During the 2007 season, Randy Moss caught 98 passes for a career-high 1,493 yards and a career-high 23 touchdowns for Bill Belichick's Patriots. Despite far more modest statistics this year from Moss, Belichick said the wide receiver has the same attributes with the 49ers as he did through 3 ½ seasons with the Patriots.
"I think Randy looks like Randy," Belichick said in a conference call. "He's the greatest deep ball receiver I think that's ever played. Nobody runs better patterns, better at the deep part of the field than Randy Moss can. I still see him doing that.
"You have to respect his ability to stretch the field so deep and get behind you," he continued. "It's hard to take that away and defend everything else that he can do. So he's an explosive, dynamic player, the smartest receiver I've ever coached. I know he absolutely knows what he's doing, knows what the defense is doing."
Moss' deep-ball ability perhaps is another reason why Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers have turned to Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith. Kaepernick has the stronger arm of the two, and while he has yet to connect with Moss on a long ball, he's come close on two shots of 50 yards. Defenses see those attempts and must account for the deep pass when Moss is on the field. And that, in turn, opens the field for other offensive plays.
Asked whether he saw a parallel between the Smith-to-Kaepernick move and the one he made between veteran Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady in 2001, Belichick didn't exactly answer the question. Instead, he said Harbaugh knows best.
"And I think his record and his performance speaks for itself," Belichick said. " I'm sure whichever decision he makes is what he thinks is best for the football team. He certainly has the experience and the track record to go with it. He played the position. He knows as much about that position as anyone does."
- Matt Barrows