One of the major issues six games into the 2013 season for the San Francisco 49ers has been the fact that Colin Kaepernick has really only been able to rely on two pass catchers week in and week out when he drops back to pass. One is tight end Vernon Davis and the other has been Anquan Boldin. Their play has, at times, made up for what has been a very thin wide receiver corps as their play in several games has been nothing short of sensational.
Well on Tuesday, the 49ers got closer to adding some quality depth at the wide receiver position as Mario Manningham was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and began to participate in full practices. Manningham suffered a torn ACL and PCL in the 49ers Week 16 game against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 season, and as a result, the reason he has not seen the field so far in 2013.
While it is very probable that Manningham will not even be close to being ready for the upcoming Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans, his return is a major and much welcomed boost for the 49ers, and in particular, for Kaepernick and the offense. For starters, when Manningham is able to play and is active, he will automatically add much-needed depth to the wide receiver position. As a result, this will make Boldin’s ability to be the No. 1 wide receiver much easier and free him up on more pass routes.
In addition to Boldin benefiting from the return of Manningham, wide receivers like Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin and Marlon Moore will benefit as they will be lined up back into more familiar roles as the third and fourth wide receivers. Another beneficiary of the return of Manningham will be Davis. He will benefit from the return of Manningham with the wideout’s ability to run middle to deep passing routes, which will open up the middle of the field for Davis to be able to operate with less traffic and coverage on him.
The final beneficiary of Manningham’s return is Kaepernick. For Kaep, Manningham will represent another reliable pass-catching option which he can rely on and throw the ball to, and thus, will help Kaepernick’s ability to make progressions and improve his play overall.
While it is most likely that Manningham will not feature until the Week 10 game against the Carolina Panthers after a bye week, his eventual return is going to give the 49ers a much needed boost and reliable pass-catching option.