One player who could shake the 49ers out of their lackluster performance on Sunday in Minnesota is wide receiver Randy Moss. Moss returned to the place he started and caught three passes for 27 yards as the 49ers targeted him early with six passes thrown his way.
But Moss could have been far more productive. Twice, quarterback Alex Smith threw high to him, including one time at the goal line. If Smith makes a better throw, Moss easily would have scored his second touchdown of the season.
Moss also dropped another high pass over the middle in which he found himself wide open. And that’s the point, Moss is getting open.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, Smith takes a while to strike up a connection with a new receiver. Only in Michael Crabtree’s fourth year is he becoming a reliable target for Smith.
“Randy and I have to connect on those two plays,” Smith said after the 49ers’ 24-13 loss in which Smith only averaged 5.8 yards per pass attempt. “I’ve got to throw better balls, because they were both key plays.”
After getting targeted early, the 49ers put Moss on the shelf late. While desperately trying to come back from an 11-point deficit, Moss basically watched from the sideline. Asked about how he was used, Moss curtly retorted, “Next question.”
And that is the next question, if Moss is only used sparingly, how can they expect him to be engaged?
Smith said Moss is handling his lack of work like a professional so far.
“He stayed positive the whole game; we’ve got to get better,” Smith said.
Staying in Ohio: The 49ers began their weeklong stay in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday as they chose not to travel back to the Bay Area in between Sunday’s game in Minnesota and this weekend’s game against the New York Jets. It’s the second consecutive year the Niners have spent a week in Youngstown and coach Jim Harbaugh feels it’s beneficial to his club. “Well, we’re all staying under one roof for every night that we’re here,” Harbaugh said. “And eating those meals together, training together, practicing together, meeting together.... [You] learn more about the guys, their stories.”
49ers won’t see Revis: The 49ers caught a bit of break when the Jets lost All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season to a torn ACL injury over the weekend, and Harbaugh was quick to sympathize with New York’s plight. “I don’t think any of us in football, whether it’s your own team or an opponent, you don’t want to see that happen to another player,” Harbaugh said.