James prepared to return punts and kickoffs on Sunday
LaMichael James is now clearly the 49ers’ top return man. (AP)
Editor’s note: Check out 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco's Tuesday chat transcript right here
Veteran cornerback Eric Wright and LaMichael James were the big winners on Tuesday.
Neither Wright nor James’ names appeared on the 49ers’ transaction wire, but the organization made dramatic roster moves that demonstrated their confidence in both players.
The 49ers waived cornerback Perrish Cox and wide receiver Kyle Williams on Tuesday while announcing the return of linebacker Nick Moody to the 53-man roster.
“Decisions like these are always difficult, especially at this time of year,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “Kyle and Perrish have represented the 49ers organization very well, both on and off the field. We appreciate their dedication and contributions and wish them all the best.”
[RELATED: 49ers release Kyle Williams, Perrish Cox]
James, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, is now clearly the 49ers’ top return man. And Wright is climbing up the depth chart at cornerback behind Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock.
Williams handled the punt-return duties for most of the season before James made his NFL debut in that role on Sunday in a 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Cox was the only other player on the roster with NFL experience handling punts.
Cox also served the past two seasons as the 49ers’ fourth cornerback, backup slot cover man and dime back. Wright, a six-year veteran who was activated last week off the non-football illness list, will now handle that role.
The 49ers have one open roster spot remaining. The club could activate tight end Derek Carrier off the practice squad, depending on whether tight ends Vernon Davis (concussion) and Garrett Celek (hamstring) will be available for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
Moody returns to the active roster after sustaining a broken right hand in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers while playing special teams. Moody was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He began practicing Oct. 23 when the 49ers were in London, and Tuesday was the deadline for the 49ers to move him to the 53-man roster.
In line image of Perrish Cox provided by The Associated Press