Mario Manningham limped through the locker room on crutches, holding a towel around his waist while trying to keep his head high and sport a smile.
That’s not easy to do for the 49ers right now.
Manningham is out for the season with a left knee injury after getting tackled low by Leroy Hill and fumbling in the third quarter of San Francisco’s 42-13 loss at Seattle. The injury to Manningham, one of San Francisco’s signature additions in the offseason, is yet another blow to an increasingly thinning wide receiver corps.
Kyle Williams already is lost for the season with a left knee injury and tight end Vernon Davis did not participate in Wednesday’s practice while he recovers from a concussion.
With so many injuries to key receivers, the 49ers (10-4-1) will rely more than ever on Randy Moss and first-round pick A.J. Jenkins to support top threat Michael Crabtree, starting Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (5-10) in the regular-season finale. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh also said Ricardo Lockette or Chad Hall will likely be promoted from the practice squad.
“That group will have to step up,” Harbaugh said.
The loss of Manningham is a significant setback for a team that counts on Crabtree as its only healthy wide receiver with more than 26 receptions this season.
NOTE: Defensive lineman Justin Smith was not on the practice field Wednesday during the portion open to media. His streak of 185 straight starts ended when he sat out with an elbow injury at Seattle, and his status for the playoffs remains ?murky.