple-coverage, simply elevating over defenders with routinely perfect timing.
With his combination of height, speed, leaping ability and spectacular hands, Moss revolutionized the receiver position. Exhibit A: Calvin Johnson.
To highlight what Brian Billick said, because it really is important to Moss' game, is this:
We talk about an impact player, we talk about that player that you have to account for on every down, and we probably overuse it because there is really only a handful of guys, Randy Moss is one of those guys. And the threat that he has on any given play to kill you deep, the thing every defense is most worried about, he's a true difference-maker.
This has defined Moss over the years; when his game is on, he is indefensible.
Please view the entirety of this compilation video cataloging and characterizing the career of Randy Moss:
With all of this information, and having known what Moss is capable of, the conversation now turns to San Francisco.
What makes this a significant year for Randy Moss' career?
Why does this relationship work in the Bay Area?
Why should we believe the 49ers are getting 100 percent of this once-great NFL legend?
This is why the relationship works.
If there was ever someone who excelled at both evaluating talent and optimizing it through motivation and positive reinforcement, it's Jim Harbaugh.
Upon their first meeting, there was an agreement and mutual respect between Moss and Harbaugh. It just so happened that both parties had needs that matched up. The two felt confident in one another that they could deliver on each other's promises by buying in and agreeing to some simple give-and-take.
With this accord, Moss assumed a new role as a mentor/coach for a young receiving corps that could benefit from first-hand experience from one of the NFL's best ever. The receivers are in his ear, the coaches value his input, and systematically, there is a clear need for his services.
And, that leads us to a more important discussion, which is Moss' spiritual state.
The veteran receiver is a man of principle, but is also fairly sensitive. On a few occasions, it's caused Moss to be temperamental and public about his feelings.
Moss had one of his infamous press conferences in which he said he wasn't "appreciated" in New England, whether that meant a financial or literal pat on the back. In San Francisco, Moss is appreciated in every sense of the word. Harbaugh's tactics keep the players focused and enthusiastic about the opportunity each day brings.
Harbaugh knows which buttons to push on a player because he gets to know them.
The 49ers coach connects with players on a personal level, and his relationships are unique to each player. In the NFL where the business side of things so often rears its ugly head, Harbaugh has created an isolated utopia for players to put their nose to the grindstone and reach their full potential.
Moss has an opportunity to define his career with one final great season, capped off by a Super Bowl championship—his first ever. We are weeks away from the regular season, and time will tell, but it shouldn't surprise anyone if Randy Moss has an iconic year in San Francisco.
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