Working with the first-team offense at practice on Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham made a big-play touchdown reception. Even though the TD was at practice, it was a cause for celebration from fellow players as the Niners have a big weakness at receiver.
[Related: Photos from 49ers First Practice in UK]
Manningham returned to practice a week ago and he is working his back to come off San Francisco’s Physically Unable to Perform List. However, don’t read too much into Manningham running with the first-team offense as he will not be available to play on Sunday. There is no official timetable for his return, but he could be activated after the bye week and play against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.
Mario tore two knee ligaments in Week 16 of last season and he has not played in a game since.
Jim Harbaugh gave some indication as to when Manningham might return. He said the fact that the wide-out is making TDs at practice puts him on track to return sooner, rather than later.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about Manningham’s TD grab and how it affected the players.
[Alex] Boone and everybody else felt it was time to have an eruption and we had a celebration on our own field welcoming him back. Everybody just went nuts.
Mario looks good. Mario is a guy that has really good understanding of football. He’s a guy we’d probably use the word savvy to describe. I really like how he runs routes. How he understands leverage as the play develops.
The touchdown catch at practice is a great sign for Niner fans as the offense is in desperate need of another legitimate receiver not named Anquan Boldin. This season, Colin Kaepernick has thrown for 961 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions to Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis. Throwing to all of the other receivers, Kap has a dismal stat line of 459 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
There have been reports San Francisco has inquired about trading for Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon and New York Giants wide-out Hakeem Nicks. If Mario can return after the 49ers bye week, in addition to Michael Crabtree returning in the next month or so, the team might not need to trade for another receiver. The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 29, 4 p.m. ET.