Harding's Mario, mates get acquainted
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Mario Manningham (82), of Warren, participates in a drill during practice Wednesday at Stambaugh Stadium. Assistant coach Ejiro Evero, left, watches.
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Warren Harding graduate Mario Manningham has become
a key contributor to his new team, the San Francisco 49ers
By Matthew Peaslee
Being home in Ohio has been a welcomed change of pace for San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone.
But even here, he can’t escape the trash talk.
“I can’t stand Glenville, can’t stand St. Ignatius. I’m sick of them,” said Boone, a 2004 graduate of Lakewood St. Edward.
The St. Ignatius spat probably just comes from the old parochial school rivalry, but he’s teammates with two Glenville grads — Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr.
Ginn Jr. has his own personal feud with another teammate — Warren native Mario Manningham.
“I watched him beat my father,” he said referring to a 2003 tilt between his Tarblooders, coached by Ted Sr., and Manningham’s Harding Raiders.
Manningham caught a 99-yard touchdown pass early in the game. In the waning minutes while he was at cornerback, Manningham picked off a pass and took it over 60 yards for the winning score.
“It’s kind of amazing that he’s here now as a receiver and still making those big time plays,” Ginn said.
Manningham caught five passes for a team-leading 56 yards in Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. In the fourth quarter, he hooked up with quarterback Alex Smith on a 22-yard reception. Yet, it’s still taken him time to gel with his new team and a new offensive scheme.
“We’re still trying to get on the same page,” Manningham said. “We’re not fully on the same page like we want to be — me and him [Alex] and the other wide outs. But I feel like we’re getting there.”
Smith has been impressed by Manningham’s speed.
“He’s a guy that’s incredibly quick,” Smith said. “He’s a great route runner who makes tough catches. He can run one on one and can really separate. He made a terrific catch in traffic and somehow managed to get out of bounds.”
This is Manningham’s second trip home in the past month — this one during much better circumstances.
His grandfather, Gerald Wayne Simpson Sr., passed away in late August.
“He was there for me, showing me the ins and outs about life,” Manningham said. “Really, some of it doesn’t have anything to do with football, just growing. Just being a man of your word and being accountable. He taught me what I need to stand out and not be like everybody else.”
Harding football coach Steve Arnold visited the 49ers hotel, the Boardman Holiday Inn, early Wednesday and Manningham has returned to his Warren home “for good home-cooked food” and a lecture with current football players.
“They’re trying to get back on the right pace and it seems like they’re bringing back the Warren G. Harding tradition,” he said. “They’re more talented now than when I was in high school. They need someone to say that anything is possible.
“Just being from this area and knowing how tough it is to get out of this area, I’m happy to be back and say anything positive to any kid to help them.”