Every year in the offseason, front offices for NFL teams spend countless hours trying to figure out what needs their teams have and what players they can add at those positions to make their teams better. Most teams fail miserably in this task and rarely add just the right pieces to make their team better. The problem is, the majority of teams are more than one player or one position away from the Super Bowl or at least being contenders. At the very least most teams need to fill 3-5 positions just to contend in their own division (don’t believe me? Look at the Vikings, Seahawks, Colts, Dolphins, and every other team who finished last in their division).
Where the 49ers organization differs in this regard is that they were one player/position away from the Super Bowl. Last year, statistically the 49ers were dead last in most receiving categories when it comes to actual wideouts (not TE’s) and at no time was our lack of depth at WR more apparent than in the NFC Championship game where one wide receiver caught one pass for 10 yards. Sure, the Niners have Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree, and before he got hurt Josh Morgan seemed to be on his way to a breakout year, but if one were to look objectively at it, Davis is a tight end (albeit probably one of the best in the game today) and Crabtree is an attitude adjustment/mentor/smack to the head away from being good still. So what happened was the New York Giants saw a weakness and exploited it. They saw a lack of anything relevant at WR and made the 49ers pay for it. That’s why they won the Super Bowl. When a team exploits your weakness so blatantly and does it in such a commanding fashion, you have no choice but to address that weakness in the offseason in a big, big way.
So by now, it is widely known that the 49ers have added two big players at the Wide Receiver position in the 2012 offseason. Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have joined the Niners organization and this writer couldn’t be happier. The addition of these two players accomplishes three main things for the 49ers in my opinion:
- The first thing is that it adds a veteran presence in Randy Moss. I know, I know, it’s Randy Moss, he has poisoned the last few teams he was on and barely made an impact, he wasn’t even in the league last year for crying out loud. To the detractors I have this to say… c’mon man, it’s Randy Moss! He is at or near the top in most receiving categories and that says a lot. He is hungry for a ring because he sees that window closing. Let’s be honest, the old Randy is not coming back, we all know that. It would be nice for him to resurrect his career and shatter some records and lead the Niners to the promised land, but I highly doubt it. What he will do his play his role, have a good attitude, give 100% on and off the field, and help the young receivers to become better. He will do all these things because of the fact that the 49ers had to have had a conversation with him about how this is his last chance to succeed, his last chance to get that ring, his last chance for a, “Super Bowl Homeboy.” Knowing this and knowing that the 49ers can cut him at any second (he only signed a one year deal) will keep the Super Freak in line.
- Secondly, the 49ers have added Mario Manningham, a player they saw twice last year and who had big games against them both times and also a big game and an even bigger catch in the Super Bowl. Mario can be a long term solution at WR. In his first four seasons he has played in an offense were he is often the second or third option and averaged 40 receptions, 600 yards, and 4 TD’s a year. Now, I know that those numbers are not eye popping but he is not on this team to catch 100 balls for 1,800 yards, and 20 TD’s every year. He is here to add depth at first and then learn and grow under the tutelage of the 49ers coaching staff and most importantly to do what he has done for the Giants in the past, come up big in the postseason. I am not suggesting that Manningham’s role will be that like it was in New York, I believe that he is going to shine in San Francisco. I think that over the next 7-9 years, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree can become the next great tandem of wideouts, the have the talent and potential to become the next Torry Holt/Isaac Bruce, the next Wayne/Harrison, the next Rice/Taylor (okay maybe not the last one).
- The third and final thing these moves does is boost the confidence of QB Alex Smith. I know the 49ers went after Peyton Manning but come on, unless your quarterback’s name is Brady, Brees, or Rodgers, you pursue Peyton. I think it is a good thing the 49ers missed out on Peyton, the team does not need a “stop gap” QB for the next two years or maybe three. We are trying to build a dynasty here, and it is my opinion that Alex Smith is the quarterback that can do that. He has a very high upside and I think now the 49ers coaching staff and front office see that. Bringing in these two free agent wide receivers boosts the confidence of an already confident quarterback. It also boost the confidence and morale of the entire team.
Bottom line is this. it always helps a team dynamic when the front office/coaching staff recognizes the need for a position and fills it. In every way, these moves in this offseason make the 49ers Super Bowl contenders, and dare I say, Super Bowl favorites.
Thanks for reading and as always feel free to comment!