Moss looks forward to facing his former team

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Moss looks forward to facing his former team

SANTA CLARA -- In three seasons as New England Patriots teammates, wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker combined for some mind-blowing statistics.

Moss and Welker teamed up for 596 receptions, 7,453 yards and 62 touchdowns from 2007 to 2009 before the Patriots traded Moss to the Minnesota Vikings early in the 2010 season.

Welker had more of the catches (346) with Moss supplying more of the touchdowns (47) during their time together.

"Obviously, Randy is a great player and has so much speed and everybody is so afraid of the big play that he can create, and everything like that," Welker said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

"It definitely puts a lot of teams in two high safeties and kind of opens up the middle of the field."

At 35, Moss has slowed down as he returns to New England on Sunday night to play his former team. Moss has 21 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' run-based offense through 13 games.

"I know Randy worked really hard," Welker said. "Even if he did slow down a little bit, he's still really fast. He's been a great playmaker for a long time in this league, and I'm sure it hasn't changed too much."

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Earlier on Wednesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick complimented Moss, calling him "the greatest deep-ball receiver that's ever played" and "probably the smartest receiver I've ever coached."

After practice Wednesday, Moss spoke to reporters who cover the 49ers. Moss expressed his admiration for Belichick and the Patriots.

"I learned a lot from Bill Belichick," Moss 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. I still carry it to this day.

"The compliments are great and I respect Coach Belichick and that organization still to this day. And hopefully we have a good game coming out Sunday night. Looking forward to the game, and hopefully the fans do, too."

When asked if there are similarities between the 49ers and Patriots organizations, Moss said, "I don't want to get into all of that because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say. Basically, I'll leave it at, I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now I'm a 49er, and hopefully we go out there Sunday night and give it a good game.

"One thing we know, it's going to be a hard-fought game from the offensive side because of their ability to put points up. Hopefully, we can complement our defense, not telling what's going to happen, but we got to play complementary football. And if we do that, and try not to let Tom (Brady) and the offense run the score up on us, I think it'll be a good game. Like I said, we're just coming in and working each and every day and looking forward to the matchup Sunday night."

Moss said he isn’t sure he can provide any useful insight into the Patriots defense for the 49ers’ defensive players. The advice he has given teammates is to be prepared for anything — or else the 49ers could have an experience similar to the Houston Texans, who were drubbed 42-14 on Monday night.

“Everybody knows Bill Belichick is a so-called genius and he changes it up every week,” Moss said. “There's really not much input I can give for the week. I just said, have your head on a swivel and be ready for anything because the way they're playing, coming off a Monday night game against the so-called best team in the league, in the Houston Texans.

“They put 40-some points up and really embarrassed them, so I don't think we want to be that team that gets embarrassed on national television. So like I said, we come prepared and ready to play a good game.”

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."