SANTA CLARA With cut-down day looming, the 49ers want to see what else A.J. Jenkins can do.
Jim Harbaugh on Sunday said the former first-round pick, who has played more snaps than any other 49ers wide receiver in the preseason, would be used in "some additional roles" this week, specifically as a kick returner.
Jenkins has one catch this preseason, and he fumbled immediately after that reception.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh revealed that one of their top receivers from last season, Mario Manningham, would not be available until mid-October at the earliest.
Manningham is recovering from an ACL injury suffered in Seattle on Dec. 23.
Like Michael Crabtree, he'll start the season on the physically unable to perform list, which means he cannot suit up for a game until the 49ers' Week 7 contest against the Titans at the earliest.
"It's going very well," Harbaugh said of Manningham's recovery. " He's really feeling now that he can put his leg in the ground and generate some power. It's exciting, and he's excited about it."
Another receiver, fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton, has been cleared for full practice this week. Patton injured a finger before training camp and had been unable to catch passes until late last week.
Wide receiver remains the fuzziest position on an otherwise robust 49ers roster this summer.
Harbaugh said that nothing has been "cemented" through two preseason games but that Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams and Sacramento's Marlon Moore, who started the last two games with Boldin, are fairly secure.
"I think everybody is in a very competitive role after those three," Harbaugh said.
Many of the receivers with whom Jenkins is competing for the final two or three roster spots can play special teams. That includes Williams and Chad Hall, both of whom also can return punts, as well as Moore and Kassim Osgood, who can play on coverage units. To this point, the team's kick returners have been LaMichael James, Perrish Cox and quarterback B.J. Daniels.
The other receivers in the mix are Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins, Chuck Jacobs and Ricardo Lockette.
Asked if Jenkins' draft status or the salary cap ramifications of cutting him factor in as far as whether he makes the team, Harbaugh said, "Things factor in, but it's long-standing football hasn't changed since the inception. The best players make the team."
Harbaugh said the 49ers were doing with Jenkins what they are doing with the rest of the players in training camp putting them in the best position to succeed.
"He's shown good things and is going to do some additional things this week, and (we'll) put him in some additional roles to see how he does with that," Harbaugh said. " He's competing and he's working hard, and usually when you do that, good things happen."
Teams must reduce their 90-man rosters to 75 players on Aug. 27. They must be trimmed to 53 players on Aug. 31.