Jim Harbaugh mentioned the word “career” when asked about Mario Manningham today, in essence saying Manningham would consult with physicians before deciding whether or not to return this season. The decision was probably made before today’s press conference however, as the 49ers announced that Manningham was placed on the injured reserve list about an hour later.
Manningham never looked quite right this season, compiling just nine receptions for 85 yards in six games after his return from knee surgery. His injury in Week 16 against Seattle last season looked rather serious at the time, and that’s what turned out to be the case as he tore both the ACL and PCL in his left knee. Based on Manningham being listed on the injury report last week due to knee trouble and getting IR’d today after the 49ers made him inactive against the Falcons, his knee probably never fully healed.
In his place steps Quinton Patton, who was activated for the first time in several weeks on Monday night against Atlanta. Patton was on the field for 18 snaps, including 14 pass plays, and wasn’t targeted by Colin Kaepernick. Kassim Osgood somewhat surprisingly registered his first reception of the season on Monday night, a 17-yard catch on 2nd-and-18.
Patton, who Harbaugh said would be active against the Arizona Cardinals, will probably be the No. 3 wideout as long as he can handle the job — although the 49ers will probably use more one- and two-WR formations than anything else. Osgood will get some chances on the rare occasions when the 49ers go to a four-WR set, as the 49ers seem to be less than enthused with Jon Baldwin’s progression since acquiring him in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs (A.J. Jenkins has five catches for 63 yards for the Chiefs, two more receptions and 35 more yards than Baldwin’s season totals).
Another player who may get a look, especially if one of the receivers on the 53-man roster gets injured, is Chuck Jacobs. An undrafted free agent from Utah State, Jacobs earned a spot on the practice squad after catching six passes for 74 yards and two scores in the preseason.
Manningham had 42 receptions for 449 yards and a touchdown last year in 12 games, as well as three rushes for 64 yards. He’s a free agent after this season, but with a bad knee and numbers that have decreased in each season since he had 944 yards and nine touchdowns for the Giants in 2010, his career may be coming to an end.