|Randy Moss: I still have a lot of love for Patriots, but I’m with Niners now||12.12.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
Randy Moss said Wednesday he’s still got fond memories of his time with the Patriots, but now, he’s a member of the 49ers.
The former New England wide receiver, who called Foxboro home from 2007 until the early stages of the 2010 season, said that he didn’t want to compare the two organizations “because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say,” but said that the Patriots still hold a place in his heart.
“Basically, I’ll leave it at that I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now, I’m a 49er, so hopefully, like I said, we go up there Sunday night and give it a good game,” said Moss, who caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots.
“Hopefully, we can complement our defense, [but there’s] no telling what’s going to happen,” he added. “But like I said, we have to play complementary football, and I think if we do that and try and not let Tom [Brady] and the [New England] offense run the score up on us, I think it’ll be a good game.”
Through 13 games, the 35-year-old Moss has 21 catches (on 37 targets) for 326 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco. His best all-around outing of the year came in the season opener against the Packers, when he had four catches (on four targets) for 47 yards and a touchdown. Despite the dip in his numbers, the Niners praised Moss on Wednesday, with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh saying he’s been a “great teammate.”
“He’s a good teammate,” said linebacker Aldon Smith. “He’s a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up, and being able to be in the locker room and sit next to him is cool. It’s a dream come true.”
“He’s done a nice job,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been a contributor, he’s produced, and he’s been a great teammate.”
He’s also getting a lot of respect in New England. Safety Devin McCourty spent training camp and the initial stages of the 2010 season as a teammate of Moss, and recalled Wednesday how the veteran receiver helped him grow up on a daily basis as a young defensive back.
“He’s still a very, very good receiver,” said McCourty. “I learned a lot just going against him when he was here. You see him out there, and he’s still able to make plays. I think one of the special things about him is that he’s still able to get vertical and run by guys. I guess one good thing is that we have some familiarity with him, and that can help us a little bit. But he’s still a very good receiver.”
“He does a great job of reading defenses,” said Wes Welker. “He knows when he’s about to get the ball and he knows when to kick into high gear and get open and make plays. He really understands defenses, how they’re trying to play them and how to attack them.”
“I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver I think that’s ever played,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well because you have to respect the ability to stretch the field and go deep and get behind you.”
Moss returned the compliment, saying he thought he knew football before he got to New England and started working with Belichick. Looking back, he acknowledged that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I learned a lot from Bill Belichick,” he said. “I’ve said time and time again, before I got to New England, I thought I knew a lot about football, but I think he taught me a lot, from A to Z, and I still carry it to this day. The compliments are good, and I respect coach Belichick and that organization, still to this day. Hopefully, we have a good game coming up Sunday night. Looking forward to the game, and I hope the fans do too.”
The 49ers are second in the league in pass defense, yielding an average of just 185 yards per game. (They only trail the Steelers, who allow an average of 169 passing yards per game.) So when he’s asked if some of the San Francisco defensive backs have picked his brain for advice when it comes to stopping the high-powered New England passing game, he said there’s really not much he could offer.
“Everybody knows that Bill Belichick is a so-called genius, and he changes it up every week,’ Moss said. “There’s not really much input I could give for the week. I’d just say have your head on a swivel and be ready for anything, because the way they’re playing, just coming off a Monday night game against the so-called best team in the league in the Houston Texans, they put fortysomething points up and really embarrassed them. I don’t think we want to be that team that gets embarrassed on national television. Like I said, hopefully, we come prepared and ready to play the entire game.”
Moss, in his 14th season, is working with young quarterback Colin Kaepernick. (Moss said Wednesday that Kaepernick has such great arm strength he dislocated a finger trying to catch a ball from the youngster a few weeks ago.) The receiver said Wednesday he likes what the youngster has been able to bring to the field.
“I just think his ability to come off the bench and lead a team,” Moss said of Kaepernick, who recently took over for veteran Alex Smith. “I think that’s most important, because — and no disrespect to Alex — but I think that most backup quarterbacks, as young as he is, are kind of waiting in the shadows. Kind of like what Aaron Rodgers was with Brett Favre. And I’m not comparing Alex and Brett or Aaron Rodgers and Kap. But I think that most second-string quarterbacks are just waiting in the shadows and waiting to get their shot. And I think Kap’s been able to just come in and just lead us as a whole unit.
“Anytime a guy can come in and lead like that … and I don’t mean verbally, but I mean leading by example, is what we as football players look for in a player, especially a quarterback,” he added. “So I really have to compliment his leadership, and him going out there and leading our offense up and down the field.”
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