San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss lines up against the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 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.
-Wide receiver Randy Moss fully expected that he would hear some boos from the Vikings' crowd after his two stints in Minnesota. Instead Moss was treated to a standing ovation when his name was announced and several fans sported Moss jerseys. "I want to thank the fans for the love," Moss said. "I really appreciate the love they give."
-Running back Frank Gore was his typical productive self, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The problem was he only carried the ball 12 times. When coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about it, he said, "We always have Frank involved in the game plan." When he was then asked why Gore didn't get more carries, Harbaugh said, "I don't have an answer for you."