Shortly after Randy Moss arrived at the 49ers facility Monday for an apparently banner tryout, CEO Jed York mused about his team's glaring void.
"We need someone to stretch the field," York said.
Moss is up for that task, officially emerging from a one-year hiatus to sign a one-year contract Monday night with last season's NFC runner-up.
"I want to get back to what I do, and that's playing football and stretching the field," Moss said on a conference call.
Stocking up their thin receiving corps was among the 49ers' top offseason tasks. It still might be despite the addition of Moss. One man, much less a 35-year-old outcast, likely can't transform a passing attack that ranked 29th in the league last season.
"I can still play at a high level," Moss, a 13-season veteran, added. "I look forward to learning the offense. I'm ready to bring the fans out of their seats."
Moss spent six hours at the 49ers facility and caught passes from coach Jim Harbaugh, whom Moss said "can still wing it, even at his old age."
Because he did not play in 2011, Moss was able to sign immediately with the 49ers rather than wait for the start of the new league year at 1 p.m. Tuesday, as will be the case for most free agents.
"We are pleased to add a player with Randy's wealth of experience to our receiving corps," general manager Trent Baalke said. "Randy's productivity over the course of his career speaks for itself. We look forward to
integrating him into our system."
The 49ers' next order of business is re-signing quarterback Alex Smith, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent even though both sides have expressed the desire to renew their vows. Smith told CBS 5 on Sunday he is amenable to a three-year deal and that details are being finalized.
"Alex is trying to figure out what he wants to do," York said. "There've been good conversations back and forth. Hopefully Alex gets everything locked up soon.
" ... We want Alex here."
Asked if he's been tempted to pursue Peyton Manning, York responded: "It's not my choice. It's up to the coach and Trent of what they want to do. I'll fully support them."
York also deferred to Harbaugh and Baalke regarding whether the 49ers should add Moss, whose 153 career touchdown receptions are tied with Terrell Owens for second-most in NFL history behind Jerry Rice's 197.
Moss cited "personal reasons outside of football" for his 2011 absence. He last played in 2010 for three teams: the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans.
He launched a comeback last week, first working out for the New Orleans Saints before arriving at the 49ers' doorstep Monday.
"From what I saw, he looked good," running back Anthony Dixon said of his childhood idol. "You have to account for him whenever he's on the field. Everybody knows that."
A six-time Pro Bowler, Moss is five years removed from arguably the greatest of his 13 seasons. That came in 2007, when he eclipsed Rice's record with 23 touchdown catches for a Patriots team that went undefeated before losing in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
Before joining the Patriots that season, Moss toiled for two years with the Raiders, tallying 11 touchdown catches in 19 games for a team that had a combined six wins in 2005 and 2006.
His reputation in ruins, Moss was dealt by the Raiders to the Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick. He made no qualms Monday about his return to the Bay Area.
"Thing about me being here, they've done their research on me," Moss said. "When it comes to worldwide sports media, I've gotten a bad rap. They've done their homework on me or they wouldn't have brought me in here. ... It's more about being a team player."
Moss joins a 49ers team that stunningly went 13-3 and won the NFC West in Harbaugh's first campaign. They lost at Candlestick in the NFC Championship game, 20-17 in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants, and Michael Crabtree had the only catch (for 3 yards) among 49ers wide receivers.
The 49ers' offense struggled in the air and ranked 29th with 182.1 passing yards per game. The team finished last in touchdowns scored when penetrating its opponents' 20-yard line (16 touchdowns, 25 field goals in 45 red-zone trips).
Braylon Edwards, a wayward vet signed to a one-year deal before last season, failed to find the end zone before getting cut with one regular-season game remaining. The 49ers can only hope Moss doesn't follow that path.
Moss' speed and leaping ability could serve as the desperate complement to a unit that relied last year on Crabtree (72 receptions, 874 yards, four touchdowns) and tight end Vernon Davis (67 receptions, 792 yards, six touchdowns).
Davis was among a flood of 49ers who took to Twitter and embraced Moss' arrival. "Wanna reach out & welcome my new teammate," Davis posted.
Before Moss' arrival, Crabtree and Kyle Williams were the only wide receivers on the 49ers' 2012 roster who caught passes last season. Joshua Morgan and Ted Ginn Jr. are slated to become unrestricted free agents.
Moss said he studied the 49ers' "upside" and fell in love with Harbaugh's enthusiasm shortly after being picked up from the airport Sunday night.
"It was a no-brainer for me to come and play for the 49ers," Moss added. "I look forward to the challenge to make things happen."
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