The 49ers are golden again

Randy+Moss+Joe+Staley 49ers

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There’s only a couple things I hate about Week One in Football’s Regular Season – 1) People, not fans, jumping off the bandwagon of teams and players so fast that they hurt their ankle more than Ryan Mathews gets hurt (I had to) and 2) Getting so overwhelmed and hyped up with a team that you make crazy proclamations about how good they are with 16 weeks left in the Season. Well…I’m about to hate myself because after Week One you have to crown the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC and potentially the NFL.

The San Francisco 49ers went on the road in Week One to face one of the best offenses in the NFL and arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, and dominated that game from start to finish. The score, 30-22, does not do justice as to how much the 49ers outplayed the Packers (It should have been 30-15 if it wasn’t for a bogus pick up of the flag on a blatant block in the back call, but don’t even get me started on this shitty refs). Alex Smith was the better quarterback on the field outplaying last years MVP, Frank Gore was his usual Week One self averaging seven yards a carry, Randy Moss made his triumphant return to Lambeau Field scoring his first Touchdown in two years, and the defense was, of course, dominant at every aspect. The winner of this game was going to be favored in the NFC and the 49ers, rightfully so, should be the team to beat.  Read more…

Lambeau, Schlambeau

Lambeau, Schlambeau.

Erasing a blemish that’s been oozing since 1990, the San Francisco 49ers ventured triumphantly onto the humid tundra of Green Bay and served notice to the rest of the NFC that the long and winding road that leads to funky New Orleans in February of 2013 still parades it’s way through smelly Candlestick Park.

The Beatles (whose final U.S. Concert was at the even-then smelly Candlestick Park) sang “All you need is Love”, but for Alex Smith the song goes “All you pretty much need is Wide Receivers.” To which I add: And Frank Gore, David Akers and that Defense, with a capital D. To further butcher the fine lyrics of the Lads from Liverpool “There’s nothing you can do that they can’t stop.”

If Punter Andy Lee doesn’t out-kick his coverage team in the 4th Quarter, and if Randall Cobb of Green Bay doesn’t run it back all the way for a TD, and if the sometimes pathetic fill-in officials don’t blow an obvious blocking in the back penalty on the return then the game is no where near as close as the score. It was 23-7 at the end of the 3rd, thanks in part to Kicker David Akers NFL record-tying 63 yard field goal just before halftime that received a beneficent bounce off the crossbar of the goal post.

The 49ers brought in Randy Moss to help bolster their anemic 2011 red-zone performance, and Moss did catch his first touchdown pass since 2010 in the first half, yet if 49er Quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t so fixated on Moss near the goal line in the 3rd Quarter, he might have taken advantage of Green Bay’s blown defensive coverage and found Michael Crabtree all alone in the corner of the end zone. I believe Green Bay ended up with a Defensive End covering Crabtree. No matter, Smith hit Tight End Vernon Davis with a four yard throw for a TD, capping the 49ers red-zone efficiency at a nice round 100%. Besides, Green Bay played the gracious host and provided several other blown defensive coverages, most of which Smith was able to fully exploit. At one point, the ‘Niners ran off three straight 20 yard-plus plays.

Smith looks different this year. He seems to have shaken off the 49ers flirting with Peyton Manning and re-embraced Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. There was nothing he could do about all the offensive coordinators and head coaches and turmoil in the front office, but maybe he has learned how to be Alex Smith in time. He completed 76% of his passes, 15 to wide receivers, 3 to TE Vernon Davis, and only 2 to running backs. His 20 of 26 day with 2 TD’s and 0 interceptions added up to a quarterback rating of 125.6, which is just below Peyton Manning and above Tom Brady. More importantly, Smith led the 49ers to a crucial 4th quarter score after Cobb’s electric punt return brought the Green Bay crowd back from wherever they had gone to be quiet together.

Frank Gore looked good, with over a hundred yards and a 7 yard-per-carry average. Kendall Hunter proved an able back-up, taking 9 carries and averaging 4.6 yards per-carry. The offensive line is big and fast and has had a year to gel. Harbaugh is inspired, and obviously has the attention of his team. Yes, it’s a long season, but Harbaugh, Smith, Gore and Willis may be the new Fab Four: “Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy.”

Which Randy Moss will the Packers face on Sunday?

Randy Moss

The Packers defense doesn’t know what to expect from Randy Moss, but they know what they don’t want him to do.

“That’s what makes the game that much fun,” cornerback Tramon Williams said, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “People want to come in and see the old Randy Moss. They want to see the guy who goes up the field and makes great catches over guys and that’s the mystery of it.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get. You don’t know if you’re going to get that or if you’re going to get a different Randy.”

The mystery is reasonable. The 49ers have had only glowing reports, but it’s hard to know what he’s got left for sure until you see it in a regular season game.

In the past, he’s played some of his best games against the Packers.

He’s played 14 games against the Packers, with 1,273 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

Then again, he’s 35, and all but one of those games were eight years ago.

The one in particular keeps coming back to mind, the January, 2005 game in which he faux-mooned the crowd. Read more…


NFC West: Game changers

Randy Moss Sings Autographs On The First Day Of Training CampJoin us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

San Francisco 49ers – I am going to go out on a limb here, and call #84 our Game Changer for the 49ers in 2012.  I realize that this may be a pipe dream, but when properly motivated, Randy Moss has proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Yes he is 35 years old and it has been two seasons since his last productive season, but he is still Randy Moss.  All the reports out of San Francisco indicate the Moss is in excellent shape and that he can still stretch the field with his speed and acrobatic grabs.  Yes, I realize Alex Smith is still the quarterback out there, but I expect Randy Moss to have a very significant impact on a previously non-existent Niners’ passing attack.Seattle Seahawks –  I am probably in the minority here, but I actually think Pete Carroll is doing a better than expected job in Seattle.  I don’t understand some of the personnel decisions that the team has made, particularly regarding the quarterback situation, but overall this team is starting to become a solid group of physical football players.  So it may be some surprise that I would pick one of the smallest players on this team to be the most impactful player.  Yet I think Earl Thomas will continue to develop into an elite safety, showing the reason he was a first round draft choice.  Thomas is a ball-hawking safety with great range, but he is also a physical presence despite his smallish frame.  I expect Thomas to play at an All-Pro level in 2012 as a turnover generating catalyst in an under-rated Seahawks’ defense. Read more…

Randy Moss talks for the first time since signing with Niners

Randy Moss Sings Autographs On The First Day Of Training Camp


San Francisco 49ers receiver Randy Moss did a lot of talking on UStream after he decided to return to the NFL and before he found a team. Since finding a team, he hasn’t done much talking.

On Friday at training camp, he did.

“These guys here love to work, they love to compete and they know just by me signing here it’s just something that me being around a great group of guys [who are] young and enthusiastic makes me feel young, too,” Moss said in comments broadcast on ESPN’s NFL Live. “The love that I have for the game of football is gonna always be in me and I just wanna play football and that’s just really being here and Coach Harbaugh and this organization accepting me and bringing me here was just something hopefully I can give something back in return and that’s with my play and my presence out on and off the field.”

Also on Friday, coach Jim Harbaugh continued with the gushing that has emanated from multiple members of the organization throughout the offseason.

“The funnest part is out on the practice field,” Harbaugh said. “I get some joy being around Randy Moss out there. He’s got a knack for saying the right thing at the right time. The right joke at the right time.”  Read More…

Randy Moss the top receiver for the 49ers?

Randy Moss

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh may think that Michael Crabtree has the best hands Harbaugh has ever seen, but when the rest of the package is considered another receiver lands higher than Crabtree on the team’s current pecking order.

Rich Gannon of Sirius XM NFL Radio says that Harbaugh claims Moss is the team’s “best receiver right now,” according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

And I’m not sufficiently diabolical to doubt Harbaugh’s honesty on that point.

Gannon also shared a communication Harbaugh had with Moss, before Moss became a member of the 49ers in March.

“At the end of the meeting, Randy turned to Jim Harbaugh and said, ‘Coach, what do you want me to do, what can I do for you?’” Gannon said.  “And Jim looked at him and said, ‘For starters I’d like you to sit in the front row of my meetings.’

“He said by doing that it’s brought guys like Crabtree, who’d hang out in the back, and some of these other young guys, now they’re sitting up front with Randy Moss.  They don’t have the hoodies on anymore.  They’re alert.  They’re paying attention.  Randy’s taking notes.  Every meeting that coach has had, Randy Moss has been sitting in the front row.” Read more here…

The ‘Old Moss’ has arrived in San Francisco

Randy MossAP

Randy Moss has had so many iterations and incarnations that it’s never quite clear whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the “old Moss” to make an appearance.  For the 49ers, it looks like a good thing. “He still looks the same,” safety Donte Whitner said after Thursday’s pads-and-helmets-free practice, via the Associated Press.  “He never, ever since he’s been playing football has looked like he’s been running fast.  But he’s a long strider, and when you actually run against him, he’s really running really fast.  He’s running the same as he’s always run.  His body looks like a younger Randy Moss, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do on the football field.” Read more here…