By Matt Fisk: It didn’t take San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham long to get injured after having played in only one game following his return to the team from the PUP list. Manningham is coming off of a torn ACL from last season, and he finally was able to play last Sunday in the Niners 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but it looks like Manningham might not be able to play against the New Orleans Saints (7-2) this Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.
If Manningham does play, it’s expected to be limit. In place of Manningham will be 3rd year wide receiver Jon Baldwin, who the Niners received traded for from the Kansas City Chiefs in return for giving them struggling wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.
Baldwin reportedly looked good in the Niners practices this seek and he has head coach Jim Harbaugh raving about how good he’s been looking. Harbaugh said to csnbayarea.com “He had a tremendous week this week in practice – very competitive. You love a guy who’s going to give you everything he’s got. And that’s what we need.”
Perhaps one reason why Baldwin is suddenly looking good is that Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is looking in his direction more after having received a ton of criticism from the media about being a one-read quarterback, especially from ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer. He’s noticed that Kaepernick tends to look at mainly one guy on pass plays and if that player is covered, he tends to take off running without looking at the side of the field where Manningham or Baldwin is.
What makes Baldwin so good is his size. At 6’4″, 230 lbs., he’s got the size to power through press coverage that the Niners receivers have been receiving this season, and he’s able to catch a lot of the high passes that Kaepernick throws due to his huge size.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Kaepernick will be able to throw to Baldwin this Sunday because he may fall into the same trap he’s been in with him looking at just tight end Vernon David or wide receiver Anquan Boldin on every down while ignoring Baldwin.