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

He doesn't like it, but…

"I don't," Moss said. "I like to be out there playing football. One thing that I've always had to really understand was being a decoy. It was put to me, Coach Dennis Green just said, 'Even though the football is not in your hand, you're still out there dictating how the defense is playing the offense.' It took me a while to really understand where he was coming from.

"Later on and now in my career, I understand that my presence on the field, I don't always have to touch the ball to be able to help the offense score touchdowns," Moss said. "I've always been a team player. I've never been about self. Anything that is going to push our team to victory and hopefully win a Super Bowl, I'm willing to do."

Hmmm…

Let's just say Moss has matured. Regardless of the teams for which he has played, Moss has always been respected by his teammates. As one of the elder statesmen this season, he has spent plenty of time before, during and after practices teaching the younger receivers about running routes, positioning and even blocking.

When outside linebacker Aldon Smith was named the team Most Valuable Player recently, he was asked who he voted for and he replied Moss.

"He is one of the greatest receivers to ever play," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "When Aldon said Moss, that speaks volumes about what the players feel about his contributions."

Crabtree said: "He plays a big role. His voice alone gets you hyped. Him being around just brings the best out of us. I could honestly see Randy Moss standing on the stage like Charles Barkley or one of those guys that just speaks their mind because his personality is amazing."

Before the 49ers left San Francisco for New Orleans, it was Moss who lectured them about this being a business week, not just to have fun. There are a lot of 49ers who want to win this game for Moss.

"I'm happy for Randy. I'm very happy for him because he's been in this league for years now and still hasn't won a Super Bowl," 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (Maryland) said. "He's finally at the stage where he can really make some things happen with this team and I'm very happy for him."

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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