On Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, new addition Randy Moss made his regular season debut as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. As the game got underway, the first thing that onlookers noticed was that Moss did indeed have a limited role. Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter first reported that the Niners would be limiting the future Hall of Famer, but there was no confirmation from the organization.
Moss played only 21 of 67 possible offensive snaps (31%) versus the Packers, but was part of their total game plan nonetheless. When he finally first took the field, he ran a deep dig-route where quarterback Alex Smith put the ball right on him for a 20-yard gain.
No. 84 finished the day with four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown.
As the game kicked off, Alex Smith looked confident, executing this 49ers offense. Smith was able to make all the throws. Following the arrival of Moss, there was some speculation that this relationship could not work out for X, Y and Z reasons.
With a scoreless game, and the 49ers in striking distance - ah, yes, the dreaded red zone - Smith dropped back, pulled the trigger and hit a wide-open Randy Moss in the end zone for six.
The touchdown marked several things:
1) The 49ers first touchdown of the 2012 NFL season
2) Randy Moss' 154th career TD, making him No. 2 all-time behind Jerry Rice
3) The evolution of Alex Smith
4) A possible end to the offense's red-zone woes
The 14-yard touchdown strike came on a 2nd and 9. Smith came out of the shotgun, Moss lined up on the slot and Delanie Walker was motioned over.
Before the snap, the defensive secondary shifted and looked confused in their assignments. Smith hiked the ball; Moss ran behind the coverage and found the soft spot in the defense. This TD connection shook off a lot of the naysayers, as this new relationship appeared to work pre- and post-snap.
Moss was still flying around, dictating coverages and getting position on defensive backs. If the ball was catchable, he caught it -- if he needed to get open, he did. Moss might be good for one touchdown each game this year if they continue to scheme and game-plan where he's limited.
If the 49ers can manifest one score from Moss per game but preparing unique plays for him to be executed at certain downs and distances, the signing would prove to be well worth it. The Niners have plenty of playmakers, so if Moss is called on situationally and he can deliver consistently like this, it could help put San Francisco over the top offensively.
Remember, they were a stones throw away from the Super Bowl last season. A little extra juice on offense might just be the kick they need to get this thing done.