Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers free agent wide receiver Randy Moss (84) during organized team activities at the San Francisco 49ers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
SANTA CLARA, CA - It's still early, but Randy Moss is off to a good start with the San Francisco 49ers.
And that includes winning over the locker room.
Moss, 35, is back for a 14th NFL season after sitting out the 2011 campaign -- and with a history of sometimes disrupting the flow as a malcontent.
"I've heard all the stuff that everybody else was saying before he came in," 49ers DE Justin Smith told USA TODAY Sports after Tuesday's practice. "I was kind of curious to see for myself. But he's been a cool, down to earth guy."
Moss is with his fifth NFL team, including two stints with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2010, when Moss publicly expressed dissatisfaction about his contract status with the New England Patriots, he was traded to the Vikings. Weeks later, the Vikings cut him and he finished the season with the Tennessee Titans before announcing his retirement.
Some of his new teammates sense that Moss is re-energized, joining a team that advanced to the NFC title game last season.
Moss, who has limited his access to media, declined an interview request with USA TODAY, according to a club spokesman.
Smith said Moss -- who set the NFL single-season record for receiving TDs with 23 for the Patriots in 2007 and the rookie mark with 17 for the Vikings in 1998 -- told him that he isn't concerned about accolades but came back with the mission of winning a Super Bowl for the first time in his career.
"We're on the same wavelength," Smith said.
Moss' leadership for a group of young receiver has particularly impressed Smith, a 12th-year veteran and all-pro choice last season.
"I've watched him take the younger guys under his wings," Smith said. "He's in there swimming laps. Now he's got all of them in there swimming. He's been the ideal guy to bring in, the type you'd bring in to be a mentor, even if he didn't play. But on top of that, he can still play."
Mario Manningham, the fifth-year pro who came over from the New York Giants this season as a free agent, is among the younger receivers who have tapped into Moss' experience. Manningham didn't know Moss until they became teammates this year.
"I probably ask him the most questions, out of all the receivers," Manningham said. "Some players are probably like, 'I'm not going to ask him anything. He probably thinks he's this or that.'
"Forget that. I want to learn, man. I know he's seen so many different things, played against so many DBs. I want to know, 'How to get off this (coverage)?' Or, 'When you look at the safety, what are you thinking?' Little stuff like that. I won't let my pride get in the way."