Although he'll still only be 28 years old when the 2014 season begins, Manningham's football career appears to be on the downswing. He's been hampered by injuries and has only played 18 games with the 49ers in the two years since he and the Giants parted ways. Now reunited with Eli Manning, Manningham's greatest asset is his familiarity with the quarterback from whom he's caught 18 of his 19 career touchdown receptions. Thanks to the Giants hiring a new offensive coordinator in Bob McAdoo, the experience Manningham had working under former OC Kevin Gilbride likely won't come into play, but the new system is something that the entire offense has to deal with.
Weaknesses:When Manningham played for the Giants from 2008 to 2011, his biggest strengths were his speed and his ability to elude defenders after the catch. Now that injuries have taken away some of that athleticism, he'll have to focus on being a better route runner than he was in his first stint in New York. Manningham used to get the ball on a lot of fly routes and bubble screens, but this time around he'll have to be more of a technician to convince Manning to put the ball in his hands. Staying healthy should obviously also be a major focus for the veteran, but that's something that always easier said than done.
Career Highlight:No matter what Manningham does for the rest of his football career, he likely will be most remembered the brilliant over-the-shoulder catch he made on a crucial fourth quarter play in Super Bowl XLVI. The Giants were starting a drive from their own 12-yard line with 3:46 to play in a game that the Patriots led 17-15. On first down, Manning lobbed a pass down the right sideline that landed in Manningham's hands at midfield with just enough room for the receiver to get his feet inbounds. The 38-yard strike set up the Giants to push across the game-winning score later in the drive.
After two injury-plagued seasons, Manningham doesn't bring a ton of upside to the Giants' wide receiver corps, but his experience should prove valuable for a squad that is relatively young. With Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan being expected to take on much larger roles than they dealt with in 2013, having a guy like Manningham who can take the younger players under his wing should prove valuable. He should also be able to fill-in when the Giants need him to and see regular time in three- and four-receiver sets.