Throughout this season the San Francisco 49ers have been talking about how good Randy Moss is.
How he has a new, fresh attitude. How he still has excellent speed, fine hands and can dominate in practice.
On Sunday, Niners fans finally get a chance to see if it’s all been hype or if Moss, at age 35, remains one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Moss has been named as a starter Sunday in Green Bay for the 49ers’ regular-season opener against the Packers, opposite Michael Crabtree.
After sitting out last season – and with an array of baggage and bad reviews trailing him – Moss was signed by the 49ers in the offseason to add some pop to a receiving corps that was both thin and incapable of stretching the field against opposing defenses.
During the exhibition season, Moss saw limited action, catching just three passes for 24 yards. But during summer preseason games, starters often leave early or aren’t featured; the object is to keep veterans healthy.
So, whether Moss is still an elite receiver remains a question. The sample size -- in public -- is too small.
For head coach Jim Harbaugh, however, there are no questions. After watching him perform in workouts, mini camp and training camp, Harbaugh is a believer in what Moss gives his team.
“He’s good,” Harbaugh told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “He’s darn good. We feel great about him.”
Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers, who’s dueled with Moss for weeks in practice, says he knew from the time Moss ran a 4.3 40-yard dash for the 49ers in March (when they signed him) that Moss still has game. Rogers says Moss even this week looks quicker than he did during training camp, now that the regular season is here.
Rogers knows the Packers have to prepare to keep Moss in check.
“That’s the first thing they’re saying right now,” Rogers told the Sacramento Bee. “ ‘Don’t let him get deep.’ ”
With Moss and newcomers Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins joining Crabtree and Kyle Williams as wideouts (Ted Ginn Jr. remains uncertain for Sunday’s game), quarterback Alex Smith goes into Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field with a larger and potentially more explosive group of wideouts than he had in the playoffs last season against New Orleans and New York.
From what Smith has seen of Moss since he joined the team, Moss remains a big-play receiver.
“I mean, a guy like Randy, the unique tool set that he has, creates a lot of problems,” Smith told the Bee. “And I think he gives them a lot to think about.”
Moss, in speaking with reporters Wednesday for the first time since training camp began in July, says he’s re-energized since joining the 49ers and can’t wait to test the Packers Sunday.
“Today is the first day of Week One,” Moss said. “I feel pretty good and excited. It feels good to be back in the league. It feels good I made the team. I’m very excited. I look forward to a good game Sunday.”