One of the toughest things for star athletes in any sport to do is to accept a lesser role. There are times when a former superstar needs to pass the torch to someone that’s more capable of handling their responsibilities. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss is the perfect example. It seems like yesterday when Moss burst onto the NFL scene, catching deep touchdown passes from Daunte Culpepper when both were members of the Minnesota Vikings in 1998.
Moss maintained a stellar career, culminating into arguably his finest season in 2007 as a member of the New England Patriots. He recorded 98 receptions for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns during the Patriots’ perfect 16-0 regular season. Unfortunately, that season ended bitterly for New England, as the Patriots’ opportunity for a perfect season ended with a 21-17 Super Bowl XLII loss to the New York Giants.
At 35, the days of Moss being the most dangerous receiver in the game are long gone. While still a capable receiver, he doesn’t need to be the primary receiver for San Francisco. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has seized that role, recording 85 receptions during the 2012 regular season. Tight end Vernon Davis has also proven to be one of the NFL’s most talented receivers at the position. Crabtree and Davis are still in their prime, solidifying the need for Moss to remain a complementary player on offense.
In addition, San Francisco’s rushing attack takes pressure off the team’s passing game. Second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick set an NFL playoff record with 181 rushing yards from the quarterback position in the 49ers’ 45-31 NFC Divisional round victory over the Green Bay Packers. Factor in veteran running back Frank Gore’s consistency carrying the football, and it’s evident that Moss doesn’t need to carry the offensive load like he once did earlier in his career.
Make no mistake: Moss will need to contribute if the 49ers are to defeat the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. If he contributes to at least 25 percent of the level he played at in 2007, San Francisco will make NFL history as the only franchise with six Super Bowl titles.