EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** After leaving the Giants to join the San Francisco 49ers following Super Bowl XLVI, Mario Manningham had more knee surgeries (two) than touchdowns (one).
"It's going really good," Manning said after another day of on-field rehab work. "Just being patient, getting strong and I'll be ready by camp.
"I'm going to be alright when camp starts, just trying to build the confidence back. Every day and every week it gets better."
Moments later, Manningham forcefully clarified his position.
"I'm not worried at all," he said. "Rehab is not like I'm just sitting around and not doing anything. That's my whole point of getting back on the field – rehab, doing something every day and every week to make my knee stronger."
Coach Tom Coughlin was more reserved, saying, "It's the post-surgical rehab that we knew was going to be the issue. Hopefully, he'll be okay for camp."
Manningham began his first tour of duty with the Giants when he was selected on the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft. In four years he played in 49 regular-season games with 28 starts. He caught 160 passes for 2,315 yards (a 14.5-yard average) and 18 touchdowns.
In four postseason games he had 13 catches for 89 yards and three scores.
But Manningham is perhaps best remembered for his remarkable 38-yard reception to start the Giants' game-winning drive in their Super Bowl XLVI victory over New England. He caught Eli Manning's pass right in front of the Patriots' sideline and somehow kept his feet inbounds despite tight coverage. Bill Belichick challenged the call on the field, but it was upheld on review.
"I hope he can make a play like the last time he was here," Coughlin said.
"He's a little bit behind, just not running anything yet or being out there with us," Manning said. "Obviously, we have to get him healthy first, and I think he can definitely (help). He's a veteran guy, knows what he's doing, knows how to get open. He should be able to help us out."
First, Manningham's knee must cooperate. In his first season with the 49ers in 2012, Manningham played in 12 games before tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee at Seattle on Dec. 23. He underwent surgery, was placed on injured reserve and missed San Francisco's run to Super Bowl XLVII (where the Niners lost to Baltimore).
Last year, Manningham began the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. He was activated on Nov. 4 and played in six games – starting three – and caught nine passes for 85 yards and no touchdowns.
Now he's trying to restart his career where he won a Super Bowl ring and enjoyed so much individual success.
"You have to overcome everything," Manningham said. "Everything isn't set up to be the way that you want it. I had injuries, I'm going to deal with it, but I'm going to do what I have to do to come back like (I was when I) I left.
"It isn't frustrating at all. Injuries are part of the game. If you're going to play this sport and you're going to play at a high level, you're going to get nicks and bruises. I'm just going to do what I have to do to tighten up. I'm looking forward to camp. It's not frustrating right now because I know what I can do. I'm just trying to get myself right so I can do what I've been doing and that's making plays and playing ball."