John Froschauer / Associated Press

Mario Manningham is carted off the field after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 49ers' loss to Seattle on Sunday.

Injuries grow for 49ers receiver corps

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 - 10:53 pm

SANTA CLARA – A 49ers squad that spent the offseason bulking up its receiving corps again finds itself thin at the position with the playoffs approaching.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday the team will be without Mario Manningham, who suffered torn ACL and PCL ligaments during Sunday's loss in Seattle.

Manningham started 10 games this season and had the team's second-most receptions (42), trailing Michael Crabtree's 77. The 49ers lost another wideout, Kyle Williams, to a torn ACL last month.

Left standing: Crabtree, Randy Moss, Ted Ginn and first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins, who has been lightly used to this point. The team also could elevate one of two receivers, Ricardo Lockette or Chad Hall, from the practice squad later in the week.

"Yeah, those are possibilities," Harbaugh said of Lockette or Hall. "We'll give that a real good look this week."

The 49ers had hoped to avoid tapping their practice squad for depth this season. They had to do that last year with undrafted rookie Joe Hastings after parting with Braylon Edwards and when Ginn got hurt. That left the 49ers with little punch at the position in the postseason, and there was only one catch by a 49ers wideout – by Crabtree for three yards – in the NFC Championship Game.

In the offseason, the team signed Moss and Manningham in free agency, re-signed Ginn and spent the 30th overall draft pick on Jenkins.

That firepower is dwindling, though the passing attack still is better off than it was a year ago. That's due mainly to Moss, who has had a bigger role as the season has gone on and who, at 35, still is a threat to make plays deep downfield.

Before Sunday, Manningham had missed the previous two contests because of a shoulder injury, and Moss had an increased workload as a result. He has 10 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the past four games after having five catches for 92 yards in the previous five games combined.

Moss has played in 12 postseason games – more than any other 49er – and the team was going to lean on that experience in the playoffs. Now the 49ers will need the 14-year veteran to perform on the field as well.

"There's been an added workload for Randy, and he's been handling it well," Harbaugh said.

The 49ers also need Moss because the other two receivers currently on the active roster, Ginn and Jenkins, have been nonfactors this year on offense. Ginn has two catches for one yard, while Jenkins still is looking for his first regular-season catch.

In fact, the practice squad receivers have more experience than Jenkins.

Hall, for example, appeared in 15 games for the Eagles in 2010-11 and made one start. The 5-foot-8, 187-pound Hall played receiver and running back in Philadelphia and also has experience as a punt returner.

The 49ers added him in late November, but Hall on Wednesday noted that the Eagles and 49ers run a West Coast offense and he'd be able to step in if called upon.

Lockette is one of the most physically gifted 49ers, having run the fastest 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in 2011.

The 6-2, 211-pound former track star played football at Fort Valley State and was picked up as an undrafted free agent by Seattle last year. He spent the first 13 games last season on the Seahawks' practice squad but was activated Dec. 22 and had a 44-yard reception against the 49ers the following game. He also had a 61-yard touchdown catch the next week against Arizona, the longest reception of 2011 for Seattle.

As members of the practice squad, Hall and Lockette mostly have been used to mimic opposing receivers in practice. This week, Hall is portraying Cardinals wideout Andre Roberts, and Lockette is operating as Larry Fitzgerald, the second time he has had that role this season.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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