The San Francisco 49ers will be counting on Mario Manningham this year more than ever after losing leading receiver Michael Crabtree for possibly the entire season because of a torn Achilles tendon earlier this week.
And while Manningham is not yet 100 percent recovered from a knee injury that curtailed his first season with the 49ers last year, he is confident he will be able to step in and help soothe Crabtree's loss.
"It's sad to see somebody get hurt that's a great value to our team," Manningham told SiriusXM radio via the 49ers' website, "but the next person has to step up. We all know injuries are a part of the game."
That next person is the 26-year-old former University of Michigan standout Manningham, who will be entering his sixth season in the league. In five years, he has 201 receptions and 19 touchdowns.
"I have started running and cutting and doing little things," Manningham said. "When you have knee injuries, you can't really take any time off. Every time I think about it, I'm trying to do something with my knee. I'm not rushing it but I am going hard on my knee."
In his first season with the 49ers after coming to the Bay Area from the New York Giants, Manningham caught 42 passes for 449 yards and one touchdown. But the former Super Bowl hero was inactive for three games because of a shoulder injury.
Then in Week 16, he tore his ACL and PCL and was lost for the playoff.
Manningham is making progress though, and has started to increase physical activity during his rehab. He did not predict when he would be cleared to return to full activities, but he said he would be prepared for that day.
"Whenever God wants me to come out and play, then when I'm 100 (percent)," Manningham said. "That's when I'm going to go out there."
Manningham and Crabtree are not the only 49ers receivers who are hurting. Veteran Kyle Williams also is recovering from a serious knee injury.