49ers desperate enough to sign Moss

Randy Moss has reportedly signed a one-year, $2.5-million contract with the San Francisco 49ers....

Randy Moss has reportedly signed a one-year, $2.5-million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. (REUTERS)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

Captain Comeback wanted Major Moper? On first thought, it doesn't add up.

Jim Harbaugh, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, earned the former nickname as a gritty, blue-collar quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts in the mid-1990s.

Randy Moss deserved the latter sobriquet because of the way he behaved in his short stints in 2010 with the Pats, Vikings and Titans. He was unable to run his routes at full speed for any of them because he was always tripping over his sulking bottom lip.

Yet Harbaugh wanted Moss. And late Monday night, he got him.

That's when the Niners announced they'd signed Moss to a one-year contract, after Harbaugh himself had worked out Moss earlier in the day on the practice field -- throwing short, medium and long passes to the no-longer-retired Hall of Famer-to-be.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Moss signed a one-year, $2.5-million contract, with an additional $1.5 million available in performance incentives.

Are the 49ers that desperate for a defence-stretching deep threat? You bet they are.

The San Francisco passing game stunk last year -- truly. It ranked 29th out of 32 teams. The most quarterback Alex Smith threw for in any game was 278 yards, and 11 times he had fewer than 200 yards. In the NFC title game against the Giants, 49ers wideouts caught all of one ball, for three yards.

So, yeah, the Niners desperately needed a field-stretcher like Moss. But exactly like Moss?

Listen, the 6-foot-4 Moss evidently kept himself in great shape this past fall, as he sat out the season to (he said Monday) allow his dinged-up shoulder to fully heal. And his resume is as impressive as any NFL wide receiver in history not named Jerry Rice.

Only Rice had more touchdown catches than Moss' 153, or more 1,000-yard receiving seasons than Moss' 10. What's more, six times Moss eclipsed 1,300 yards in one season, seven times he was named to the Pro Bowl, and he holds the single-season record for touchdowns, too, with 23.

But his reputation as a locker-room troublemaker, a moper, and a me-first player always has sullied his eye-popping accomplishments. In a conference call with reporters late Monday, Moss brushed all that off as a "bad rep" that the "worldwide media" have stuck on him.

Moss was going to sign with somebody this year, that much was clear. He announced on his 35th birthday a few weeks ago that he was in great shape, and intent on playing again in 2012. The Saints worked him out in New Orleans last week, and Moss impressed them, reports said.

But the Niners?

Deep-threat need aside, why in hell would Harbaugh want to risk messing up the outstanding chemistry he instilled there in his coach-of-the-year first season? I think that question was on the mind of most football fans when they heard the news.

Maybe this explains it, in part.

Harbaugh actually can relate to Moss. Before he became Captain Comeback with the Colts, Harbaugh was booed for years as starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears -- basically for not being Jim McMahon.

A 45-30 record as Bears starter wasn't nearly good enough for fans of daaaa Bearssse, especially so soon after 1985.

Management eventually tired of Harbaugh, too, and waived him outright in March 1994 -- so they could bring in the Detroit Lions' Erik Kramer. Ouch. The Michigan grad's seven-year NFL career was on life support, at best. It was said Harbaugh's confidence was shot, too; Bears fans will do that to a quarterback.

The sad-sack Colts, however, gave the 30-year-old a chance at a do-over. And Harbaugh capitalized, willing the Colts not only into the playoffs a year later but to within one dropped Hail Mary pass of the Super Bowl.

Perhaps Harbaugh saw something Monday afternoon in the 30-something Moss' demeanour, or in his body language -- something that assured him Moss would not undermine Harbaugh's precious esprit de corps. No more sagging bottom lip, in other words.

"I had personal reasons outside of football to step away from the game," Moss said. "I still love the game and still think I can play at a high level, and I'm passionate about the game of football."

He seems to have convinced Jim Harbaugh, at least.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/KrykSlants


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