SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Under the harmonious reign of coach Jim Harbaugh, even a couple of enigmatic receivers are thriving as locker-room leaders.
Harbaugh hailed Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree as selfless, team-oriented players a day after the 49ers improved to 2-0 with a 27-19 victory over the Detroit Lions.
The 49ers' next stop is Sunday in Minnesota, where Vikings fans might struggle to recognize Moss, the former high-maintenance superstar who has reinvented himself as a lunch-pail player with the 49ers.
Moss has yet to make a peep about his limited role, and Harbaugh doesn't expect that to change.
“Nobody around here ever gets caught up with ‘The Guy' terminology,” Harbaugh said. “It's about us. It's about the team. With Randy, there's no evidence that he's concerned about having ‘The Guy' tag.”
Moss had just two passes thrown his way against the Lions (one resulted in a 14-yard catch and the other drew a defensive pass-interference call). In the opener against the Green Bay Packers, the six-time Pro Bowl selection was on the field for just 21 of 67 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
That's apparently fine with Moss, who hasn't spoken to the media since Sept. 6. After all, the 49ers are 2-0 for the 18th time in franchise history and look like the team to beat in the NFC after victories after the Packers and Lions.
“(Moss) knows football,” Harbaugh said. “He knows that the team that plays best is going to win the game. And he's been about that.”
Crabtree, too, seems to be shedding his image as self-absorbed. Once labeled by a rival coach as a “diva” and the owner of the longest rookie contract holdout in 49ers history, the receiver celebrated his 25th birthday last Friday by delivering a motivational speech to his 49ers teammates.
“It was a strong message-a real strong message, a team-oriented message,” Harbaugh recalled Monday. “Michael is a great leader, in my opinion. He's the kind of guy who fixes things behind the scenes so that it's not for public consumption.”
Crabtree caught six passes for 67 yards against the Lions, including a pivotal 16-yard catch on a third-and-14 in the fourth quarter. That was one of three third-down conversion catches for Crabtree.
After reviewing the film, Harbaugh again praised the 6-1, 214-pound receiver for banging out extra yards after the catch.
Crabtree leads the 49ers with 13 catches for 143 yards.
“The way he plays. You can tell he's about ‘us'. He's not one of those ‘it's-about-himself' kind of guys,” Harbaugh said.
“Great in the locker room. Great study habits. Tough. Has talent. Can do it when the chips are down. Can suck it up and get the job done for you.”
-There's not much for any player to complain about in the 49ers offense, which has been balanced and efficient over its first two games. The 49ers started the day third in the NFL in rushing yards (167 per game) while Alex Smith ranked third in passer rating (115.9), trailing only Monday night passers Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.
The defense, meanwhile, ranked 11th-an impressive standing considering the potency of its first two opponents. Kevin Smith led the Lions with 53 rushing yards Sunday, marking the 21st consecutive home game in which the 49ers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher, the longest current streak in the NFL.
-Though they lacked the theatrics of last year's handshake gone wrong, Joe Staley's postgame jabs underscored the bad blood between the 49ers and Lions.
Staley said he savored the 49ers dominance up front after his team averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
“I think it was the key for our offensive line to handle it because (the Lions) like to be cheap after the play and they think that makes them physical,” Staley said. “We stuck with them and chased them down the field and set the tone early. We let them know that we were not going to let them do that, and they were a little taken back by that.”
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz responded to those remarks at his Monday news conference in Detroit: “You win the game, you say whatever you want.”
-Actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson were on the sideline for Sunday's game. Harbaugh said he likes to have “extraordinary people” around the team, and he has arranged for several military leaders to visit.
High on Harbaugh's wish list are Muhammad Ali and Willie Mays, two of the greatest sluggers of all-time.
-The 49ers improved to 12-0 when Smith starts and has a passer rating of 100.0. This marks the second time in his career Smith had back-to-back games with a passer rating over 100.0. (He did it previously against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay last season.)
-The 49ers' opening touchdown drive against Detroit took just 1 minute, 12 seconds, marking their fastest opening TD drive since scoring on their first play Dec. 24, 2005 (16 seconds).
-Gore's 45 career rushing TDs tie him for third with Ken Willard on the 49ers' all-time rushing list. He trails Roger Craig and Joe Perry, who share the team record with 50.