Randy Moss has had so many iterations and incarnations that it’s never quite clear whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the “old Moss” to make an appearance. For the 49ers, it looks like a good thing.
“He still looks the same,” safety Donte Whitner said after Thursday’s pads-and-helmets-free practice, via the Associated Press. “He never, ever since he’s been playing football has looked like he’s been running fast. But he’s a long strider, and when you actually run against him, he’s really running really fast. He’s running the same as he’s always run. His body looks like a younger Randy Moss, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do on the football field.”
Quarterback Alex Smith agrees. “It’s tough to tell that he missed a year of football,” Smith said. “I certainly don’t see any rust. He’s running well, catching well. No surprise, he’s a pro and already has a good understanding of the playbook.”
The “old Moss” also showed up when reporters tried to get a word or two from him as he left the team facility. “Work is over, baby, we’re outta here,” Moss said.
The new Moss is also wearing his old number, donning 84 instead of 81 — possibly since a certain high-profile pain-in-the-behind once wore No. 81 for the 49ers. (Rookie Chris Owusu has T.O.’s number; maybe they’ll call the rookie “C.O.”)
Regardless of the number on his jersey, if the 49ers can get Moss to truly turn back the clock, it will end up being one of the biggest steals in league history. Or at least the biggest steal since the Patriots finagled a supposedly washed-up Moss from the Raiders for a fourth-round draft pick.