Three and Out: Smith's playing time; competition heats up
Mario Manningham, who is active for Sunday's game vs. the Panthers, hasn't played in a game since December 23, 2012. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – With four players being activated since the 49ers’ last game, there is more competition than ever to be among the 46 active players for games.
Here’s a look at each player the 49ers declared inactive for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, as well as the roles for some of the players who are in uniform the game:
INACTIVE VS. PANTHERS
--QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson: Claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Oct. 9, Bethel-Thompson has been inactive for each of the four games he’s been with the 49ers. He is the No. 3 QB behind Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy.
--WR Quinton Patton: He sustained a fractured right foot on Sept. 26 against the St. Louis Rams after he was moved into the No. 2 receiver job. His foot is out of a walking boot. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke both said last week that they expect Patton to be available to play again this season.
--WR Kassim Osgood: This is a bit of a surprise because of what he’s brought to the 49ers on special teams. Osgood recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown against Tennessee on Oct. 20. And with Ted Ginn returning kicks for the Panthers, you would think the 49ers would want to bolster their coverage units.
--CB Eric Wright: He made his debut on the 49ers’ 53-man roster this week after spending the first eight games on the reserve/non-football injury list. But his debut in a 49ers' uniform will have to wait at least another week. Wright had a good week of practice, and has a chance to move into a significant role on the defense before the end of the season.
--DT Quinton Dial: The fifth-round draft pick was active for both games since being activated from the reserve/non-football injury list. Dial underwent surgery in January to repair tendon and ligament damage in his toe. In two games, he has two tackles. With the Glenn Dorsey completely recovered from a hamstring strain, the 49ers do not need to suit up another defensive lineman.
--G Joe Looney: The second-year pro has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
--DT Tank Carradine: He made his debut on the 53-man roster. He has not played in a game since sustaining a torn ACL nearly a year ago (Nov. 23), ending his final year at Florida State. An NFL source said there were many shortcuts taken in the initial stages of Carradine’s rehab before draft. After the 49ers selected Carradine in the second round, and re-started his rehabilitation. “He’s still fighting through his injury and fighting through learning the system and playing the way we want to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
ACTIVE AND IN UNFORM
--WR Kyle Williams: He has spent most of the season as the No. 2 wideout and primary return man. After a rough game against Jacksonville in London, Williams’ role is up in the air. Anthony Dixon handled a kickoff return against Jacksonville after Williams fumbled a kickoff and muffed a punt.
--RB LaMichael James: He’s been inactive for the three previous games despite being healthy. Harbaugh said James, a second-round pick in 2012, is too talented to remain on the sideline. James is expected to get a chance to be the 49ers’ primary return man against the Panthers. He has never attempted a punt return in an NFL game.
--CB Perrish Cox: Initially, Cox’s position as the dime back and backup slot cover man is most in jeopardy with the return of veteran Eric Wright to the active roster. But with Wright inactive, Cox will maintain that role for at least another game.
--WR Mario Manningham: The 49ers’ second-leading wideout from last season makes his season debut after tears to the anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee. He figures to see significant action on Sunday.
--WR Jon Baldwin: He was inactive for the Oct. 27 game against Jacksonville due to a illness. Baldwin had a full week of practice, but he has not found a role with the offense. In four games, Baldwin has just three receptions for 28 yards. He is active on Sunday, but he figures to fall deep down the depth chart after the return of Michael Crabtree.
--OLB Aldon Smith: He is back in uniform after missing five games while in treatment for substance abuse. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the “personality of the game” will determine how much Smith plays on Sunday against the Panthers. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier combined to fill in for Smith during his absence.
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WR Tavarres King
WR Marvin McNutt
CB Josh Norman
CB James Dockery
G Chris Scott
TE Brandon Williams
DE Wes Horton