SANTA CLARA – A surging 49ers team with one of the most loaded rosters in the league grew a little stronger Monday when wide receiver Mario Manningham and cornerback Eric Wright were added to the 53-man squad.
To make room, the team cut ties with veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was a healthy scratch for the past three games.
Manningham tore his left ACL and posterior cruciate ligament in a loss to the Seahawks last Dec. 23. He began the season on the physically unable to perform list and resumed practicing three weeks ago. He looked sharp and quick during the team's recent sessions in England.
Manningham mostly served in a complementary capacity last season. It's unlikely he'll jump into a true No. 2 wideout role opposite Anquan Boldin right away.
Still, Manningham was the second-most effective 49ers wide receiver behind Michael Crabtree last season, and he plays the only truly threadbare position on the roster.
San Francisco's passing attack ranks 32nd in the NFL. Boldin leads the 49ers with 38 catches for 551 yards and two touchdowns. The other wide receivers have offered little, combining for 16 catches, 142 yards and no touchdowns.
Wright, meanwhile, has been on general manager Trent Baalke's radar for some time.
The 28-year-old from San Francisco can play outside cornerback and in nickel coverage. The 49ers could be scheming for him to take over the do-everything role Carlos Rogers, 32, has supplied the past three seasons.
Rogers starts at cornerback and moves inside to the nickel spot when opponents bring out three or more wide receivers. He has been very good this season but has a contract the 49ers consider unwieldy.
They wanted Rogers to restructure his deal earlier this season, but he refused, wagering that the 49ers would not cut him. When Chris Culliver tore his ACL in training camp, Rogers' gamble paid off.
But as it stands, his salary cap figure will be the highest on the team in 2014, and the 49ers will search for alternatives.
Rogers is not the only cornerback whose spot is tenuous for next season.
Tarell Brown, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox and Wright are scheduled for free agency in March. Culliver is coming back from the knee injury. Another, undrafted rookie Darryl Morris, has stood out on special teams but has little NFL experience on defense.
Asomugha, 32, signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract and began the season as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback. A knee injury allowed Brock – who is seven years younger than Asomugha – into the lineup, and Brock immediately made big plays against the Rams and Texans. Asomugha has recovered from the injury.
If another team claims Asomugha off the waiver wire, it will pick up the remainder of his salary. Asomugha worked out for New Orleans and 49ers in the offseason, and he has a history with Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan from their time in Oakland.
The 49ers released wide receiver Marlon Moore (Natomas High School) and linebacker Nate Stupar last week. Moore signed with the Dolphins on Monday, and Stupar was claimed by the winless Jaguars. Jacksonville lost to the 49ers on Oct. 27 in London.
San Francisco had wanted to bring Stupar back to the practice squad.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.