Eli Manning

San Francisco 49ers sign Manning … ham

The off-season that just won’t quit got a little bit — wait — a lot better for the San Francisco 49ers, who signed Mario Cashmere Manningham to a 2-year deal. Manningham was the No. 3 receiver on the New York Giants, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be the No. 1 receiver on the Niners. Hell, Randy Moss could be the team’s No. 1 receiver, and he spent the last year filming UStream videos.

I’ve been kind of busy with Spring Training and trying to parse the Warriors’ moves of late, but when the 49ers were rumored to be in the mix for Manningham, Brandon Lloyd and Chaz Schilens, Manningham seemed like the logical choice. If the 49ers are going to position themselves as a playoff team for the foreseeable future, why not get a receiver who caught 3 touchdown passes and made the best catch in the Super Bowl since David Tyree went crazy with helmet stickum?

Is it a coincidence that Manningham, like Jim Harbaugh, is a Michigan guy? Probably, unless it turns out that Manningham took less than market value over the next two years. But Manningham’s no Braylon Edwards. Quite the opposite, actually. Edwards was a No. 1 who never won anything. Manningham was instrumental to the New York Giants’ championship run and is hungry to prove he’s a No. 1 (and get out from under the shadow of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz).

Some who compare Manningham’s regular season production over the past two years (1,467 yards and 13 TD) to Lloyd’s (2,414 yards, 16 TD) and see that Lloyd signed with New England might complain quietly (because calling out Harbaugh and Trent Baalke for their decision-making isn’t kosher these days). However, the Patriots are a little too willing to take on character risks these days. Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Randy Moss … wait, forget that last one for obvious reasons.

From brother to brother? 

— Manningham didn’t sign with the 49ers because he knows something everyone from Chris Mortensen to your next-door neighbor is trying to find out. This has nothing to do with Peyton Manning. Well, it might have something to do with Peyton, unless it was a huge financial offer from the Niners that kept him away from the St. Louis Rams, who really wanted to add Manningham.

— Now that the 49ers have two second-tier receivers (in terms of career numbers) in Manningham and Michael Crabtree, a future Hall-of-Famer in Randy Moss, and Kyle Williams, all they really NEED (different than WANT, mind you) on the receiver side is a guy who can return kicks and provide depth — something they can easily get in rounds 2, 3 or 4 of the NFL Draft.

— Which brings us to back to the 49ers’ need for both offensive line depth (which every team needs) and a starting right guard whose skills can’t be graded out as “meh.” Now that San Francisco’s wide receiver group is larger than two players and has more than one player who opposing defensive backs have heard of for reasons other than concussability, it stands to reason that the draft could look like this:

1. O-line

2. CB

3. WR

4. Long snapper O-line

5. TE

6. DE (to convert to FB)

7. FB (to convert to DE)

 

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