After first glancing at this headline, the temptation is to laugh before saying, “Hell no,” in a dismissive tone. You could even add an “ah” in there, as in, “Ah hellllll no.” Chad Ochocinco was pretty much useless to the New England Patriots, and Tom Brady is the dreamiest, hair-weavingest quarterback around. How could the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson possibly help the San Francisco 49ers?
Except … there are a few things about this situation that that might give one pause before laughing this idea into the recycling bin of internet speculation.
Randy Moss met the same fate in New England.
Sure, Moss was incredibly productive with Brady throwing him the ball for a while — setting records, even. But even after getting booted out of Foxboro, putting up middling numbers with Tennessee and Minnesota, and sitting out a year, the 49ers were willing to give Moss a shot to resurrect his Hall of Fame career.
That’s the thing: Ochocinco isn’t making the Hall of Fame. But he’s had an excellent career, he’s almost a year younger than Moss and hasn’t taken a sabbatical.
Succeeding in New England’s offense is a tricky thing.
There’s a reason why Ochocinco went from 67 receptions and 831 yards in his last year as a Bengal to fizzling out and getting crushed by Tedy Bruschi for being seemingly in awe of Brady and the Patriots’ pseudo-dynasty. There’s a reason why Deion Branch can only succeed in New England.
Ochocinco seemed like a shell of his former self both in terms of production and personality, and never climbed out of the ditch he fell into early on. But Ochocinco didn’t fail because he was a “diva,” it was because he had difficulty learning the playbook and/or gaining Brady’s trust. Just because someone fails with the Patriots doesn’t mean they’re done.
He wasn’t totally worthless last year.
Ochocinco’s accomplishments were modest during a 2011 season in which he only amassed 15 receptions for 276 yards and a touchdown, but he made three catches of 30+ yards and caught a 21-yard pass in the Super Bowl.
Ochocinco and Crabtree appear to be friends.
Oh, who am I kidding…
- The 49ers drafted a wide receiver in the first round.
- They signed free agent WR Mario Manningham.
- Moss is another celebrity wide receiver that the 49ers are taking a chance on, but Moss wants no part of talking to the media. Ochocinco, like Terrell Owens, has a slightly harder time keeping quiet.
- According to Eric Branch, Kyle Williams “sure looks like the smoothest and most explosive wide receiver on the roster during these non-padded practices,” and Williams (who indeed looks bigger this year) is no sure bet to make the team.
- Ochocinco is a pretty terrible blocker.
In short, the people saying, “Ah hellllll no” were probably right, after all. Even though the 49ers have surprised us with their interest in guys like Moss and Peyton Manning, Ochocinco’s talent was never on the level of guys like Moss or Manning, his skills have diminished greatly, and he has a difficult time learning offenses.
The 49ers aren’t even being mentioned as an Ochocinco possibility by the top NFL reporters, and neither are the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders probably make more sense as a potential destination, being that they signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh last year to help Carson Palmer feel more comfortable and Ochocinco was even more productive with Palmer in their days with the Bengals. Maybe he’ll get a shot from a team like the Bills or Dolphins, but there’s just as good a chance that my prediction from December will come true: Ochocinco’s NFL career could come to an end sooner rather than later.