As another day passes and we near the NFL postseason, the question for the 49ers remains: will this team be hurting at wide receiver, yet again?
The Niners incurred some tough losses during the season, having lost pass-catchers Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams. Both were lost with their own season-ending injuries, and once again, the 49ers are in quite the predicament.
In 2011, they were faced with this problem and were forced to go to their practice squad for help. San Francisco did not fair very well with Joe Hastings and Brett Swain on the roster, but no one else was able to step up.
The tough loss at WR is the one of Manningham. Coming over from the Giants, Manningham signed a two-year deal with the 49ers and earned a starting role. Unfortunately for him, when Colin Kaepernick stepped in and the wide receivers were getting more looks, Manningham was unavailable.
This offseason, the 49ers also signed wide receiver Randy Moss to a one-year deal. The future Hall of Famers signed with the team, taking a hybrid player-coach role. But with injuries at the position, San Francisco will need Moss to salvage all he’s got left.
Moss, 35, now has a bigger role than imagined. He has become the starter opposite Michael Crabtree. And although he finished with 28 receptions for 434 and three touchdowns, the 49ers will really need him to come alive in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Jenkins and Davis have been non-factors with Kaepernick behind center. Jenkins has yet to record a catch, while the spotlight has shifted from Davis to Crabtree. San Francisco will need to open things up and that’s something Moss can help with.
This is not necessarily a burden for Moss, who is approaching the end of his playing career. After a 14-year career and multiple postseason appearances, including one Super Bowl, he is still seeking first championship ring.
This year he has shown his ability to run through defense, as well as his willingness to be a chain-mover and selfless blocker. While his ability as the league’s most notorious jump-ball receiver has not been evident, his high IQ, hands and ability after the catch has been present.
Moss can help this offense be productive in the postseason. And with all things considered, there should be a fire underneath him as the divisional round nears. He should want to help carry this offense and outright earn his ring. It would be the perfect way to end a very storied career.