Best receiver or not, 49ers' Randy Moss has matured

Veteran still seeking first Super Bowl ring, but he is learning his role in San Francisco's offense

NEW ORLEANS

The San Francisco 49ers' Randy Moss said Tuesday that he is the best wide receiver to ever play in the National Football League.

On Sunday night, he might not even be the best receiver in the game, but he could have the biggest impact.

No offense to Moss, he is probably the second best receiver in history. Statistically, only Jerry Rice is better when it comes to receiving touchdowns (197 to 156) and Moss' 15,292 receiving yards are third behind Rice's 22,895 and Terrell Owens' 15,934.

And then there is this little issue of Super Bowl rings. Rice has three, and Moss has zero. Case closed.

But that could change Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVII.

After a year of retirement, the 35-year-old Moss signed with San Francisco this season and he could finally get a Super Bowl ring to possibly finish off a 14-year Hall of Fame career.

"It's actually a dream, really," said Moss, one of the few players on both teams who could command as much media attention as Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. "By me taking a year off and having to work out for almost a whole year, being able to come back and be in the Super Bowl one year later is just a dream."

When asked if he plans on coming back to play another season, Moss said he wants to, but the focus is on Sunday night.

Here's one title he definitely can own: Moss is the greatest decoy in the history of the NFL.

He caught only 28 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season, but he still commands respect.

He is still in remarkably good shape, and his size — 6 feet 4, 215 pounds — still gives him an advantage. At an age when most players have lost a step or two, Moss still runs the 40-yard dash in 4.25.

The Ravens don't want to get "Mossed" in the Super Bowl, a term used to describe his catches over defensive backs.

"He is still Randy Moss," Ravens cornerback Corey Graham said. "That in itself says something. He has been great in this game for so long and been able to do things few other players can do. Unfortunately for us, he can still do them, and he has great spring in his legs.

"You never know with this team because he can still go over the top and make big plays," Graham said. "Wherever he is on the field, we've got to be aware and concerned."

The addition of Moss may have put the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

A year ago, they had a strong running game and a decent short- to mid-range passing game, but they didn't have a vertical threat or a quarterback with a strong enough arm to put fear in opponents.

Because of Moss and his speed, opposing defenses had to put a safety over top to double-team him. The 49ers use Moss outside and in the slot. He is a threat from any alignment.

Not only did the addition of Moss open up the passing game, but it opened up the field for fourth-year receiver Michael Crabtree, who went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time and had a career high nine touchdown passes.

And here's the kicker: Moss never complained.

It's the truth. He may have been a prima donna with the Minnesota Vikings, alienated the media as a member of the New England Patriots and didn't work hard with the Oakland Raiders, but he simply accepted his role in San Francisco.

Advertisement