SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Years ago, there was the so-called Randy Ratio, where the Minnesota Vikings sought to get wide receiver Randy Moss the ball a certain amount each game. Now, Moss has introduced the 49ers to what one might call the Randy Olympics.
Almost like clockwork, Moss hits the swimming pool at the 49ers' facility each day to help keep his 35-year-old body in tiptop shape.
And his 49ers teammates also are taking to hitting the pool.
"If Moss is doing it, you got to do it, especially as a young receiver," rookie wideout Chris Owusu said. "You want to emulate everything that he does because he's been to the top, he's a Hall of Fame receiver, so you got to go out and do what he does."
Owusu said his time in a swimming pool before Moss arrived was limited to rehab sessions.
These days, Owusu is learning the benefits of swimming laps, holding his breath and working multiple muscles at one time.
Owusu said the swimming has helped increase his endurance and lung capacity, while providing another outlet for him to bond with his new teammates.
"Not only getting closer, but you're getting better at the same time," Owusu said.
Guard Mike Iupati spent some time in the pool last season. He used to be able to swim freely without fear of running into another swimmer.
Now, it's not uncommon for 30 or more players to be in the pool at one time. Moss, who didn't speak to the media on Tuesday, orchestrates competitions that include races and seeing who can hold his breath the longest.
"He has helped a lot and showed, especially the receivers, what to do," Iupati said. "Get in the pool, you need to swim laps and hold your breath. It's a huge benefit."
Safety Donte Whitner says he and others can learn from Moss in myriad ways.
"You can just watch him each and every day," Whitner said. "He's one of the first guys here, one of the last guys to leave, he's always in the cold tub, he's always swimming in the bottom of the swimming pool we have in there, steam room, sauna, ice tub."
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith not only is practicing again but also is talking about playing in one of the remaining two exhibition games.
Smith suffered a left hip injury against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 10 and returned to practice only Monday. On Tuesday, Smith spoke with the media for the first time since he went down early in the exhibition opener.
"I'm all right," Smith said. "Really, I'm healing up fast, I'm on track. I'll be good."
Smith said he is hopeful of playing either Sunday against the Denver Broncos or Aug. 30 against the San Diego Chargers. A strong case could be made for the 49ers shutting down Smith until the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against the Green Bay Packers.
Smith showed no lingering effects from his injury in practice Tuesday, as he sidestepped his way through a lateral-movement drill with ease and participated in other drills without limitation.
- Running back Brandon Jacobs (left knee) and cornerback Chris Culliver (undisclosed) were among six players not present at practice during the media access period.
- Running back LaMichael James (left ankle) returned to practice and appeared to be moving around well three days after being carted off the field late in the 49ers game in Houston.
- Sight of the day: Linebacker Patrick Willis collided with fullback Anthony Dixon during a one-on-one blocking drill, knocked back Dixon and ran around him for a sack.
- Whitner and Dashon Goldson are set as starting safeties. Beyond that, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio isn't sure how things are going to shake out.
"We're looking to see who our third, fourth and possibly fifth safety (are), and we need for that to clear itself up," Fangio said. "And hopefully guys will step forward and make it easy. Right now, it hasn't been an easy decision for us there."
C.J. Spillman, Darcel McBath, Trenton Robinson, Mike Thomas and Colin Jones are in the mix.