SANTA CLARA -- With receiver Mario Manningham's status uncertain for Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, the 49ers might require more of Randy Moss against his former team.
Moss played a season-high 51-percent of the snaps with Manningham out of action against the Miami Dolphins last week. Moss has played 35-percent of the 49ers' offensive snaps for the season.
In turning on the video of the 49ers' offense, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he sees Moss flash some of the same attributes that made him the most explosive wideout of his generation.
"I think Randy looks like Randy," Belichick said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "He's the greatest deep-ball receiver that's ever played. Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel for the deep part of the field like Randy Moss does.
"I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things. You have to respect his ability to go deep, stretch the field, get behind you. It's hard to take that away and defend everything else that he can do."
Moss enjoyed three exceptional seasons with the Patriots from 2007 to 2009, including his first season in New England when he set the NFL record with 23 touchdown catches as the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season.
"He's an explosive, dynamic player, and probably the smartest receiver I've ever coached," Belichick said. "I know he absolutely knows what he's doing and knows what the defense is doing."
Moss has distinguished himself with the 49ers as much for his blocking as his receiving. Moss is the 49ers' fifth leading receiver with 21 catches for 326 yards and two touchdowns.
Belichick said Moss was always a good blocker with the Patriots, too.
"Absolutely," Belichick said. "He's tall, he's long, he's got long arms and he's able to cover up those defenders and they have a hard time seeing around him or getting off him, being able to get into the play. He's very effective doing that."