The 49ers needed to do something at the position. They probably still do. But there's at least an outside chance Moss will help them open up the passing game and threaten opponents down the field. There was less chance of that happening without Moss on the roster.
San Francisco's low-risk investment in Braylon Edwards did not work out last season. Edwards suffered knee and shoulder injuries. He appeared to become frustrated. The 49ers cut him late in the season even though they needed manpower at the position. Moss is the new Edwards, a big-name receiver trying to revive his career on the cheap. Edwards was a strong vertical threat before joining the 49ers, but that aspect of his game never materialized in San Francisco. The 49ers' yards-per-catch were down across the board. That changed in the playoffs when Vernon Davis got going. Can Moss provide something similar, even in small doses? Davis is much younger and more athletic than Moss at this point.
What will Moss offer in the locker room? How will he mesh with Michael Crabtree? The 49ers were generally pleased with Crabtree last season. They loved the way he blocked. They appreciated the plays he made in crucial moments, including against Cincinnati (negated by a bad officiating call) and at Seattle (clutch catch down the sideline). There's still a sense from the outside that Crabtree hasn't fully bought into what the team is doing, as reflected by some of his comments and, in the past, his lack of participation in various offseason practices. Those perceptions might not line up with how coach Jim Harbaugh views Crabtree, however.
A one-year contract gives Harbaugh and the organization all the leverage. The 49ers can release Moss at any time. That makes this signing a low-risk proposition. Skepticism should prevail until Moss proves he can be more effective than he was while bouncing from team to team to team during a lackluster 2010 season. He's 35 years old and has been out of the game for a year. We're more likely to see an old Moss than the Moss of old, and the nature of the 49ers' offense wouldn't seem to facilitate downfield strikes.
Assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator Brad Seely was with Moss in New England. His presence provided the 49ers with an honest first-hand assessment of what Moss might offer. Then again, Moss was catching passes from Tom Brady in New England. How will he react with Alex Smith as his likely quarterback?
Minicamps and training camp just became more interesting for the 49ers. Moss will be the center of attention. I'm looking forward to seeing him match up against Arizona's Patrick Peterson and the big, aggressive corners in Seattle.
Your thoughts on Moss to San Francisco? Fire away.