49ers WRs Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree both practiced Wednesday, signaling that reinforcements for what has been a lackluster 49ers wide-receiving corps so far this season are not far away.
Manningham, who is coming back from two torn knee ligaments suffered Dec. 23, is farther along than Crabtree and is likely to play in some capacity Sunday against the Panthers. He was not listed on Wednesday's injury report and practiced in full. "The knee I had surgery on is better than the other one," he said after practice. "So I'm not thinking about that when I'm out there."
Crabtree tore his right Achilles' tendon on May 21. He wore a blue, non-contact jersey in practice and acknowledged he was easing his way back into his first practice. He didn't run routes at full speed and was noticeably cautious about leaping - and landing - for high passes.
The 49ers cleared Crabtree for practice on Tuesday, which triggered a 21-day window for bringing him from the physically-unable-to-perform list to the 53-man roster.
Manningham may be back this week, but we're not too optimistic about his upside as the #3 receiving option (after Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis) in a run-heavy offense. As for Crabtree, he's expected back in Week 13 (vs. the Rams), but he could return sooner. He has the Seahawks and the Buccaneers in Weeks 14-15 before a date with the Falcons in Week 16.