Manningham gives 49ers' offense reason to celebrate

Matt and Mindi: Will Manningham play Sunday?

Manningham gives 49ers' offense reason to celebrate
October 24, 2013, 7:45 am
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Mario Manningham suffered a torn ACL and PCL in last season's Week 16 loss to the Seahawks. (AP)

HERTFORDSHIRE, England – The 49ers are still looking for their first touchdown in a game from a wide receiver other than Anquan Boldin.

This week, they got one on the practice field. And it provided everyone with a reason to celebrate.

Wide receiver Mario Manningham, who began practice last week while remaining on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Wednesday against the scout-team defense.

And everyone took notice.

“(Alex) Boone and everybody else decided it was time to have an eruption,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “We all had a celebration on the field.

“They didn’t physically lift him up, but everybody just went nuts, welcoming him back.”

Manningham has not played since sustaining tears to the anterior-cruciate and posterior-cruciate ligaments in his left knee late last season. His surgery was delayed about a month to wait for the swelling to subside, pushing back his return to the playing field. Manningham was placed on PUP to open the season, making him ineligible to practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.

He returned to the practice field last week, opening a 21-day window during which the 49ers can activate him to the 53-man roster at any time. The 49ers are expected to create roster space for Manningham at some point before playing the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 9 at Candlestick Park. After Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium, the 49ers return to the Bay Area and have a bye week.

“It’s hard to tell right now,” Roman said when asked about when Manningham will be ready for a game. “It’s day to day. He’ll just continue to work day to day and we’ll be evaluated day to day.”

There is little doubt the 49ers can use Manningham’s contributions. Last year, he was second among the 49ers’ wideouts – behind Michael Crabtree -- with 42 catches for 449 yards.

“Mario’s a guy who’s got a really good understanding of football,” Roman said. “He’s a guy we’d probably use ‘savvy’ to describe. I really like how he runs routes and how he understands leverage as the play develops. He’s working hard and looking good.”

Said 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, “I can’t wait for him in action. I know he’ll help the offense a lot.”

Manningham, listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds, used his time rehabilitating his knee injury to work on his strength in the weight room.

“It’s funny last season he talked about getting in the weight room and getting big like me and (NaVorro Bowman),” Willis said. “He’s had the injury and he’s been able to rehab and put on some muscle mass.

“I still tell him he has a ways to go. (But) in his mind, he feels big."