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With Manningham out, 49ers need others to step up

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With Manningham out, 49ers need others to step up

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) 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 San Francisco 49ers right now.

Manningham is out of 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. Davis took a huge hit from Seattle's Kam Chancellor and must be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can return.

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.

Crabtree has 77 receptions for 933 yards and seven touchdowns. Manningham's over-the-shoulder catch between two defenders on the sideline in the Super Bowl propelled the New York Giants' winning TD drive against the Patriots last February. He ranks second with 42 catches for 449 yards and a touchdown after missing some time previously with a shoulder injury.

After those two, San Francisco has received limited production from its other wide receivers.

Moss, two months shy of his 36th birthday, has 26 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr., has two catches for 1 yard. And Jenkins, drafted 30th overall out of Illinois, has been active for three games and has not been targeted.

About the only positive for San Francisco is that second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick often worked with the backups and practice squad players before being promoted over Alex Smith six weeks ago.

``I think that's why we're not too worried about it,'' said Kaepernick, who is 4-2 since taking over for Smith. ``I've had a lot of practice with those other guys.''

Just not when it counts.

Jenkins couldn't crack the lineup at the outset with Crabtree, Manningham, Williams and Moss ahead of him on the depth chart - not to mention Davis, Delanie Walker and the other tight ends in Harbaugh's complicated version of the West Coast offense. Frank Gore also has 25 catches for 213 yards out of the backfield.

At the most important time of the season, now it's Jenkins and other wide receivers with little experience suddenly being thrust into a bigger role.

The 49ers can still secure a No. 2 playoff seed - and the first-round bye that comes with it - with a win against the Cardinals coupled with a Green Bay loss at Minnesota. If they lose and Seattle (10-5) wins at home against St. Louis, the Seahawks will steal the NFC West and send San Francisco on the road for the first round.

Jenkins admits this year has been one of the most frustrating of his life. He has spent most of the season watching and asking questions of the veterans, and he's eager for the opportunity to show his worth when it matters most.

``Going through my whole career, I never really had to sit out,'' Jenkins said. ``This is my first time doing it. It's different. You never really saw the game from the sideline as much as I did. But now it's my opportunity to play, so I have to be ready for it.''

The most important role of the other receivers in line to help replace Manningham has, until this point, been to simulate the opposition on the scout team.

Lockette is playing the part of Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald this week, a role he also did before San Francisco won 24-3 at Arizona in October. Lockette had two catches for 105 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown, with the Seahawks last season and is likely to be active ahead of Hall on Sunday because of his speed and athleticism.

Lockette said he felt helpless watching the 49ers get whipped in Seattle and Manningham go down with a season-ending injury. He has not been told if he'll play Sunday.

``I wanted to play so bad,'' Lockette said. ``Sitting on the sideline, you feel like you could have done something or you could have helped out right here or there. Hopefully I'll get my chance in the near future.''

NOTES: DL 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. ... The 49ers signed DT Lamar Divens and S Curtis Taylor to the practice squad.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

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