San Francisco 49ers  

 

Randy Moss is a perfect fit with Jim Harbaugh's Niners

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Randy Moss (left) will give Jim Harbaugh's offense the vertical threat San Francisco sorely lacked in 2011.

What probably impressed Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers brass more than anything before they signed Randy Moss to a one-year deal was talking football with him.

There's not one player or coach who's dealt with Moss who isn't impressed with his vast knowledge of the game, regardless of what they think about him personally. Moss is so aware and innovative in the film room that he could have a career as a coach after he's done playing, several former teammates have told me.

Though Harbaugh is already an established coach, talking Xs and Os is what he is about. He's perpetually in tune with the intricacies of play calling and the game itself. At a recent event, Harbaugh was viewing a tribute in his honor alongside his dad Jack, a long-time coach himself. But instead of admiring the play, a nifty touchdown run he made while quarterbacking Michigan, Jim instead called the play, the blocking scheme and his run read. Forget the 100,000 screaming fans in maize and blue in the background. The execution, Jim said, was brilliant.

Moss, like Harbaugh, is a Rubik's Cube master when it comes to that part of the game. But that's not the only thing the Niners like about the veteran wide receiver. At Monday's workout, Harbaugh was the one throwing to Moss. He clearly ran well enough for the 49ers to roll the dice on him.

Moss also was hungry enough to understand that he'd better link up with a team before free agency started and the market evolved without him. Witness New Orleans wide receiver Marques Colston signing a five-year extension Tuesday to remain with the New Orleans Saints, a team that also worked out Moss.

Moss will fit well in San Francisco. The locker room is one where equity is shared among 53 players and a coach who hates when credit is cast his way. Former Patriots teammate Alge Crumpler told me that when Moss is in an environment where players feel incorporated and the shared goal is working toward winning, then he's all-in.

That was the case in New England and currently is the case in San Francisco.

It also can't be overlooked that Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers played under one-year contracts in 2011 and had their best NFL seasons. Sure they were playing for their next deals, but in the process they bought into the culture and helped establish what's growing by The Bay.

The 49ers are trying to re-sign all three -- and Smith definitely will be back -- but if they can't then those players will claim to be better for what they went through with the 49ers, especially since that one season allowed them to enhance their appeal.

No, Smith is not Tom Brady. That doesn't mean Moss can't fit in. If he has a problem with Smith, then the 49ers will ditch Moss. The organization is far more aligned with Smith than Moss. Keep in mind, San Francisco was a play or two away from the Super Bowl without Moss. He knows this. He also knows that he has napalmed a lot of bridges in the NFL and a lot of teams won't want him in their locker room.

As positively magnetic as Moss can be, he can also be galvanizingly divisive and problematic. When we last saw him with the Patriots, Vikings and Titans in 2010, he wasn't the game-breaker he once was, either.

This is a low-risk, high-reward move. That's why it's a one-year deal and that's why San Francisco hopes to get a guy who can stretch the field, pull safeties out of Frank Gore's running lanes and allow tight end Vernon Davis to operate more freely underneath.

If San Francisco gets anything similar to what Moss used to be, it will be dangerous once again. The Niners would be able to diversify the offense enough to where it doesn't get too predictable. The defense will continue to give Smith and Co. good field position, so Moss won't always be needed to make huge gains in the passing game.

He's an option, nonetheless, and that by itself will make the 49ers better.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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