In an offseason in which the 49ers were looking to get better on offense, the 49ers added wide receiver Mario Manningham who is fresh off a Super Bowl Championship. The former New York Giant signed a two-year deal with San Francisco who was desperately in need of receiver help. Before the offseason began, I already had a strong belief in the front office's ability to evaluate and value talent.
Considering how they approach things, one has to believe that Manningham could thrive in the 49ers west coast offense. He could wind up becoming Alex Smith's favorite target in 2012, with his ability to make pretty miraculous catches and take a short route into a huge gainer. He's got speed and quickness, and despite his shorter stature at 6'0" even, Manningham can stretch the defense.
Like his new head coach Jim Harbaugh, Manningham is a Michigan guy and wanted to emphasize his toughness. Manningham comes from a team in the New York Giants who have had pretty solid receivers for almost the past decade. He's someone that's going to fight for yards and should be expected to take the opportunity to start very seriously -- an opportunity that was never really floated his way in the NFL as of yet.
Michael Crabtree has been "eh" for most people; shining at some points and completely disappearing at others. Randy Moss is only around for a one-year deal and might not be an every down receiver -- it's plausible that he takes certain downs off. Manningham could come through having a bigger role and impact than expected.
It's also feasible that Manningham could play his well into a long-term contract with the 49ers. Plenty of undervalued, shorter stature players have been difference makers in this league. Guys like Victor Cruz, Steve Smith (CAR), Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson have been dominant threats at the receiver position and Manningham could shine next year and join them.
He's shown he can be a playmaker on the big stage, and he's a competitor. I will yet again this offseason be hoping that what the 49ers have done will have a positive affect on Crabtree; once again hoping he finally breaks out and finds himself in this league. I feel whatever Crabtree cannot do, or is not doing, Manningham will.
Manningham is also more levelheaded, so if Moss loses his marbles this season, we could see a Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham dynamic begin to surge. But hopefully that won't be the case, and I personally don't believe it will.
But even though I was I hesitant about having Manningham, it comes back to believing in the front office, where guys like Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh are making the decisions. These two know what they're doing and if they think Manningham can play, I believe them. I think what pushes Manningham the most is that he knows San Francisco is still waiting for someone to step up and take control of one of the receiver spots.
He will be motivated by the chance to be an NFL superstar and experiencing a whole new line of credit that he never had before because the Giants receiving corps was always stacked. He can step up and shine as an individual and prove to be what was the missing link to the 49ers offense. If he's the 'gold star' guy the 49ers think, they could be that much closer to a 6th Lombardi Trophy.
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