Though the jury is still out on whether or not Moss will be a factor moving forward, the benefits of a having a receiver that even resembles what he used to be are substantial. On Friday, July 27, 2012, Moss spoke to the media for the first time in months, and like always, he had some interesting things to say. Moss told ESPN's NFL Live:
"The love that I have for the game of football is gonna always be in me and I just wanna play football and that's just really being here and coach Harbaugh and this organization accepting me and bringing me here was just something hopefully I can give something back in return and that's with my play and my presence out on and off the field."
What stands out the most about his comments is the fact that he talks about his love of the game and his desire to play football. All of the rhetoric sounds great at this point, but the issue with Moss has been that he can (and has) quit at any time if things get difficult.
The good news for the 49ers is that they are a good football team that's still improving -- far and away ahead of the state of the Oakland Raiders' organization when Moss had two of his least productive years in 2005 and 2006.
Hopefully the culture that Jim Harbaugh has created in San Francisco will keep the polarizing wideout motivated enough to get the most out of his 35-year-old body. One thing is certain -- he's going to have to work harder than he ever has to produce given the fact that he's been out of football for a year.
The biggest question that remains is whether or not Moss is willing to go through the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to prove his doubters wrong and make an impact. If he is, then the 49ers will improve by leaps and bounds on offense, and quarterback Alex Smith could shed the proverbial training wheels that saw him attempt just 27.8 passing attempts per game in 2011.
But if Moss simply decides he doesn't want to play football anymore, then the team will be glad that it didn't invest anything substantial in the former All-Pro. For a San Francisco offense that needs to add as many weapons as possible, the return on such a minimal investment has the potential to be great.
For a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl in 2012, that's an exciting possibility. Until then, however, the 49ers and Moss have a lot of work to do.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter.
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