Since we last saw Mario Manningham in a San Francisco 49ers’ jersey, the team suffered a devastating loss in the Super Bowl and got off to a rocky start for the 2013 season. Now on a five-game win streak, the 49ers are ready for the return of Manningham to spark their offense which is lacking depth at the wide receiver position. Manningham, recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season, could be activated to the 53-man roster this week after the 49ers released wide receiver Marlon Moore.
Manningham, who had 137 catches for 2,310 yards and 27 touchdowns as a collegiate wide receiver at Michigan, was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft by the New York Giants. Many teams considered Manningham “troubled” for his alleged marijuana use while at Michigan, failing two drug tests, and scoring a 6 out of 50 on the Wonderlic. Nonetheless, he became the starting wide receiver for the Giants in 2009 after an injury to Domenik Hixon. Manningham’s best season, statistically, came in 2010 when he made 60 catches for 944 yards and 9 touchdowns. The next season, Manningham won a Super Bowl with the Giants, after beating the 49ers in the 2011 NFC championship game. Manningham had 5 catches for 73 yards during the Super Bowl, including a critical 38-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
In 2012, Manningham signed with the 49ers. That season, he made 41 catches for 449 yards and 1 touchdown before tearing his ACL and PCL in a game against the Seattle Seahawks in December 2012. This season, Manningham was on the PUP list until being cleared to practice on October 15. During the week of practice prior to the Jacksonville Jaguars game, Manningham took snaps with the 49ers’ first team offense, catching a touchdown pass which caused the team to erupt in celebration.
Is that touchdown a sign of good things to come? Anquan Boldin is the only 49ers’ receiver to catch a touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick this season. The team must have other targets for Kaepernick if they want to compete with the Seahawks for the division title. Manningham’s return, along with that of Michael Crabtree, will hopefully fill the void for the 49ers’ offense. If Manningham is activated soon, perhaps he will be ready to play when the 49ers face their next opponent, the Carolina Panthers, at Candlestick on November 10th.
Sara DeBord is an NFL writer for www.footballandfutbol.com and www.baysportsreport.com.