Mario Manningham reiterated that he would have liked to have returned to the Giants but understood the business aspect and why he is now a 49er.
“Just knowing the business part of this system about football, yeah, you know I would have wanted to come back but I’m not and that is in the past,” Manningham said in a conference call with San Francisco reporters. “And I won a Super Bowl with those guys and I give them all the credit for teaching me things and winning with them but this is my [new] team and everyone knows the path I am trying to take.”
Manningham said he was close to signing with the Rams prior to joining the Niners. He visited with both teams and chose San Francisco. The Giants were not going to spend a lot to keep Manningham with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz higher on the depth chart. The Giants eventually will have to pay those two down the road as well.
Manningham was looking for an opportunity to shine as a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver and he believes he can be a “game changer” in San Francisco’s offense. Manningham likes the Niners’ offensive line and the running game. He praised Frank Gore and quarterback Alex Smith.
“I feel like I can come there and make an impact and be a great addition to this offense,” he said. “Michael Crabtree has very good talent and Randy Moss and a couple other of the wide receivers.”
Manningham hit it off with Niners coach Jim Harbaugh. Both are former University of Michigan football players.
“I’m glad we have a connection like that,” he said. “I hope he knows my toughness and what I can do and the game changer that I am.”
Manningham signed with the Niners last Saturday. At the time, Peyton Manning was still in play for the Niners before the quarterback chose the Broncos. Manningham said he chose the Niners regardless of what Manning was going to do.
“I thought he was coming to the 49ers but he didn’t,” Manningham said. “We have Alex Smith and he is a great player. So try to come in and change the game. I knew [Manning] was a possibility but I wasn’t picking them because of that.”
One major attraction of San Francisco was the idea of playing with another great defense like the Niners.
“There is a great defense on the other side of the ball, I know I can come in and make plays,” Manningham said. “I know I can make an impact, God-willing, I can come in there and learn the playbook and make a difference. They [Niners defense] swarm and hit you and cover you. I feel like they got the best linebacking corps in the league, if not the best. They have athletic defensive backs, the D-line, they are all real good.”