Moss a mystery as he returns to Lambeau

Moss a mystery as he returns to Lambeau
September 6, 2012, 2:23 pm
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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."

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