Despite mishandling a punt Sunday that nearly led to a turnover, J.J. Moses still has the confidence of GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and will likely be the Packers' return man when the Buffalo Bills come to Lambeau Field this weekend.
Monday, Sherman said he sees enough in Moses to give him another shot.
"I think he can give us what we're looking for," Sherman said. "I'm going to give him an opportunity to do that, I hope, this weekend."
What happened to Moses at a blustery north end of 3COM Park in the final seconds of the first quarter Sunday, was something that happened to a multitude of major league leftfielders before him, back when the San Francisco Giants used to inhabit the park once known as Candlestick.
The wind carried over Moses' head the punt of Bill LaFleur, who one possession earlier had booted the ball a mere 20 yards. Moses ranged backward, couldn't get to the ball, and then attempted to field it off the bounce.
The ball slipped out of his hands and was nearly recovered by at least one 49ers player, before Paris Lenon dove in to recover the loose ball at the 1-yard-line.
"With the wind conditions being what they were, with the ball being wet, the wind swirling and their kicker being erratic, a 10-year veteran could have done what J.J. did," Sherman said. "The only thing that he shouldn't have done was go field the ball when it was over his head. He should have let that go."
Sunday, Sherman said in his post-game press conference that Moses was initially in poor position to field the punt because the Packers weren't sure whether LaFleur would replicate his previous unintentional pooch.
An on-and-off member of the Packers' practice squad this season, Moses wasn't named to the Packers' 53-man roster until Saturday. Earlier in the week, the Packers had waived 10-year veteran Darrien Gordon, who was averaging 5.1 yards per punt return through 13 games.
Moses ended up with a 2.0-yard average in his NFL debut, but Sherman said the blocking wasn't there for him in his only other attempt, a 4-yarder after the 49ers' opening possession.
"We had a left-return (called)," Sherman said. "The ball was kicked to his right. He had to get all the way back to the other side of the field, and that was difficult. We certainly didn't have a great return in that situation."
At 5-foot-6, 178 pounds, Moses may not be the prototype for an NFL punt returner, but it's too early to dismiss him.
This offseason, Moses led NFL Europe with an 11.2-yard average in 25 attempts.
"He certainly doesn't have the size, and I would say strength doesn't go there, but ... quickness and speed he does have," Sherman said. "I'd like to have the whole package, I'd like him to be 6-foot-1 about 220 pounds and be able to be as quick and as fast as he is, but that's not the case."
If size poses a problem for Moses, it's probably not in his return ability, but in his role of backup wide receiver.
Buried in the depth chart at that position, Moses is virtually a one-dimensional player on game days, something Sherman looks to stay away from when designing his 45-man active roster.
Robert Ferguson, on the other hand, could contribute at least two positions. Already, Ferguson is a member of the Packers' special teams coverage units in addition to his receiving role. He was slated to be the Packers' return man versus San Francisco until Moses was signed.
Ferguson may get a shot eventually, but for the moment it's Moses.
"I'm going to stay with him at this point," Sherman said. "Obviously I have to be able to handle it from a roster spot standpoint, and if I'm willing to do that again remains to be seen.
"We're going to see how he progresses this week and if I feel like he gives us our best chance to win, then I will go in that direction."