SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers could have used Randy Moss a year ago, when they entered their regular-season finale without proven receivers to complement Michael Crabtree.

Now they have Moss, and they'll need him to help compensate for the loss of Mario Manningham, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's 42-13 loss at Seattle.

Moss has had a positive presence but not many receptions in his return from a one-season hiatus. He has averaged 1.7 catches per game for the 49ers (10-4-1).

A potential Pro Football Hall of Famer seeking his first Super Bowl ring, Moss certainly carries more clout than Brett Swain and Joe Hastings, the two receivers who lined up with Crabtree in the 2011 regular-season finale at St. Louis.

Moss has 26 receptions for 406 yards with three touchdowns that each packed a highlight punch. He scored the 49ers' initial touchdowns in wins at Green Bay and New England, and his other touchdown was a 47-yard thriller Oct. 29 against the Arizona Cardinals.

When the 49ers meet the Cardinals (5-10) on Sunday at Candlestick Park, they'll do so without Manningham, who tore both his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, according to ESPN.

Crabtree remains the most popular target of Colin Kaepernick, but other options exist in tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, assuming Davis has recovered from what he's termed a "mild" concussion.

Davis wasn't a popular target in the three previous games that Manningham missed, totaling only two receptions for 14 yards on five targets. Walker caught his third touchdown pass in the final minutes of Sunday's loss.

The 49ers also could turn more to Ted Ginn Jr. and A.J. Jenkins. Ginn has only two receptions this season, but that's two more than Jenkins, this year's first-round draft pick. Jenkins has played in only two games and hasn't seen a pass come his way.

Ricardo Lockette, a 6-foot-2 receiver, could be an attractive option to promote from the practice squad, where they also have the more-experienced Chad Hall.

Before heading to the playoffs for the second straight season, the 49ers will encounter the Cardinals, who are allowing the third-fewest passing yards (195.7 per game). Arizona has won once in its past 11 games.

The 49ers can clinch the NFC West by winning or tying Sunday, or if the Seahawks (10-5) lose or tie at home against the Rams (7-7-1). To clinch the NFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, the 49ers need to win and the Green Bay Packers must lose to or tie the host Minnesota Vikings. A 49ers tie and Packers loss also would work for the No. 2 seed.

Manningham was the 49ers' second-leading receiver with 42 receptions for 449 yards. His only touchdown catch came in an Oct. 7 rout of the Buffalo Bills, and he missed three games with a shoulder injury that he suffered Oct. 14.

Manningham is destined to become the fifth player put on the injured-reserve list, joining wide receiver Kyle Williams, running back Kendall Hunter, defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs and linebacker Parys Haralson, who was lost in the exhibition season.

Defensive lineman Justin Smith's status from an elbow injury remains unclear.

Last year, the 49ers had a league-low two players go on injured reserve once the regular season began: wide receiver Joshua Morgan and defensive lineman Will Tukuafu.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.