The 49ers today added Mario Manningham and Eric Wright to their 53-man roster, moves that theoretically will boost what has been a limited wide receiving corps and give the team a glimpse at a possible cornerback for the future. Needing a roster spot, the team cut ties with veteran Nnamdi Asomugha, who had been a healthy scratch for the last three games.
Manningham tore the ACL and PCL ligaments in his left knee in a loss to the Seahawks Dec. 23. The wide receiver began the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list and began practicing with the 49ers three weeks ago. He looked sharp and quick during the team's recent practice sessions outside of London.
Manningham never was a full-time starter with the Giants and he mostly served in a complementary role last season for the 49ers. It's unlikely that he'll jump into a true No. 2 role opposite Anquan Boldin right away. Still, Manningham was the second-most effective 49ers wide receiver behind Michael Crabtree last year, finishing with 42 catches for 449 yards and a touchdown.
San Francisco's passing attack currently ranks 32nd in the NFL. Boldin leads the 49ers with 38 catches for 551 yards and two touchdowns. The other wide receivers on the roster have 15 catches for 142 yards and no touchdowns combined.
Wright, meanwhile, has been on general manager Trent Baalke's radar for some time.
He is from San Francisco, can play both on the outside and in nickel coverage and is 28 years old. The 49ers could be eyeing him to take over the do-everything role that Carlos Rogers has supplied the last three seasons.
Rogers both starts at cornerback and moves inside to the nickel spot when opponents bring out three or more wide receivers. Rogers has played well for the 49ers - and has been good this season - but will have a huge salary-cap figure next year. The 49ers wanted Rogers to reduce his salary this year. He refused, wagering that the 49ers would not cut him. When Chris Culliver tore his ACL, Rogers' gamble paid off.
Rogers is not the only cornerback whose spot is tenuous in 2014. Four others -- Tarell Brown, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox and Wright - are scheduled for free agency in March. Culliver is coming back from the knee injury suffered in training camp. Another, undrafted rookie Darryl Morris, has stood out on special teams this year.
Asomugha, 32, signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract and began the season as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback. But a knee injury allowed Brock - seven years younger than Asomugha -- into the lineup, and Brock immediately made big plays against the Rams and Texans. Asomugha has since recovered from the injury but has been a healthy scratch the last three games.
If another team claims Asomugha off the waiver wire, that team would pick up the remainder of his salary this season. Asomugha worked out for the Saints and 49ers this offseason and has a history with Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
The 49ers released receiver Marlon Moore and linebacker Nate Stupar last week. Moore today signed with the Dolphins while Stupar was claimed by the Jaguars. Jacksonville, which lost to the 49ers last week in London, had the No. 2 waiver claim. The 49ers had wanted to bring Stupar back to the practice squad.
-- Matt Barrows