Randy Moss: 49ers Must Limit Expectations for Former Superstar WR

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

August 26 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss (84) on his sidelines during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. The 49ers defeated the Broncos 29-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Although Randy Moss has seemingly made a concerted effort to fit in with the San Francisco 49ers after spending a season away from the NFL, the team shouldn't place high expectations on the once-dominant wide receiver.

While fellow former diva wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson were released from their respective teams during the preseason, all has remained quiet on the Moss front. It's certainly a step in the right direction.

That said, he's three years removed from his last productive season when he racked up 83 catches for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns with the New England Patriots. It's unlikely he'll be able to find that type of form again at age 35.

Moss has barely made an impact during the preseason slate with just three catches for 24 yards, all coming in the same game against the Houston Texans. He's only received limited playing time, but the production is a sign he isn't the force he was in the past.

The 49ers made a few other additions to the receiving corps during the offseason in an attempt to help Alex Smith continue his development, which finally started to pick up last year. Mario Manningham was signed and the team drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round.

When you factor in a healthy Michael Crabtree and an improving Kyle Williams, the 49ers suddenly have a logjam at the receiver position after lacking depth in recent seasons.

Exactly how much Moss will play once the regular season begins remains unknown, as does his level of chemistry with Alex Smith since they haven't had much game action with each other. So the team, and 49ers fans, shouldn't expect him to completely revolutionize the offense.

San Francisco will still rely on a steady running game, which has been upgraded through a few additions as well, and its defense to do most of the heavy lifting throughout the season. The passing game should just provide some balance.

Moss should be able to provide the team with a solid red zone target, but beyond that nobody knows. He hasn't shown enough in the preseason to make any bold predictions about a huge bounce-back year.

As always, it comes down to expectations. As long as the team's coaching staff and fans aren't expecting him to become a game-changing player again, his contributions should help the 49ers have another successful season.

The passing game should be much better no matter how much he chips in, so what he provides the team with is just an added bonus.