49ers

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.”

Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

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Ward injures hamstring under team supervision, placed on PUP

SANTA CLARA – Safety Jimmie Ward was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list to open training camp with a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced Friday morning.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan stated on Thursday that all of their players were healthy and no players would be headed to PUP or the non-football injury list.

But that was before the 49ers were scheduled to have their conditioning test. Ward sustained the injury on Thursday during the team's conditioning test. The team lists him as "week to week."

He can be activated to begin practice at any time. Ward is also eligible to begin the regular season on the PUP list. Any player who opens the regular season on PUP is ineligible for the first six weeks of the season.

Ward is expected to be one of the key members of the 49ers' defense from the free safety position. His role is dubbed "The Eraser," fellow safety Eric Reid said, because of his role as a playmaker in the secondary. However, one of the major questions about Ward is his ability to remain healthy through the rigors of an NFL season.

Ward missed eight games as a rookie due to a foot injury. Last year, he sat out five games due to a shoulder injury.

Hyde 'flipped a switch' this offseason, sets lofty goal in contract year

Hyde 'flipped a switch' this offseason, sets lofty goal in contract year

SANTA CLARA – Carlos Hyde has been the 49ers' unchallenged starter since the organization allowed Frank Gore to leave in free agency after the 2014 season.

Finally, he has been challenged.

The 49ers drafted Joe Williams in the fourth round, signed veteran Tim Hightower and acquired Kapri Bibbs in a trade. Moreover, Hyde appears to be challenging himself, too.

“My goal is to be the No. 1 rushing running back in this league,” Hyde said. “I feel like I have the best opportunity to do that now with this new staff.”

General manager John Lynch said he has noticed Hyde “flipped a switch” in the offseason. Hyde remained in the Bay Area to use the 49ers’ facilities to work out and eat at the team’s cafeteria. At one point, he even asked coach Kyle Shanahan about being included on special teams.

Hyde reported to training camp Thursday at 228 pounds – the least he has weighed since his high-school days, he said. Hyde could be a good fit for Shanahan’s running scheme.

“It’s outside zone, which is downhill. I’m a downhill back. I feel like I fit the scheme very well,” said Hyde, who enters the final year of his contract.

Hyde had career-best totals of 988 yards and six touchdowns last season with a 4.6-yard average. Although the 49ers could use more a multi-pronged approach at running back, Hyde could be set up for a career year heading into free agency.

“I ran into him in the hall and he looks tremendous,” Lynch said. “He really has dedicated himself. He’s changed his body type this offseason and that to me at the least bit shows a commitment. There’s those stories, but we’re excited to see this whole thing as we take the next step.”