Super Bowl XLVII: What Role Will Randy Moss Play in Sunday's Big Game?

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Super Bowl XLVII: What Role Will Randy Moss Play in Sunday's Big Game?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Randy Moss appears in his second career Super Bowl.

Randy Moss will have an impact on the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII.

The level of his impact, however, is the next aspect to address.

The San Francisco 49ers aren't a pass-first offense, and Moss hasn't consistently contributed throughout the season. With just 28 receptions for 434 yards and three scores before the postseason, Moss has only caught five passes for 71 yards in two playoff games (no touchdowns).

So, will Moss impact enough to give the 49ers an edge over Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens?

Yes, because the 35-year-old receiver remains a competitive advantage courtesy of his natural talent.

 

Big-Play Opportunities

Moss can still stretch a defense.

That's been his greatest impact during a game, so expect Colin Kaepernick to challenge Baltimore a few times downfield. For one, these big-play opportunities will get set up in the Super Bowl.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Pats getting "Mossed" on Sunday night in Week 15.
San Francisco's running game will force the Ravens to honor the line of scrimmage, which increases vulnerability against the pass. That's when Moss hits a double move on the corner and splits a Cover 2 zone.

Or, he slips past the Cover 1 defender and gravitates toward the sideline to force the safety over the top. These are plays that will change the field position in favor of San Francisco. Moss simply needs to make two or three receptions downfield and force Baltimore on its heels.


Occupy Ed Reed

Everything these days appears to begin a phrase with the word "Occupy."

Well, Moss' primary job in Super Bowl XLVII will be to occupy Ed Reed. This will not happen, though, unless the veteran receiver makes a few plays downfield to catch Reed's attention (see aforementioned subsection).

If not, the Ravens will gladly continue isolating Moss man-to-man and focus on controlling the line of scrimmage. In short, Moss has no choice but to make some plays and force Reed to veer his coverage.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Reed with an end zone interception.
As the game progresses, the more Moss can keep Reed back deep and bracketing in Cover 2 or 3, that will open up everything underneath. Regardless of the ground game's production, that potential impact combined with Moss' presence will create an intermediate gap in Baltimore's defense.

The front seven focuses on the run, and the coverage gradually sinks back to take away the big play. With Kaepernick's arm strength and accuracy, Baltimore can't afford to take any chances.

The result is open space just behind the linebackers and right underneath the secondary. Moss keeping Reed back creates more yards after the catch for Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, as both are capable of defeating man coverage from the slot.

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Combine the elements of Frank Gore, Davis and Crabtree, and San Francisco finds itself flirting with the red zone quite often.


The Red Zone

Throughout the regular season, San Francisco struggled inside the red zone.

Ranking No. 15 in red-zone touchdown offense at 54.69 percent, the 49ers restricted themselves in scoring. On the contrary, the Ravens ranked No. 2 in opposing red-zone touchdown percentage (42.86).

Without question, San Francisco has greatly improved its red-zone offense in two postseason games. At the same time, Baltimore proved impervious against the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

The 49ers' difference from Indy and New England resides in the threat of Moss on jump-balls and drawing double-coverage.

The Denver Broncos scored inside the red zone against Baltimore because of a better No. 1 receiver in Demaryius Thomas. Moss isn't a No. 1 receiver, but he's the best red-zone threat the Ravens will have seen aside from A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.

And if the Ravens man him up, he'll easily capitalize.

If Baltimore brackets with two defenders, Kaepernick will look for the favorable mismatch elsewhere or San Francisco's ground game will take advantage. Either way, getting into scoring position is a win-win situation for the 49ers.

It's Moss helping San Francisco get consistently inside the red zone that's the ultimate impact.

 

Follow John Rozum on Twitter.

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