Mario Manningham Would Turn San Francisco 49ers into a Deadly Offense

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIMarch 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 13:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants has this pass go off his fingertips against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game at Candlestick Park November 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 27-20. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco have tough defense—last year they proved that was a certainty, but in comparison, the offense falls far behind.

Don't get me wrong, Alex Smith is a great quarterback who proved that he can engineer victories when the game is on the line, but compared to the defense, the Niners offense is weaker.

2012 could be the year of change with Alex Smith at the helm.

The 49ers have all but ruled out chasing Peyton Manning, stating that Smith is the man to move their team forward. And when you consider that they were two punting mistakes away from the Super Bowl, you've got to say it's a fair point.

It's also a fair point to state that their passing attack stalled at times last year.

For a team ranked third in total defense, they ranked 29th in their aerial attack.

Only Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert and the injury-riddled St. Louis Rams had a worse passing attack on paper.

At times, the problem was Smith's passing inefficiency, like the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants, which saw him complete one of 11 passes on third down.

Other times, the problem was the skill of his receivers.

Teams need their go-to-weapon—the player that even with a one-on-one situation, can still make a big catch and game changing play.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San F
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You think of players like Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker and A.J. Green.

You don't think of the 49ers' wide receivers.

Michael Crabtree may have led the team in receiving yards, but he did also only manage three touchdowns in the process.

Vernon Davis was the savior of the 49ers team, with the tight-end chalking up nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns, as well as four touchdowns in the postseason.

Along with the running-back duo in Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, Davis was the go-to-guy for they simply didn't have the threat at wide receiver.

As I said, 2012 could well be the year of change.

We know that Randy Moss is heading to San Francisco, attempting to prove to many that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.

If he does, Alex Smith has another weapon in his arsenal.

The big question now is whether or not Mario Manningham will also land in San Francisco.

Manningham can make big plays on the football at clutch moments in the game, as I'm sure the 49ers are all too aware of—his touchdown catch late in the NFC Championship and his ridiculous catch along the sideline in the Super Bowl.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants makes a catch on the sidelines against Patrick Chung #25 (L) and Sterling Moore #29 (obscured) of the New England Patriots for a gain of 39 yards in the fourth quarter during Sup
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In New York, Manningham wasn't even considered in the top two receivers.

In San Francisco, Manningham could become the number one, depending on whether Crabtree's efficiency improves and whether Moss can get it all going again.

Both Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have an excellent eye for talent, and you can be sure that they'll seriously consider making the Giants Super Bowl hero one of their own for next season.

The only question is—just how good will the 49ers be?

We know their defense is incredible and we know that Frank Gore leads one of the most explosive running attacks in the league.

We know that Smith can throw the football if he needs to—for that, look no further than the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round.

What we don't know just yet is whether or not consistency can manifest itself in the 49ers passing attack and if Mario Manningham is the right man to start that process.

Read more articles by Dan here or follow him on Twitter: @dantalintyre


    Amari Cooper Traded to Cowboys 🚨

    NFL logo

    Amari Cooper Traded to Cowboys 🚨

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Peterson 'Desperately' Wants Out of AZ

    NFL logo

    Report: Peterson 'Desperately' Wants Out of AZ

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Ex-Panther Carruth Released from Prison

    NFL logo

    Ex-Panther Carruth Released from Prison

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    49ers Would Have Won Against the Rams If...

    San Francisco 49ers logo
    San Francisco 49ers

    49ers Would Have Won Against the Rams If...

    Niners Nation
    via Niners Nation