Another Super Bowl hero largely forgotten. That is the reality for Mario Manningham as he tries to work his way back from tearing the ACL and PCL in his knee. In his absence his roster spot has come under siege by an invasion of receiving talent that doesn’t figure to go away whenever he does get back on the field. Considering his contract is up in 2014 that could mean another trip into NFL free agency. If teams are willing to look past the recent health issues, where could the young receiver end up next?
San Francisco 49ers seem content with A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton
It really is unfortunate when one thinks about it. Not only did Manningham end the season with just one catch (which he fumbled) in a three-game span, but he injured his knee in the last game of the season before the San Francisco 49ers made their run to the Super Bowl. One of the reasons they signed him in the first place was because of his experience in how to win that game. One might say they missed that experience when they lost to Baltimore. Now Manningham didn’t just miss out on the big game, he could miss out on his job. In his absence the 49ers have done some remodeling to their offense. They traded for Anquan Boldin and drafted Quinton Patton. Together with 2012 first round pick A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco coaches feel they have more than enough already. Never mind the fact top receiver Michael Crabtree is out with an Achilles injury. Where does that leave Manningham? In a very precarious spot. Even when he returns there is no guarantee he sees the field, especially if Jenkins and Patton make plays early.
Jets need a lot more weapons for Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith
That could then mean he may have to start looking for a new home in 2014. The wide receiver class of free agents is shaping up to be a good one next March but if trends hold true then Mario should know where to go. His great achievements took place in New York. He still has connections there. It makes too much sense for him to make a return there, except this time with the New York Jets. In simple terms the team is starved for help at wide receiver. Top star Santonio Holmes still hasn’t returned from his Lisfranc injury to his foot. In his absence head coach Rex Ryan has gotten a good look at reserves like Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Jordan White. To say it is an ugly sight so far is an understatement in his mind. Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith can’t put out an effective battle for the starting quarterback job if their receivers can’t catch the passes. It has gotten so bad that the team is hosting veteran free agent Mike Sims-Walkers, a washout from Jacksonville. If Mario Manningham can’t win the starting job from any of those guys then his time in the NFL is very short.
It all depends on how the 49ers choose to move forward after the 2013 season.