It was probably inevitable after Randy Moss said, “I don’t like my role. I really don’t.” Teams don’t like it when their employees let the world know they aren’t happy playing for the team that signs their checks. In the San Francisco 49ers’ case, they probably feel even more upset with Moss since the guy effectively bitched and moaned his way out of the league prematurely, sat out the entire 2011 season, then was given every opportunity to succeed in San Francisco.
Pro Football Talk reported that the 49ers made it clear at the 2013 Scouting Combine that Moss will not return, and this news isn’t surprising in the least.
Forget what Moss said. Decoy, schmecoy. If he could have produced 100-yard games on the regular, he would’ve been asked to do so. It’s not like the 49ers were deep at receiver at the end — hell, Moss was the team’s No. 2 receiver in the Super Bowl. And for all the good things the 49ers said about him, he complained when given an open mic week before the Super Bowl and wasn’t even that great at what the 49ers said he was doing well. Supposedly Moss had transformed himself into a hardworking blue collar type; his lack of effort on Colin Kaepernick’s interception said otherwise.
I’ll give Moss this, he was a great influence on Michael Crabtree, to the point where I’m wondering if Crabtree’s earlier troubles had more to do with confidence than health concerns or not having suitable chemistry with Alex Smith. Is Moss a football savant? Without a doubt. Does he know talent? Certainly. Is he a loose cannon who may not be playing with a full deck?
Just look at his history.
It was a smart gamble that worked for the 49ers, but Moss’ Super Bowl week comments acted as a warning to everyone that the expiration date was approaching quickly. What he said paled in comparison to the garbage that spewed from Chris Culliver’s mouth as so-called distractions go, and Moss deserves credit for being smart and lucky enough to stay on the field all season. One can’t say that for Mario Manningham or Kyle Williams, two players who would’ve probably caused more matchup difficulties for the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3. But Moss scored some touchdowns, gained some yardage and even blocked a few people. For what they paid and risked, it was a smart move.
It’s also telling that they’re badmouthing Moss in a somewhat public sense (if the 49ers didn’t want PFT to know they were thinking of going in another direction, they would’ve been quiet during the combine), just like he opened his BIG YAPPER (Chris Farley voice) at the Superdome.
Brian Sabean, the General Manager for the San Francisco Giants, is much the same way. He’ll take risks on players who might make the franchise look bad (translation: PEDs), but once a player makes even the slightest peep about being unhappy with his role, he’s gone. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh — who said he wanted Moss back during the playoffs, but then again what else could he say — are probably furious that Moss would stab them in the back publicly after signing him brought a season’s worth of questions about a player who didn’t make that much of a difference one way or the other.
Gambling on Braylon Edwards blew up in their faces. Gambling on Moss caused undue stress but gave the 49ers a player who provided something, if not exactly what they hoped for. Look for the 49ers to stop buying low on famous vets whose mouths stay big as their production shrinks. This team is built on guys like Patrick Willis and Frank Gore, players who communicate honestly with coaches and teammates but never publicly badmouth the organization. Moss was an interesting footnote, but in the end he was too worried about self-preservation to really make a difference on a team that came agonizingly close to a championship.
Update: Moss tweeted this shortly after my post went live:
One would have to assume he knew the 49ers wouldn’t bring him back based on what they told him after the season ended, and the report from PFT gave him a reason to make it sort of official.