Moss set to make return to Minnesota


Moss set to make return to Minnesota

SANTA CLARA -- Wide receiver Randy Moss will make his first appearance at the Metrodome on Sunday as a member of the visiting team when the 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings.

Moss spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Vikings after being chosen No. 21 overall in the 1998 draft. He returned briefly in 2010, catching 13 passes in four games before getting released.

On Wednesday, he spoke to reporters for about seven minutes. Here's what he had to say:

On his return to Minnesota:
"I'm just very fortunate to go back to where it all started. We had some great times in Minnesota, so I look forward to hearing the Metrodome rock. Now I'm with the away team, and I look forward to a good game."

Does it make a difference to you what kind of reaction you get from the fans there?
"Nah, not really. I'm a 49er. I think my Minnesota Viking days are over. So just going in as a 49er, like I said have some success and have a good game. That's what I plan to do."

There's been a lot of talk about how much playing time you're getting. Where do you stand on that? Are you concerned?
"No, I'm not. Next question."

During your introduction in the Lions game you said you were from Rand University? Is that a shout-out to your hometown?
"That's my whole community, man. I think in order to get to know me, you got to come back to my hometown, where I'm from to really understand what drives and pushes me to be able to be the best. There were some hard times coming out of Rand, West Virginia. Just showing my people love. Showing the kids love that no matter what I've accomplished in life, I still got love for my hometown."

Do you allow yourself to reflect on your days with the Vikings this week?
"(Laughs) I got my teammates in here messing with me . . . But, I just think my focus now is playing for the 49ers and being the best 49er I can be. I was drafted by coach Dennis Green, and I'm still appreciative to this day that he gave me an opportunity with all the nonsense and B.S. that was said during the draft. He gave me a chance. I'm still thankful for Dennis Green for giving me a chance to showcase my talent. As far as the past, it's the past. I look forward, and not backward."

What's the biggest thing that sticks with you during your time with the Vikings?
"I just think being able to be around guys who had a name. To see Randall McDaniel and John Randle go to the Hall of Fame. I played with those guys. I've been in the locker room, I've won with those guys, I've lost with those guys. To be able to practice with them day-in and day-out, and for them to receive a prestigious honor as making it to the Hall of Fame, man, it just felt good because I know those guys, not really personally but kind of personally, as teammates. I think that's the biggest thing that stands out to me. Now, the guys making to the Hall of Fame, I've either played with them or played against them. It's just something big to see John Randle and Randall McDaniel make it to the Hall of Fame."

Do you appreciate the passion of those fans, whether they boo you or cheer you or some of both on Sunday?
"One thing about praises and boos, obviously, you're doing something right. I think I can hang my hat on that. You hear the applause, of course you do. You hear the boos, but I think the boos, being negative, put more pressure on you to go out and hush that noise up. I look forward to hearing both. Like I said, I'm a 49er now, and hopefully we can go into the Metrodome and come out of there 3-0."

Do you keep track of how Percy Harvin is coming along and your influence on him?
"No, not at all. Percy is a heck of a receiver, a heck of a football player. He's real hard-nosed and he's very tough. That's one thing I really noticed about him when I was up there, how he goes about his business. He blocks. He runs after the catch very hard. You can't really tell if he's a receiver or a running back when he touches the ball. So I'm a big fan of Percy's. I was a big fan of his when he was at the University of Florida, and it's not going to stop now. Like I said, there are still a couple guys over there . . . I played with Adrian Peterson in my second stint in Minnesota. Like I said, history is history and the past is the past and I'm a 49er now. I just look for what I can do for this team."

After going through offseason program and training camp, to see yourself and your teammates put together two complete performances, any surprise the 49ers looked so sharp in the first two weeks?
"My motto has always been, if you put the hard work in, the hard work does pay off. They work the hell out of us here. I didn't really have a day off in training camp. I didn't really have a day off in teaching school or minicamp. So my focus was to come in and work, work, work, work and keep working. And like I said, hard work pays off. And being 2-0, just shows you how hard we worked because we played two good teams. We played the Green Bay Packers. They're a good team, playoff team. We played the Detroit Lions, playoff team. So our first three games, luckily happen to be the NFC North, so like I said, we're going to go to the Metrodome and see how the chips fall."

Do you feel like the Super Bowl is the one thing missing on your resume?
"Well, I'm not really thinking about Super Bowl, but that really is the only thing missing on my resume. You got to take it one game at a time, one day at a time, one practice at a time. We put the work in. It's too early to say, third week, where we're going or where we're headed. The only thing we can do is to come out here and get better each day and hopefully we keep going up."

What did Michael Crabtree show you last Friday when he brought the team together and said this offense needs to match this defense, and then he went out and made some key catches?
"Well, Crabtree's been through a lot in his career. I've always said I love sports, I'm a sports fan. I do pay attention. I don't really read the stuff you all write, but I do have ears and I do have eyes. But Crabtree has been through a lot. For him to be able to come out and -- I know it's early in the season -- but he's having a pretty good season so far. For him to stand up and bring us together and said, like you said, the offense has to match the defense . . . and then to come out here and make plays, that's something you can really hang your hat on and follow a guy like this."

You obviously didn't seem interested in talking about your number of snaps. Why is that?
"Because it's really not up to me. Like I said, I come out here and practice every day and when called upon, I just go out there and try to make a play. It's not up to me.

"Thank you."

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4