49ers

Moss a mystery as he returns to Lambeau

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Moss a mystery as he returns to Lambeau

SANTA CLARA -- Wide receiver Randy Moss has scored more receiving touchdowns -- 13 in the regular season and two more in the playoffs -- against the Green Bay Packers than anyone in the history of the NFL.While with the Minnesota Vikings for the first seven seasons of his career, Moss played against the Packers twice every season.He knew the Packers. And the Packers knew him.When Moss, 35, returns to Lambeau Field on Sunday as a starting 49ers receiver, there will be an element of mystery. After all, Moss has played against the Packers only once in the past seven seasons. Moreover, there's not much recent tape for Green Bay to study on him. He did not see a lot of action in the exhibition season after sitting out all of 2011.Moss and fellow 49ers newcomer Mario Manningham, the presumptive third receiver, give the 49ers' passing game a new look that will be unveiled Sunday against the Packers."It definitely gives them a different dimension, no doubt about it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in a conference call Wednesday with Bay Area reporters. "We had the whole offseason to study film, and they've added a lot to their perimeter. Their vertical passing game has improved a lot just getting off the bus."It's a dynamic perimeter."Moss suggested Wednesday that it remains a work in progress, as he and quarterback Alex Smith continue to build a rapport.Moss played just 30 snaps in the first three exhibition games. He caught two passes from Smith for 18 yards against the Houston Texans in the second exhibition game. In the third game, Smith overthrew a triple-covered Moss on a deep route against the Denver Broncos -- perhaps to show the Packers that Smith will not be bashful about targeting Moss on deep routes. Moss sat out the final tuneup.When asked Wednesday if he feels he has developed good chemistry with Smith, Moss answered, "Well, I don't think any receiver really feels like they're where they want to be going into the season. The only thing I can really hang my hat on is we put enough work in to go into Week 1. That's all I can really say."RELATED: Randy Moss career stats News
Moss has been a stalwart on the practice field since signing a one-year, 1.75 million contract with the 49ers after sitting out last season. Moss can earn an additional 2.25 million through incentives. He did not miss a day of training camp, so the 49ers believe they know exactly what Moss can do."He's good," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's darn good. We feel great about him.""I think we've seen it out here on the practice field -- no doubt in my mind," Alex Smith said. "It's a matter of all of us taking it to the game field. The great thing, as an offense, you continue to remain multiple, balanced, and do a lot of different things. It create a lot of problems for (defenses) and they don't know where it's coming from. And Randy's a piece of that."Smith said the element of the unknown is something that can work in the 49ers' favor."A guy like Randy and the unique tool set that he has creates a lot of problems," Smith said. "He gives them a lot to think about, a guy who has big-play potential."In the past, Moss has flashed plenty of his big-play potential against the Packers, averaging 90.9 yards receiving per game in those head-to-head matchups. With 57 receiving yards Sunday, Moss would surpass Elroy Hirsch for most career receiving yards against Green Bay.Moss' two most-memorable games against the Packers were his first and last at Lambeau Field while with the Vikings. As a rookie in 1998, Moss enjoyed his breakout game with a five-catch, 190-yard, two-touchdown performance. In the 2004 playoffs, he caught two touchdown passes and famously pretended to "moon" the Lambeau crowd.On Wednesday when Moss met with several members of the Bay Area media after practice, he referenced that episode."I've had success on that field -- won and lost," Moss said. "And I just don't like people bringing up the old stuff. I tried to have fun with the fans -- tried to have fun. But at the same time, I want to go out here and compete. I think it's a good thing that my comeback -- or whatever you want to consider it . . . Lambeau's a nice place to start it."Manningham will also be starting his 49ers career after playing his first four NFL seasons with the New York Giants. There was never much doubt that Moss would team with Michael Crabtree to be the 49ers' starting receivers. Manningham returned to full practice Wednesday after leaving the club two weeks ago to attend the funeral of his grandfather in Ohio."Mario was back here on the off-days and getting re-acclimated and familiar with everything," Harbaugh said. "Again, (it's an) important week of preparation and we'll feel good day-by-day. We'll feel good as we do the work and get the confidence that will make us competitive."The 49ers signed Manningham to a two-year, 7.5 million contract in the offseason after catching 39 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns for the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants."I can't wait," Manningham said. "I'm excited to go out and play on a new team and show what I got and see how we are as a team."

Madden NFL 18 ratings revealed for 49ers’ two first-round picks

Madden NFL 18 ratings revealed for 49ers’ two first-round picks

The 49ers enter their first training camp under head coach Kyle Shanahan Thursday with plenty of questions to be answered

But don't worry, one of the hardest-hitting questions already has its answer. On Monday, ratings for every first-round rookie were revealed for "Madden NFL 18." 

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who the 49ers traded back and took with the third pick in the draft, comes in at 79 overall. Thomas is tied with two others as the fourth-highest rated rookie in the game. 

Over two seasons with Stanford, Thomas recorded 98 tackles, 24.5 for loss, and 12 sacks. 

San Francisco traded back into the first round to add another piece to their defense in linebacker Reuben Foster with the No. 31 overall pick. The former Alabama star starts off his Madden career with a 76 overall rating. He is tied with five other rookies for the seventh-best rating.

In three years at Alabama, Foster racked up 211 tackles, 23 for loss, and seven sacks. 

Ten questions as 49ers open training camp

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AP

Ten questions as 49ers open training camp

The 49ers report to training camp Thursday with 51 of the 90 players on their offseason roster coming to the organization since the arrivals of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.

So, yes, there are a lot of questions surrounding the 49ers, who finished last season 2-14 and the second-worst team in the league behind the Cleveland Browns.

Here are ten questions from followers on Facebook that seem to be most on the minds of 49ers fans on the eve of reporting day:

1. How much better is the coaching staff compared to last season's coaching staff? (Raymond Robles)
That remains to be seen, but there is little doubt Kyle Shanahan has in place a proven NFL offensive system. General manager Trent Baalke did not give Chip Kelly much talent with which to work last season, but there is plenty of doubt whether Kelly’s scheme can sustain success in the NFL.

Shanahan has installed a traditional NFL offense. The fullback position will be a key component. Long-time running backs coach Bobby Turner has routinely produced exceptional results.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was not Shanahan’s first choice. Shanahan wanted an experienced coach on that side of the ball, but could not land Gus Bradley or Vic Fangio. Saleh got high marks from players after the offseason program, but the true indication will be the results of the 49ers’ defense during the regular season.

2. Hoyer is the presumptive starter, but what chance do you think Beathard beats out Barkley for the backup spot? (James Bramow)
There has never been a question since the moment the 49ers signed Brian Hoyer that he steps in as the starting quarterback. After the 49ers could not land Matt Schaub, the 49ers lined up Matt Barkely as the backup.

Hoyer and Barkley open camp as the solid Nos. 1 and 2 on the roster. C.J. Beathard, whom the 49ers selected late in the third round, will likely remain as the No. 3. The plan is to bring him along slowly, so it seems unlikely he has much of a chance to move up the depth chart unless an injury forces some shuffling.

3. What's the future looking like for Carlos Hyde with San Francisco 49ers? (Steven James)
Hyde is the best running back on the 49ers’ roster. The only question is whether he is the best running back for the 49ers’ new scheme. Hyde enters the final year of his contract. The 49ers made the moves in the offseason to build more depth and line up his replacement for the 2018 season. Shanahan and Turner really wanted Joe Williams, and they convinced Lynch to draft him in the fourth round. The future of Hyde with the 49ers depends on how he performs once the pads go on. His physical style of play is what distinguishes him from the others.

4. Will Carlos Hyde and Vance McDonald open camp as the starters? (Joe Ruckus Marsh)
Hyde will certainly open camp as the starter. I’d assume McDonald will enter the first huddle of training camp with the No. 1 offense, too. But there is no question McDonald will face stiff challenges to maintain his role on the team.

5. Is George Kittle the real deal? (Israel Vasquez)
We will see when things start getting serious. But the first indication from Kittle during the offseason program is that he has a chance to be a significant contributor as a rookie. He was very active in the passing game, especially as a red-zone target. He also has good speed, which he showed to get down the field and make some plays. If his blocking holds up, he could easily win a starting job.

6. Who are gonna be the starting WRs? (John Tinsley)
Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin appear to be clear favorites to win the starting jobs on the outside. The 49ers have three solid starting options at slot receiver, led by veteran Jeremy Kerley, whom the new regime re-signed after he led the club in receptions and receiving yards last season. Draft pick Trent Taylor had a strong camp. Bruce Ellington is talented but he has been unable to remain healthy enough to show anything.

7. Who do you think has the inside track to start at center: Zuttah or Kilgore? (D.j. Byrd)
Jeremy Zuttah made the Pro Bowl last season with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has played well – when healthy – since taking over as the starter in 2014. Zuttah might actually be competing for two spots. There’s a decent chance that Kilgore assumes the starting role at center and Zuttah is moved to one of the guard spots. This way, they’re both winners.

8. The new 4-3 front seven with all the new faces, how's the rotation going to look like? (Eric Page)
The favorites to win the starting jobs along the line are big end Solomon Thomas, nose tackle Earl Mitchell, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and “Leo” Arik Armstead. Quinton Dial faces a stiff challenge to learn the new scheme, as he must develop the movement skills to play a one-gap scheme. Elvis Dumervil and Aaron Lynch will compete to work their way into pass-rush specialist roles. Chris Jones enters camp in good position to serve behind Buckner in a backup role. Tank Carradine and Ronald Blair will compete for spot duty behind Thomas.

9. Who will start along side NaVorro Bowman? (Daniel Velazquez)
The 49ers signed Malcolm Smith because of his knowledge and production within the new defensive system. Smith looked good in the offseason program. But the 49ers also fell in love with Reuben Foster and traded up to get him at the back of the first round.

When the 49ers last saw Foster, they expected him to be medically cleared for the opening of training camp. (Foster underwent offseason shoulder surgery that was widely reported as a condition that scared off some NFL teams.)

There is no rush to get Foster onto the field. But he is such a talent that it will be difficult to keep him on the sideline. My guess is that Smith opens as the starter and they add more and more to Foster’s plate until he is deemed ready for an every-down role. His understanding and execution of the defense will determine when he takes over on a full-time basis.

10. How much of a learning curve will there be for the defense going from a 3-4 to a 4-3? (David Hartless)
The 49ers plan to play a much more aggressive style of defense. The defensive linemen will be responsible for one gap, and they will be asked to charge up the field to disrupt plays in the backfield.

That sounds great, but it also leaves the defense susceptible to more big plays. Strong safety Eric Reid, stationed closer to the line of scrimmage, will have a key role in the run game. Free safety Jimmie Ward will be asked to make plays in the passing game.

Saleh’s defense, however, will be simple. Because of the limited number of calls, the defense should be more comfortable doing fewer things. The 49ers will likely have fewer blown assignments and gives them a chance to make a significant improvement over last season, when the club was the worst defense in the NFL.