After a disappointing loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers did not waste much time making changes to their roster. The team released wide receiver Kyle Williams, cornerback Perrish Cox, and activated linebacker Nick Moody. With the departure of Williams and Cox, running back LaMichael James and cornerback Eric Wright should see much more playing time.
Williams’ release should not come as much of a surprise. A sixth-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2010, Williams has not contributed much to the offense, making 12 catches for 113 yards in 2013, and has struggled on special teams as a punt and kick returner. In the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, he fumbled the ball three times. Although the 49ers won that game, those errors by Williams were reminiscent of his two lost fumbles in the NFC championship game against the New York Giants in 2011 that may have cost the 49ers a chance at the Super Bowl that year.
The release of Cox, also a 2010 draft pick by the Denver Broncos, comes shortly after the 49ers activated Wright. Cox came to the 49ers in 2012 after being charged with sexual assault and found not guilty. He seemed to have put his personal troubles behind him and performed solidly as a dime back and on special teams for the 49ers.
The return of rookie Moody to the 49ers’ defense gives the team another option at the linebacker position. Moody, selected by the 49ers in the sixth round of the 2013 draft out of Florida State, performed well in the 49ers preseason. He has been on the short-term injured reserve list since breaking his hand week 1 of the 2013 season.
With these roster moves, focus now shifts to James as punt returner for the 49ers, who averaged 11.7 yards per return against the Panthers, and Wright who has yet to play in a game for the 49ers. The bigger question is how the 49ers expect to improve on an already weak passing game with one less receiver in the lineup.
Sara DeBord is an NFL writer for www.footballandfutbol.com and www.baysportsreport.com.