Three and out: Pretending Jags are good, Manningham nearing return
The 49ers envision Michael Crabtree being ready to return from Achilles surgery in mid-to late-November. (USATI)
Editor’s note: Read Insider Matt Maiocco’s reports from the U.K. all week long as the 49ers gear up for their Week 8 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London
LONDON – While 49ers general manager Trent Baalke would not rule out the possibility of acquiring a veteran player at the NFL trade deadline, such a deal appears unlikely.
Whenever the subject of a wide receiver on the trade block around the NFL is broached – such as Josh Gordon, Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt – speculation has centered on the 49ers as a potential landing spot.
But the 49ers’ need at wide receiver is likely to diminish in the coming weeks with the expected returns to Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree from the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list.
When the season opened, the 49ers’ focus was on getting through the part of the season before Manningham and Crabtree are able to return.
The 49ers are expecting to activate Manningham to the 53-man roster so he will be available for the No. 9 game against the Carolina Panthers. He began practice last week after coming back from ligament tears in his left knee he sustained Dec. 23.
And the 49ers envision Crabtree being ready to return from Achilles surgery in mid-to late-November, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said recently.
The 49ers’ depth chart would look a lot different with Anquan Boldin, Crabtree and Manningham as the top three wideouts. And that has influenced the team’s thoughts about dealing a draft pick and paying the salary required to add another proven receiver to the mix.
“I think you have you have to look at that, and it plays a big role in what you can do and what you’re willing to do from a roster standpoint,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said Friday morning at the team hotel.
“Those are two pretty good football players.”
Baalke would have a tight window during which to consummate a trade before the 49ers’ return to the Bay Area, anyway. The club will arrive back home in the early afternoon on Monday. The trade deadline is Tuesday at 1 p.m. (Pacific time), leaving very little opportunity for the team to have a trade finalized after a physical.
But there's also no denying the 49ers have gotten little production from any wide receiver other than Boldin through the first seven games. Boldin leads the 49ers with 34 catches for 495 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Williams is second with 10 receptions for 101 yards. Jon Baldwin, Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton and Kassim Osgood have a combined five catches for 34 yards.
All that has led to rampant speculation about the 49ers’ interest in acquiring another pass-catcher.
“Honestly, the number of calls we’ve fielded isn’t any different this year than it has in the past,” Baalke said. “And the number of calls we’ve made this year isn’t any different that what we’ve done in the past.”
Yes, Crabtree and Manningham are expected to return, but how effective can they be after such significant injuries?
Crabtree led the 49ers last season with 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. Manningham caught 42 passes for 449 yards and one touchdown in just 12 games.
“We’re always looking at every position,” Baalke said. “Have we looked at different positions to upgrade throughout the course of this fall? The answer to that would be yes. But at the same time, we’re very comfortable with the players we have and trust go out on any given Sunday and compete and win with those guys at every position.”
Still, Baalke would not rule out the possibility that the pieces for a trade could fall quickly into place.
"You never know what tomorrow brings, with respect to personnel and the roster," he said. "We’re always looking."