As a QB, Harbaugh is gathering Moss

Two weeks ago, the 49ers brought in recently unretired wide receiver Randy Moss for a workout. It...

Two weeks ago, the 49ers brought in recently unretired wide receiver Randy Moss for a workout. It was Jim Harbaugh who threw him all the passes. (John Kryk/QMI Agency)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

PALM BEACH, FLA. - Maybe San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have bothered scouting Peyton Manning two weeks ago.

Or re-signing Alex Smith last week.

Maybe he should have made his next quarterback ... himself!

Two weeks ago, the 49ers brought in recently unretired wide receiver Randy Moss for a workout. It was Harbaugh -- a former NFL quarterback for the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, among other teams -- who threw him all the passes.

It went well. Moss impressed Harbaugh and the Niners, and he signed a one-year contract that night.

"I think we threw about 48 passes, and we were 47-of-48, I believe," Harbaugh told me Wednesday morning, after he arrived a half-hour late to the NFC coaches breakfast with the media.

Harbaugh is now 48. And he sports the odd grey hair. But he still looks to be in great shape.

Alas, "Captain Comeback" has no more comebacks in him.

"I may be getting a little slower. In fact, I know I am. Weaker," Harbaugh said. "I threw a post to Randy, and I was feeling so good during the workout. It was going so well and I was like, 'Damn, we're clicking here!' At that point we were like 44 for 45. And I'm going to throw a post.

"I'm feeling good about myself, you know? And him. So I go back to throw a post and I took seven steps off a play-action fake. Because I was feeling good. So I threw it, and Randy had to slow down on the post -- not to the point where it was like a punt return he was catching. But he had to slow down enough to where he had to come to a stop to catch this post route."

When Moss came back to run another pattern, he flipped Harbaugh the ball and asked the 6-foot-3 coach if he'd taken a five- or seven-step drop.

"I said, 'I took seven -- I should've taken five.' Very, very astute by him," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said that during his playing days, his maximum throwing distance was 64 yards. Now it's 57. Not bad.

The one incompletion, by the way, was Harbaugh's fault.

"It was too far, it was a slant route that I threw out too far. Randy made me look good a couple of times. But it was an impressive workout by Mr. Moss. That was a lot of fun."

Harbaugh and his brother John, who coaches the Baltimore Ravens, moved around the Midwest continually as kids, following their dad, Jack Harbaugh, on his nomadic career as a college football assistant coach.

After a standout college career quarterbacking the University of Michigan, 1984-86, Harbaugh endured the wrath of Bears fans for seven years before they finally released him in 1993. At age 30, he caught on with the Indianapolis Colts and made a name for himself, nearly leading the previously sad-sack Colts to the Super Bowl.

"(Then) I had a third chance, and a fourth chance ..."

He finally retired in 2001 after stints with the Ravens, Chargers, Lions and Panthers.

Harbaugh seemed happy to be able give Moss his, what, fifth comeback chance? Of course Moss, now 35, is known for his less-than-teamlike behaviour during an otherwise spectacular NFL career, which ended embarrassingly in 2010 after failed stints with the Pats, Vikings and Titans.

"I just felt that this was a shot we wanted to take," Harbaugh said. "And Randy felt the same way. So here we are. It's exciting that we're at the beginning of a journey that we don't know what the outcome is going to be. But I've got a lot of hope that it's going to be really good for both of us, Randy and myself and the 49ers organization.

"Our dealings with him, our research -- we feel that the merits outweigh the risks. We feel like he has the ability to be a contributor in the National Football League, and to the San Francisco 49ers. It's that simple.

"I'd like to be a small part of it, selfishly. I'd like to see Randy put a stamp on a great NFL career, possibly a Hall of Fame career."

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