Wide receiver Mario Manningham is back for the San Francisco 49ers, and could make an immediate impact.
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That’s the hope anyway. Coach Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers are still looking for a reliable No. 2 receiver to complement Anquan Boldin — and San Francisco has the league’s lowest-ranked passing offense.
Manningham was activated Monday from the physically unable to perform list to the 53-man roster and will be available for Sunday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers, 6-2 and riding a five-game winning streak following their bye week, also waived cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and activated cornerback Eric Wright from the reserve/non-football injury list.
Manningham made 42 receptions for 449 yards and one touchdown in 12 games and 10 starts last season before injuring his left knee in a loss at Seattle Dec. 23. He underwent reconstructive surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments.
He has been practicing for two weeks, regularly with the first-team offense, and the Niners had until Tuesday to decide whether to add him to the 53-man roster from the PUP list.
”Mario looks good. Mario’s a guy that’s got really, really good understanding of football,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said during the recent trip to London. ”He’s a guy that we would probably use the word `savvy’ to describe. Really like how he runs routes. How he understands leverage as the play develops. And he’s looking good, working hard. And he’s looking good.”
Harbaugh said last week he hadn’t yet allowed himself to think about what the offense might look like with Manningham and top 2012 wideout Michael Crabtree — due back sometime this month from right Achilles tendon surgery — returning to the field.
The 32-year-old Asomugha began the season as San Francisco’s No. 3 cornerback and started in a Week 1 win against Green Bay, then played the next two games but hasn’t seen the field since Sept. 22 and had only two tackles. He also dealt with a knee injury, but was inactive the past three games even once healthy again.
Following a largely disappointing two-year tenure with Philadelphia, Asomugha had envisioned a successful new start in his 11th season while back in the Bay Area after he played for California in college, then the Oakland Raiders. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers earlier this year.
Wright signed a one-year contract in early August and was placed on the non-football injury/illness list while he handled a personal matter, the 49ers said. Wright had been traded to the reigning NFC champions in July for a conditional draft pick in 2014, but he failed his physical, nullifying the deal. Tampa Bay then released Wright.
Shortly after the trade, reports surfaced that Wright had been arrested a week earlier in Los Angeles on an unspecified misdemeanor charge. General manager Trent Baalke said the team was aware of the situation.
Wright was arrested in 2012 on felony DUI charges and was suspended for four games last season by the NFL for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy in his first season with the Bucs. He finished with 37 tackles and one interception in 10 games, all starts.
The 28-year-old Wright, a San Francisco native in his seventh NFL season, signed a five-year, $35.3 million contract with Tampa Bay last year.