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  • David J. Phillip / Associated Press

    David J. Phillip Associated Press Randy Moss caught three passes for 24 yards during the preseason. Still, he is scheduled to start Sunday.

  • Jeff Wheeler / (Minneapolis) Star Tribune file, 2005

    Randy Moss mock-moons the crowd at Green Bay's Lambeau Field after catching a touchdown pass while playing for Minnesota during a 2005 playoff game.

49ers' Moss brings intrigue, plenty of questions

Published: Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 - 5:38 pm

SANTA CLARA – Randy Moss began an impromptu session with reporters Wednesday with a warning: No questions about Lambeau Field.

Then he brought up the subject himself, saying he looks forward to playing "on Sunday in a historical field such as Lambeau and all the history they have."

Added Moss: "So 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."

The Green Bay Packers' home field has been good to Moss, who played there annually when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.

In eight games at Lambeau, Moss has eight touchdowns, including two in the playoffs. He's caught 34 passes for 618 yards at Lambeau, has had more than 100 receiving yards in a game three times and had one infamous outing in 2005 when he mimed pulling down his pants and mock-mooned the crowd.

Moss will be wearing his familiar No. 84 when he makes his return Sunday. But he might as well be wearing a giant question mark.

How much he'll play, whether he can still get deep, whether he's the Randy Moss of old or just an old Randy Moss are major questions that linger. And 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was not eager to answer any of them Wednesday.

Harbaugh, who welcomed a baby boy into the world a day earlier, began his news conference as Mr. Vivacious. But he turned into Mr. Vague when the line of questioning turned to Moss and whether he has regained his previous ability.

"He's good. He's darn good," was the best that Harbaugh offered. "We feel great about him. He's on our team. We're ready to go to battle with Randy and all the guys."

Of course, it's in Harbaugh's best interest to reveal as little as possible about Moss because that creates all sorts of questions for his upcoming opponents.

San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers played against Moss in 2007 when he was with the Washington Redskins and Moss was with the New England Patriots. Rogers said that Moss was the focus of the Redskins' defensive meeting room that week, and he expects that the same thing is happening in Green Bay.

"That's the first thing they're saying right now," Rogers said. " 'Don't let him get deep.' "

According to Rogers, Moss ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash when he worked out for the 49ers in March. Rogers said he didn't see that kind of speed from Moss in training camp but that the 35-year-old receiver seems to have found another gear as the regular season approaches.

"Once I saw his 40 time and what he ran, I pretty much knew what I was going to get in facing him," Rogers said. "Even right now, I'll ask him, 'Were you holding something back during training camp?' Because he's looked faster and much quicker at these practices than at training camp. So I'll be very alert and looking at him while he competes, especially against Green Bay."

Alex Smith, meanwhile, noted that the 49ers' offense is predicated on multiple formations and personnel groups. That already gives opposing defenses plenty to think about during the week. Moss now becomes another facet of that preparation.

"I mean, a guy like Randy, the unique tool set that he has, creates a lot of problems," the 49ers quarterback said. "And I think he gives them a lot to think about."

Moss is listed as a starter for Sunday's game, which wasn't the case in the exhibition season when he was part of a rotation of wide receivers. He caught only three passes for 24 yards. With that in mind, does he feel like he has good chemistry with Smith?

"No," Moss said. "I don't think any receiver really feels that they're where they want to be going into the season. The only thing that I can really hang my hat on is, we've put enough work in to go into Week 1.

"That's all I can really say."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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