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Manningham Flashes Big-Play Ability in UK


There was a team-wide celebration at Wednesday's 49ers practice in England.

Mario Manningham caught his first touchdown of the year. Although it took place in a workout prior to San Francisco's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars – it was still significant enough to cause an eruption.

Manningham returned to practice last week and could soon be activated off the team's Physically Unable to Perform List. He's been working with the first-team offense in England and continues to show his play-making ability to coaches and teammates.

Jim Harbaugh said the six-year veteran is close to being added to San Francisco's 53-man roster. Touchdowns in practice point to Manningham being on track to return soon.

"Mario looks good," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said on Thursday. "Mario is a guy that has really good understanding of football. He's a guy we'd probably use the word savvy to describe.

"I really like how he runs routes. How he understands leverage as the play develops."

Roman then went on to share Manningham's touchdown in practice and how it created a swell of emotion from the team, starting with starting right guard Alex Boone.

"Boone and everybody else felt it was time to have an eruption and we had a celebration on our own field welcoming him back," Roman said. "Everybody just went nuts."

Joe Staley echoed the comments of Roman and noted how the 6-foot, 185-pound wideout has been working hard to overcome the knee injury that occurred in Week 16 of the 2012 regular season.

"Mario's been working really hard," Willis, the 49ers team captain said. "I feel like he's been a good receiver for a while. He's battled some injuries but he's worked his tail off."

Willis even recalled how Manningham has been looking to build up his physique during his time away. The athletic wideout wanted to bulk up like Willis and fellow All-Pro inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

"He'd always talk about getting big like me and Bo, and when he had the injury he's been able to rehab and put on some muscle mass," Willis said with a grin before adding, "I'm still telling him, 'You got a ways to go.'"

Willis is looking forward to the spark Manningham can add to a 5-2 team in the remaining weeks of the regular season.

"To see him out there running routes really well, I can't wait for the opportunity to see him back out there in action," Willis said. "I know he'll help the offense a lot."


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