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  • Ben Margot / Associated Press

    Running back Brandon Jacobs says he "ironed it out" with Jim Harbaugh over his game readiness.

  • Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

    Wide receiver Mario Manningham says the 49ers brought him in to "move the chains."

Manningham to get chance to play against former team, but Jacobs might not

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 - 7:37 am

SANTA CLARA – Wide receiver Mario Manningham on Thursday was as vivacious and engaging as he's been since arriving with the 49ers, laughing, cracking jokes and saying his role with San Francisco is better than it was with his old team, the Giants.

"They put me in position to move the chains," he said of the 49ers. "That's what I'm here for – move the chains and make plays."

Manningham's former New York teammate, Brandon Jacobs? His transformation from Giant to 49er has been stuck on pause.

On Wednesday, the big running back was decidedly downcast. He told USA Today he's been healthy enough to play the past two weeks, said he didn't know why he's been on the sideline and admitted it would "disappoint me a lot" if he didn't get to play against the Giants on Sunday.

After meeting with coach Jim Harbaugh – and being prepped by a public-relations staffer – Jacobs struck a different tone Thursday, telling reporters that getting healthy and being productive later in the season trumped everything else, including facing his former team.

Jacobs injured his knee Aug. 18 but returned to practice Sept. 26.

"We ironed it out," Jacobs said of Harbaugh. "We got it done. I understand where coach is coming from. Coach understands me, with him playing football, and understanding the athlete and the competitive nature of wanting to get out and help the team win. And not only that, against a former team. But in this case, the former team isn't important. What is important is the long run."

Jacobs, who often complained about his role while in New York, said he had a "rare opportunity" to be 100 percent healthy. He said he could play against the Giants if called upon.

"But would it be smart? No," he said.

Jacobs may be a victim of the 49ers' success. Their roster is loaded with quality veterans, and they are astoundingly healthy after five games. Only three players – Jacobs, punter Andy Lee and quarterback Alex Smith – are on the injury list this week, and all three have practiced in full.

Jacobs, who does not play special teams, is the fourth tailback behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon, who is a core special-teams player.

That is, the 49ers haven't needed Jacobs, and there is no reason to get him back on the field, especially if he still is rehabilitating from the knee injury.

Manningham, meanwhile, has started the 49ers' past two games along with Michael Crabtree.

He was on the opposite sideline nine months ago when, in the NFC championship game, the 49ers completed only one pass to their wideouts for three yards. He was part of an offseason effort to bulk up that position, and he's been a major contributor so far this season.

As Manningham's memorable 38-yard catch in the Super Bowl illustrated, he's excellent at snagging passes along the sideline, and most of his receptions with the 49ers have taken place there.

"Great body control, understanding where he is on the field," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's got great feet, so he can tap his toes, drag his toe – very good balance."

Manningham ranks third on the 49ers in catches and receiving yards, and he scored his first touchdown in red and gold Sunday. Manningham also has proven to be an elusive ball carrier, gaining 57 yards on two attempts.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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