Mario Mannigham, WR #14
Hometown: Warren, Ohio
Experience: 4 years
Mario Mannigham’s name will always be linked to Superbowl XLVI. However, both the 49ers and Mannigham are hoping that last year’s big game was just the start of his career highlight reel. After a modest college career at Michigan, in which he finished with 137 receptions (ninth all-time), 2,310 receiving yards (fifth all-time), and 27 touchdowns (fourth all-time), Mannigham skipped his senior season and declared himself eligible for the NFL in 2008. Off field issues caused his stock to plumet, resulting in the New York Giants selecting him 95th overall, and the rest to be determined.
After an uneventful rookie season, Mannigham proved that he could contribute in the wide receiver position, with 18 regular season touchdowns over the next three years, but the emergence of rookie sensation Victor Cruz lead to a drop in Mario’s porduction in 2011. After a quiet regular season, Mannigham woke up for the playoffs, finishing the postseason with three touchdowns, and of course, his improbable, jaw dropping, game-sealing Superbowl catch.
Mannigham has been missing in action most of this preseason, dealing with the death of his grandfather, and will understandably not be at full speed to start the year. However, much like his role last year with the New York Giants, he should be rounding into form to have his biggest impact in the playoffs, where his experience and clutch gene will be both needed and relied upon.
Mannigham is not the fastest or tallest wide receiver in the league, but he brings consitency to a position that has had no threat the past few years. His arrival means there is now a level of competition that was lacking in previous seasons. With several viable options to claim the top reciver position, someone is going to have to earn it, and Mannigham has waited four long years for this very opportunity. Mario Mannigham and the 49ers are a perfect match. Both enter this year with something to prove, as last year was just a glimpse into thier full potential. And both the player and the team will have October 14, 2012 circled on their calandars as a date for redemption against the Giants.
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Jerrell Richardson is a sports fanatic who grew up in the Bay Area experiencing both the ups and downs of local sports. He attended college at San Diego State University and has had the ability to witness every major sports team in the state of California in person. His work can be found on Examiner.com.