NFC North will see Randy Moss in 2012

Receiver Randy Moss' late-night contract agreement with the San Francisco 49ers puts him on track for one more tour through the NFC North. Because the 2012 schedule matches us up against NFC West teams, Moss and the 49ers will play at the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings while hosting the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

When Moss first announced he would come out of retirement, we spelled out a series of criteria necessary for any team serious about signing him. The 49ers have most of them. They have a strong and established coaching staff led by Jim Harbaugh, along with and an assistant head coach/special teams in Brad Seely who has personal experience with Moss during their time with the New England Patriots. You wonder if quarterback Alex Smith has the arm strength and mental toughness to handle Moss, but rare is a team that has all of its Moss-related bases covered.

Having covered Moss at various points in his career, I wish the 49ers — and especially Harbaugh — the best of luck. It hasn't ended well for Moss at any of his previous five NFL stops, and it was interesting that CSNBayarea.com columnist Ray Ratto suggested Harbaugh is strong-minded enough to pull the plug on Moss if necessary. That's the easy part. Coaxing a positive combination of production and relative harmony, while living with the inevitable challenges to authority, is the hard part.

It isn't a good sign that Moss blamed the "world-wide media" for giving him "a bad rap" during a conference call with Bay Area reporters Monday night. There is no doubt that Moss has had plenty of bad things written about him, almost all of which he earned through his pathologically contrarian behavior. Any true change in Moss' attitude must start with ownership of his shortcomings.

But with that said, we should consider ourselves fortunate that the NFC West and NFC North will match up in 2012. Moss is one of the best receivers in the history of the game, and we'll get at least one more chance to see him play. He is nothing if not entertaining.