Question: Has Randy Moss added anything significant to the 49ers offense?

Through four games he has 8 catches, one TD. He has been the target of passes 12 times. None of this is astonishing.

Larger question: Is the 49ers’ offense appreciably better this season than last?

Remember, the Niners got Moss and Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham so they would add explosion to their offense.

Have you seen explosions?

The Niners got first and second-round draft picks they don’t use. I guess they thought they had enough explosion already?

Does any of this trouble you as the season moves on?



Be Sociable, Share!



  1. Brandon Conway

    I think Harbaugh’s mindset is very different than the current Green Bay/New Orleans/etc. mindset when it comes to offense. He ran the ball a lot at Stanford, and he’s running a lot here.

    In short, the passing game may have occasional new wrinkles, but anyone expecting an aerial explosion is gonna be kept waiting a looooooooong time. No matter who the QB is. (And if Kaepernick was starting the team would be throwing even less since Kaepernick would have more designed runs than Smith).

    October 2nd, 2012 12:00 pm

  2. mbabco

    Manningham’s had some nice receptions. I hope that will continue. After 4 games though, we surely haven’t seen very much new explosiveness. They do seem to be converting more 3rd downs.

    October 2nd, 2012 12:01 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    Brandon Conway, You make a good point. Question: Then why get Moss and Manningham and use a first round pick for a wideout?

    October 2nd, 2012 12:07 pm

  4. BerkeleyWineGuy

    Maybe the team is in a position to take the macro view instead of the micro?

    October 2nd, 2012 12:32 pm

  5. NinersFan

    Here’s my question for you if you don’t like the Niners using their first round pick on a WR who doesn’t get any time right now – what position could the 49ers have drafted where that player would currently be starting or getting significant time?

    I can’t think of a single one….maybe a nickel back, but even that’s highly doubtful

    October 2nd, 2012 12:52 pm

  6. CheckYourStats

    Anyone thinking they signed Randy Moss to be an 80 catch, 1,000 yard, 12 TD guy…well…they were dreaming. Moss was used in this past game exactly how they wanted to use him, to keep the defense honest. Half of Moss’ routes are streaks, and I have yet to see the defense put less than two players on him each time he runs one. Moss may finish the year with 35 catches for 400 yards and 4 TD’s, and you know what? Considering how cheap we got him, how few snaps he plays, and how old he is…I’ll gladly take it.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:00 pm

  7. Michael

    Question: Then why get Moss and Manningham and use a first round pick for a wideout?

    Can you name another position of need? Where else could someone have taken a starting spot? I look at this roster and everyone is playing well. Welcome to a GREAT problem. A wealth of riches. Manningham, Jenkins, and LaMike will be contributing in 2013 and beyond. That is what’s great about Baalke. He is building a deep deep bench for the long haul 3-5 year plan.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:00 pm

  8. Larry Rowe

    I believe we see it this weekend. Every week we have a game plan that is completly different than the week before. I think the run heavy game last week was to confuse our up coming teams and to keep them guessing. Randy moss was never going to be a real factor after missing a whole year. But he will have his big games this year. AS is going to be a SUperbowl Champion. CK he will be like Vick and all the other Electrifying QBs. I hit season and then destroyed for the rest of his career unless he learns how to be a pocket passer. I trust in JH and AS. This is a great season so far. Roll on 49ers

    October 2nd, 2012 1:01 pm

  9. Gary

    I like the slant routes to Crabtree and the one-on-one isolation tosses to Vernon Davis. Even noticed Kyle Williams lining up and Ted Ginn with a catch against NYJ. Manningham a vast improvement over the disastrous Braylon Edwards pickup of last year.

    Don’t see Moss breaking out of the mold Greg Roman has set, but the NFL is about adjustments. Maybe Harbaugh shreds the next weak pass defense the Niners go against with an aerial assault.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:13 pm

  10. Michael

    … and let’s not forget Alex went down field against the Jets more than he has against any team this season. He went down field – throws of 20 or more yards – seven times against the Jets’. That’s 7/21 total passes or exactly 1/3 of his throws. Two passes were complete, three were incomplete, one drew a pass-interference penalty and one perhaps should have been caught for what would have been a touchdown (off MM’s Hand). So they plays were called to be more “explosive”.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:16 pm

  11. JayT

    Manningham looks pretty explosive, so I’m excited to have him on the team for sure. He’s definitely the go-to guy for those reverses. I’d like to see him targeted even more.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:25 pm

  12. gary

    No, the offense is not apparently superior to last year’s. 3rd down remains a real problem.
    Red zone attempts for a TD remain a problem.
    Dropped passes remain a problem. Pass protection on obvious passing downs remains a problem.
    Zero drafted players from 2012 playing Sunday
    is also a problem.
    But they are 3 and 1.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:28 pm

  13. helga fels

    Randy Moss is troubling because if he is active for a game, then A.J. Jenkins is not. And Jenkins was the only wideout who consistently stretched the field in the exhibition season. Also, on some high throws, Moss made perfunctory attempts at leaping, as if he doesn’t want to and/or can’t stretch for the ball

    October 2nd, 2012 1:41 pm

  14. helga fels

    I can see that they drafted Jenkins because Randy Moss will probably be gone next season (if he lasts that long) and Crabtree will want a ton of money and he isn’t worth it.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:46 pm

  15. Stan

    If CK were starting I think you would see more passing..on the run and deeper down field then Alex does on a straight back drop.
    Worst cast this year?..the team rolls…and Alex has THE bad game. It has that feeling already. Its what he does and expect more of it.
    His first five or six years meant something.

    October 2nd, 2012 1:47 pm

  16. Stan

    Adversity or not..

    October 2nd, 2012 1:47 pm

  17. Tiburon Dave


    The offense is not any better than last season…we saw that in Minnesota when they needed to pick up the D and couldn’t do it…

    Randy Moss appears to be here to keep the safeties back…

    He keeps 8 out of the box, helps the running game and allows Crabtree to work with single coverage on 8-10 yard routes…

    Unfortunately, it also makes life tougher for Vernon Davis because he gets jammed by a linebacker and the safety is out 10 yards waiting for him.

    It’s not a bad strategy since the 49ers are only going to see three more quarterbacks who could MAYBE give the D trouble in Eli, Brees & Brady…then they can coast until they see Houston in the Super Bowl.

    It’s not much fun, but as long as Moss is a happy check cashing decoy, it’s probably winning football…

    October 2nd, 2012 2:05 pm

  18. Brandon Conway

    “Then why get Moss and Manningham and use a first round pick for a wideout?”

    Well, regardless of how the ball distribution will go, it was plainly clear that their WR talent was wanting last year. Manningham has been a good signing so far, as has Moss in a minimal role. I expect both to have some increase in workload in future games where the coaches believe they can exploit certain matchups.

    Jenkins will get his turn eventually, just probably not this year with the improved depth above him.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:08 pm

  19. NeverWrong

    I haven’t a clue and can’t even guess from what I’ve seen on the field, regarding your question. But I surely would like to see Randy Moss get the ball more. And I believe a lot of other fans would, too, in 49er Land and Beyond. We still have plenty of games for the explosion to happen, although plenty of us would like to see it happen right away and keep happening every game through to the Super Bowl victory. Moss is great and I hope Alex won’t be kicking himself when he’s an old man, regretting that he didn’t heave the ball more to 84.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:22 pm

  20. Mark M

    You are right to prod into this area as it appears as though this “improvement” has not happened at all despite the additions. Alex is the chief limiting factor of course, as always. Dink pass, dink pass, dink pass = poor 3rd down and red zone conversion, but a GREAT QBR…..whoooopppeeeeeee!!!! Yet I look at Tony Romo, whom I generally think of as a very talented QB, throw 5 picks because his team can’t run and his defense has holes in it. I realize that I’d rather take the overall team balance and smart conservative offense that we have than have a gunslinger of a QB throwing the ball all over the place in an attempt to score quickly. That was an eye opener for me last night watching that debacle. It is a passing league but you can’t forget the other aspects entirely, as Dallas appears to have done, and still hope to win consistently.

    I’ve come to appreciate Harbaugh more and more as a result of this. But can we get to the big show with Alex? Hmmmmmmmmm…..I don’t think so. At some point, it will bite them just as it did last year against the Giants. And this 49er team appears to be a duplicate of last year’s squad in terms of strategy and strengths. I say close but no cigar…. again.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:31 pm

  21. GregC

    In the Minn game Moss was thrown to a few times, one a sure touchdown, but Alex Smith missed him in both cases. As long as Alex has accuracy issues, we won’t see the offensive passing attack at its full capacity.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:38 pm

  22. JB

    I think there’s a couple things going on…

    The first is that while the team has added talent to the offensive side of the ball, it still takes time to gel. I think as the season goes on, we’ll see more from the passing game because the creativity shown in the run game will force teams to continually adjust to what SF is doing. We’re only 4 weeks in. There is an art and creativity to what the Niners are doing in the run game, it’s just not as flashy as long pass plays.

    Second, there’s a bit of game theory in action here too. To use a poker analogy, if the table is playing tight, you loosen up and if it’s loose you tighten up. In an era of fast and loose offense and largely mediocre defensive play, we’re seeing SF do the opposite. Some of this might be out of necessity based on personnel, but I think some of it is also by design.

    The first 4 games showed that there are plenty of positives and some areas of improvement for the balance of the season. I expect to see this team hitting on all cylinders by December.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:41 pm

  23. Joe H

    What Moss does to a defense has not been indicated by what I can see from my TV set.

    The camera is mostly focused on the ball and the rec’vrs move off the screen and I can’t see if Moss is being double-teamed, or if he is pulling the safety as the ball is going the opposite field direction. Those intricacies are lost from the TV perspective.

    Moss did indeed catch 1 TD, the first TD for the 49ers of the season. That was also inside the 20 red zone, another bogey-man that haunted the 49ers offense.

    Other than that Kaepernick toss to Moss in the endzone where he was triple covered, did he get much mention. So I’m simply ignorant of his impact on the various defensive schemes coming at the 49ers.

    There is quite possibly another reason. Several times during the game, A.Smith calls a “Kill”, then goes to play #2. Did the original play call for a pass to Moss? Was the defense getting ready to double team him? I don’t know. He has certainly brought a level of maturity, experience and professionalism to the the entire team, that invisible coach.

    Jerry Rice had to endure years of double-teaming and he still performed…but the beneficiaries of that were John Taylor and Brent Jones and Roger Craig. Anyone recall one of those guys catching a pass, or blocking downfield for Jerry?

    Last game, the 49ers spread the ball around a lot more than usual. Even Vernon Davis didn’t get the ball for quite a while. Meanwhile, Gore and Co. pounded yard after yard, eating the clock.

    It has always struck me that the real pros, those with smarts, maturity and athleticism, are the most polite and unassuming in public.

    I don’t see any problem here.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:49 pm

  24. CohnZohn

    NinersFan, How about using the first pick to draft a WR who actually does play?

    October 2nd, 2012 2:53 pm

  25. JB

    They weren’t going to draft anybody in that spot who would win playing time over someone on the current roster, regardless of position.

    October 2nd, 2012 2:56 pm

  26. lance w

    Lowell – bigger question for you – why don’t you write about the Oakland A’s. I remember you talking trash about the team and Bean at the beginning of the season and now you walk away?

    October 2nd, 2012 3:58 pm

  27. KauaiRobert

    Who cares?!
    They’re 3-1 and will most likely make the Playoffs.
    Using words like ‘explosion’ is exactly what makes certain fans disappointed with Moss’ production thus far.
    I don’t recall Harbaugh or Baalke using the word ‘explosion’ when they signed him.
    People’s elevated expectations are the problem…not Moss or the 49ers’ use of him.
    And let’s also remember that they’re only 4 games in…give ‘em time.

    October 2nd, 2012 4:41 pm

  28. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell I am troubled like you with the lack of use of Jenkins who is our first round draft pick. As far as Moss goes he’s just last years Edwards. Now Manningham he is a different story he is this years Marco Scutero, a great pickup who didn’t break the bank. But none of this matters to coach Harbaugh because he knows where he has to improve and its not at the wide receiver position. Lowell last year you must of written at least 10 columns about how Harbaugh is so crazy egotistical because he keeps saying, “We’ll be fine with Smith as our quarterback.” Like a great coach he did what he had to do last year and propped up Smith to succeed because he had no other choice. But this year is different as he has his own guy to step in. Once Kap takes the reigns watch the game plan change to lots of deep passing with a great QB who keeps the defense in check because they have to guard against a great mobil improvising quarterback.

    October 2nd, 2012 5:13 pm

  29. mbabco

    Lowell – As you look at the other wide receivers who were available at the time the 49ers drafted Jennings, who could they have picked that would be playing right now?

    October 2nd, 2012 5:17 pm

  30. Jim

    I didn’t read everyone, but checkyoustats and I have a similar thought. Perhaps Moss will be used as a primary target later in the season after everyone has seen him as an decoy. Let him sweep the field clean for an underneath route… he gets to run and not get hit and still be part of the yardage. Not bad for your retirement year.

    October 2nd, 2012 7:03 pm

  31. Stan

    I’ve written some things here..and deleted the whole thing twice. I guess my best for this is..At least your not swallowing the Harbaugh worship.

    October 2nd, 2012 7:49 pm

  32. Loneraider78

    Sometimes having too many mouths to feed doesn’t work out.
    I did’t think they needed Jacobs. They would be fine with just Gore, Hunter, James and Dixon. Manningham was a nice pull, and they really have no use for Moss because Smith doesn’t fit his specialty.

    October 2nd, 2012 8:31 pm

  33. Brady

    Lowell, do you see any WR in the draft taken after Jenkins that would crack a rotation of Moss, Crabtree, Manningham, Ginn and Williams, on a run first team?

    Just look at the impact Stephen Hill is having on a pathetic Jets WR corp – not much. Or the impact Reuben Randle is having on a Giants WR corps that is only 2 deep – nada.

    October 2nd, 2012 8:44 pm

  34. CohnZohn

    lance w, I haven’t walked away. I just got back from New York. Bob Padecky is covering the A’s in the playoffs and I’ve been assigned the Giants. I certainly was wrong about the A’s and am delighted to admit that and delighted they are in the playoffs. Lots of people were wrong about the A’s. That’s why their story is so heartwarming.

    October 2nd, 2012 8:50 pm

  35. Gopal

    Perhaps they made a mistake drafting for need instead of upside?

    As for moss, i think he’s doing what they acquired him to do, which is stretch the defense vertically, which helps open room for the running game up front.

    October 2nd, 2012 10:38 pm

  36. lance w

    Thanks for the response Lowell. I have been waiting for you to write a humble article on the A’s. I know you weren’t a fan of ‘Moneyball’ but this might be the season for Part 2.

    October 2nd, 2012 11:24 pm

  37. B-Rad

    WR’s taken in the first 2 rounds of 2012 draft:

    NAME………………………….DRAFT POS…….RECEPS………YARDS…………TDS

    Justin Blackmon……………….5…………………10…………….79……………..0
    Michael Floyd………………….11…………………5……………..43……………..1
    Kendall Wright…………………20……………….18……………148…………….2
    A J JENKINS……………………..30………………INACTIVE………………………..

    Brian Quick……………………..33………………..1………………19……………0
    Coby Fleener (TE)……………..34………………..8………………98……………0
    Stephen Hill…………………….43………………..5………………89……………2
    Alshon Jeffrey………………….45……………….12…………….164…………..1
    Ryan Broyles……………………54………………..0………………..0……………0
    Rueben Randle…………………63……………….1…………………4……………0

    (Lowell, I’ve included your choice, TE Coby Fleener)

    October 3rd, 2012 9:10 am

  38. B-Rad

    By the way, my wife spends dozens of hours pouring through her 4 predraft
    magazines and wanted the Niners to draft Kendall Wright, but she, correctly,
    thought he would likely not be available to the Niners.

    I think that A J is a taller, faster version of KW but hasn’t yet developed
    the play-making skills or the strength of KW. He has those skills,
    but is a couple years behind in the development process. I hope he is
    also hitting the weight room. I do think that both he and LaMichael
    were great picks.

    (Wasn’t it Al Davis who said “Who needs the first two round
    draft picks anyway?”)

    October 3rd, 2012 9:49 am

  39. Alex

    Alex won’t throw WRs the ball. This is something we’ve known for years.

    However, people will continue to say it’s because Harbaugh doesn’t want him taking chances, or throwing to WRs, which is bunk.

    October 3rd, 2012 9:56 am

  40. Hank

    Maybe if Alex Smith can ever learn to pump-fake and look off opposing defenders we might start seeing explosion. Slants are always tackled immediately because he stares down receivers and deep double moves rarely work because he doesn’t know how to pump-fake. The only time a deep pass works is when a DB underestimates Vernon’s speed or an LB is isolated on a faster guy. Alex has got to go…

    October 3rd, 2012 9:59 am

  41. martin

    The problem is that the 9ers have no one to throw them the ball. Harbaugh obviously does not trust AS (see the Peyton saga) to be that guy. Alex keeps care of the ball just fine but his passes are widely inaccurate, he has no touch (what is his completion % on swing passes?) and. once he decide to make his move to escape the pocket he runs for his life while not lokng down the field to make a play. I am pretty sure that if Harbaugh had the right guy at QB the offense would open up. That being said the object of the came is to win and the NFL is results not gaudy passing stats.

    October 3rd, 2012 10:09 am

  42. Kommon Senze

    Here is the 49ers offense through 4 games this season.

    1385 total yds (346.25 per game)
    717 yds passing (179.25 per game)
    668 yds rushing (167.00 per game)
    249 total plays (5.6 yds per play)
    114 pass plays (5.7 net yds per play)
    135 run plays (5.6 net yds per play)
    91 1st downs (22.75 per game)
    14/42 3rd down (33.4% per game)
    104 pts (26.0 per game)

    And here are the 49ers numbers through all of last year:

    4974 total yds (310.88 per game)
    2930 yds passing (183.13 per game)
    2044 yds rushing (127.75 per game)
    993 total plays (5.0 yds per play)
    451 pass plays (5.9 net yds per play)
    498 run plays (4.1 net yds per play)
    282 1st downs (17.63 per game)
    65/221 3rd down (29.4% per game)
    380 pts (23.75 per game)

    Based on the early results, I think that it’s fair to say the offense is definitely better as a whole, but it’s not the passing game that’s improved. It’s the running game that has, at this point, added to the offense. The passing game looks very similar overall to last year, with one marked area of improvement.

    Although Alex Smith is not passing for more yards, he is completing a higher percentage of his passes (67.3% this year vs. 61.3%). I do think the threat of the WR corps this year has played a part in the improved offense. I think it was always unrealistic to think the offense would suddenly become an aerial assault over night, and the Minnesota game demonstrated the challenges this offense has trying to quick strike when they are behind. But, it’s effective and I do think that Roman is creative enough to find ways to get all the WR more involved as the opportunities present themselves.

    October 3rd, 2012 10:57 am

  43. Peggy

    Hey, what happened to baseball?????
    Lets hear from you on the Giants and those A’s!
    Should Zito be in the playoff lineup? Yes. Timmy? maybe not

    October 3rd, 2012 11:01 am

  44. Randy

    Is it the receivers or the quarterback? The bigger question is whether Alex is regressing? Our QB play let the Jets remain in the game through the first half. Didn’t Manningham say he and Alex are not on the same page. Crabtree says Alex just has to trust his receivers. Are these thinly-veiled criticisms? Alex is a great person, but he may be no better than a slightly above average QB on an otherwise great SB caliber team. Colin might be your starting QB next year.

    October 3rd, 2012 11:20 am

  45. Dennis

    The 49ers have only been behind in a game once all season and they have a more difficult schedule. How can you even ask that question? Of course the offense is better.

    October 3rd, 2012 2:32 pm

  46. Johnc

    You ask a good question , Lowell. I think the running game is a bit sharper than last year, but the passing attack has not improved. Randy Moss or the receiving corps are not the problem. The passing game is dink and dunk. You can do that for so long and the oppostion will adjust. I think Harbaugh is afraid to go deep at this point. Is it because he does not have confidence in Smith’s abilities to go deep or does he consider the deep pasing game a work in progress to be honed as the season progresses and which will be vital in the playoffs? I hope the answer is the latter.
    They better become a deeper threat if they want to get to and win a Super Bowl.

    October 4th, 2012 3:17 am

  47. Alex


    The 49ers as a team have faced harder TEAMS this year, but the defenses they’ve faced are all bottom of the barrel.

    They faced harder defenses to start 2011; and Alex’s stats are basically identical over the first 4 games this year to the first 4 games last year.

    Increased weapons and weaker pass defenses of opponents hasn’t help him.

    October 4th, 2012 10:16 am

  48. Dennis


    Actually, that is not totally true. NFL.com ranks the Vikings, Packers and Lions defense 8, 9, and 10. Now the Jets are at the bottom of the barrel and there could be an argument about the Lions defense, but the Vikings and Packers defenses are pretty good. I did consider that before I posted my earlier comment.

    October 4th, 2012 3:01 pm

Submit Your Comments


Required, will not be published