Mario Manningham Fits Right In


Without having to say a word, Mario Manningham's wardrobe did the talking.

Manningham, San Francisco's 6-foot, 185-pound free agent addition, approached the team's media tent Saturday at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP wearing baggy fleece sweats and slippers. The outfit, in essence, painted a perfect picture of the 49ers wide receiver's transition to his new teacm.

"I'm getting it down, trying to get better every day," Manningham said when asked about his early experience with the 49ers. "I'm just trying to learn something new every day. I'm trying to learn the big picture of the offense, not just my position."

It's not hard to see Manningham is quite comfortable in San Francisco. And in turn, the 49ers are at ease having the former New York Giant wideout as one of many talented additions made this offseason to the team's receiving core.

"Quickness, explosiveness, a very polished receiver," said cornerback Tarell Brown on the player teammates affectionately refer to as, "'Rio."

"I think he's very swift in and out of his breaks," Brown added.

So swift, Brown said Manningham's movements off the line resemble Tim Hardaway's trademark basketball move: The cross-over dribble.

When Brown faces Manningham in one-on-one wide receiver-defensive back drills, Brown said, "It's like he's crossing over with a basketball out there. You really have to be patient and he makes you patient out there when you're guarding him every day."

Whether lining up at the "X" or "Z" wide receiver positions in Greg Roman's offense, though he's mostly lined up on the ball as a flanker (X), Manningham has relished the spirited battles against the 49ers defensive backs. Most in the group were more than familiar with Manningham's talents based on his two matchups against the 49ers last season which included a 17-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game.

"When I go out there against a DB, we're all a team now, but I'm trying to win," said Manningham, who has recorded 160 receptions for 2,315 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in 49 career games. "I'm trying to get the best of you. It's competition, friendly competition, but still we're all men out there and we want to win."

Manningham wants to beat defensive backs in every drill he can, but he's not as competitive with fellow wide receivers. Knowing that the team has a deep cast of pass catchers in this year's camp, Manningham isn't putting his production in front of team goals.

"We've got a bunch of good receivers and there's only one ball, if we've got to run the ball the whole game to win, that's perfectly fine with me," Manningham said. "I'm all about the team."

Manningham has appreciated the West Coast offensive system he's learning in San Francisco. And, he's finding himself playing faster on the field without having to over-think his responsibilities.

Another aspect of Manningham's smooth transition is the fact that he's receiving constant mentoring from a future Hall of Fame wide, receiver Randy Moss.

"I try to pick his brain about every little thing knowing he's seen so many different coverages," Manningham said. "He's played with different quarterbacks, played in different offenses. I just try to look at the big picture of everything and not just what we have to do. I ask him about details, just seeing different things how to get off the jam or how to attack different angles."

The 49ers wideouts know there's more work to be done. Based on the defense's strong showing over the past two days of camp, the offensive playmakers are eager to respond.

"We're not where we need to be right now but we will be," Manningham said. "I feel like every day is a course you have to take to get better, whether you have a bad practice as a unit or have a bad practice as an individual, it's something you have to work on every day, get better, and we have to get better in all places."

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