49ers Mailbag: How will Manningham, Crabtree change offense?

49ers Mailbag: How will Manningham, Crabtree change offense?
October 27, 2013, 9:00 am
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It's hard to predict how effective Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree will be when they return from injuries, but if healthy they could help Colin Kaepernick in play-action situations. (AP)

LONDON – It’s gray and windy at Wembley Stadium, but the conditions did not prevent the delivery of another 49ers Mailbag.

How can we expect the offense to evolve once Manningham and Crabtree come back? Will it turn back to more passing oriented as we saw earlier this season or stick with the run and jumbo packages as we have seen lately? (@Joe)
It will be interesting to see how the 49ers’ offense adapts with Colin Kaepernick at the controls. That’s because Kaepernick has never really distributed the ball to a second wide receiver.

Last year, he locked onto Michael Crabtree. And through seven games, he has been feeding Anquan Boldin almost exclusively. (Tight end Vernon Davis, obviously, also sees a lot of passes go his way.)

Mario Manningham will be available for the Week 10 game against the Carolina Panthers. He will be activated to the 53-man roster before the Nov. 4 deadline. Overall, Manningham was a solid No. 2 last season for the 49ers, so he should provide an immediate upgrade over the group of wideouts the 49ers currently have suiting up for games.

Then, Crabtree will return a few weeks later. Jim Harbaugh said he expects Crabtree to be available in mid- to late-November. He’ll probably practice for a couple weeks – three weeks, maximum -- before the 49ers suit him up for games.

Of course, we don’t know how effective Manningham (knee) and Crabtree (Achilles) will be – or how long it will take them to really work themselves into the offensive picture -- upon returning from their injuries.

Regardless, I do not believe the 49ers will stray from their power-running mentality. They are not a spread-it-out team. And with this offensive line and Frank Gore, that is not going to change. But the addition of better receivers will allow Kaepernick to be more effective in play-action situations.

Why are the 49ers putting in its time and money rehabilitating Wright's career when there is no guarantee he will resign? (@Teddy)
The 49ers believe cornerback Eric Wright is a tremendous talent. And when they signed him on Aug. 8, they did so with the belief that at some point he could help them win football games this season.

Originally, Carlos Rogers' spot on the 49ers was tenuous. The 49ers asked him to take a pay cut. He declined. And it was a good move for Rogers because the 49ers were not going to get rid of him once Chris Culliver sustained his season-ending knee injury.

The 49ers showed a lot of understanding and patience with Wright, who had to take care of a personal issue before joining the team in late-August. They will have sole negotiating rights with Wright until the opening of free agency, and the belief is that he could be a starter for the 49ers next season.

Does LaMichael James have a long term future with the 49ers considering all the depth they will have at the running back position? (Gore, Hunter, Dixon and Lattimore) (@Shannon)
Even when the 49ers drafted James in the second round last year, they never thought he was an every-down back. But the team started thinking about having more of a three-headed monster at running back with Frank Gore’s career beginning to wind down.

Well, Gore shows very little signs of wearing down. And Marcus Lattimore is expected to be healthy for next season. James will get on the field as soon as he can beat out Kendall Hunter for the No. 2 job. That doesn’t seem likely to happen any time this season – or next. James' other avenue to contribute would be winning the confidence of the coaching staff as a punt returner. That has not yet happened, either.

[RELATED: James among 49ers' inactives]

But, as we saw last year, James always must be ready. There is no way to predict when there will be a situation that calls for someone a few pegs down on the depth to step into an important role.

How do you see the Niners using Tank Carradine... occasional Breather for Justin or regular fill in? (@wsirwin33)
Carradine will be on the 49ers’ 53-man roster for the game after the bye week. Depending on how he’s practicing that week, he may be one of the 49ers’ seven inactive players.

But, eventually, Carradine could become a big contributor. That’s because nobody is certain how Ray McDonald’s right biceps is going to hold up through the remainder of the season. He sustained a partial tear of the upper biceps tendon a few weeks back against the Houston Texans. He will undergo surgery after the season.

If McDonald is not able to maintain strength in his right arm, Carradine could be called up to see more and more playing time as the second half of the season progresses.

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