NEW ORLEANS — Randy Moss isn’t camera shy — he just doesn’t care for the media. His 49ers teammates laud his veteran leadership, and the wide receiver was refreshingly candid during Media Day for Super Bowl XLVII on Tuesday.
He’s 35 years old and has clearly lost a step — or two. Moss caught just 28 passes for 434 yards during the regular season despite playing in every game. His previous career-low for a full season was 60 in 2005, and he had never before failed to top 1,000 receiving yards in a 16-game season, much less than 500.
To say Moss has embraced his reduced role as a playmaker would be an overstatement, but he does appreciate his importance to the 49ers’ offense even when he’s not catching the ball.
“I don’t like my role, I really don’t,” he said. “I like to be on the field playing football. I understand that my presence out on the field, I don’t always have to touch the ball to be able to help the offense score touchdowns.
Like I said, I don’t really like that, but it’s something that I’m used to. I have to grow to understand and grow to like it. I’ve always been a team player. I’ve never been about self.”
Moss does have an opinion about his place in football history.
“I think now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said. “This year has been a down year for me, statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and then in Oakland was a down year. I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field. I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game.”
That quote quickly made the rounds on the blog circuit, but that’s not the essence of what Moss was about Tuesday. And it certainly wasn’t the vibe he brought to the 49ers over the offseason after sitting out the 2011 season.
After a difficult 2010 season in which he caught just 28 passes while playing for three different teams, Moss decided to sit out the following year to focus on his family. He returned this season to chase that elusive Super Bowl ring, and has served as a mentor on a young 49ers team.
“He’s just been a great influence,” said 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith. “You get there in the morning, and he’s already out there running. It has been great to see how he goes about his business.”