The 49ers today released wide receiver Kyle Williams as expected and also said goodbye to cornerback Perrish Cox. That paves the way for newcomer cornerback Eric Wright, who was inactive on Sunday, to take over Cox's former role in the 49ers' dime defense. That alignment, which is used when opponents have four receivers on the field, likely will be needed Sunday in New Orleans.
"Decisions like these are always difficult, especially at this time of year," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "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."
The 49ers signed Cox early in the 2012 offseason after he was found not guilty in a sexual assault case in Colorado. Cox served as the backup to Carlos Rogers in nickel defense situations, in the 49ers' dime defenses and also on special teams. Wright can play both on the outside and inside in a nickel role, and he presumably now becomes Rogers' backup at nickel as well.
Cornerbacks Wright, Tarrell Brown and Tramaine Brock are scheduled to be free agents in March. Rogers, meanwhile, has a huge salary-cap figure while Chris Culliver is coming back from an ACL surgery.
Cox also was one of the few 49ers with experience returning punts. With Williams also gone, LaMichael James is the only 49er to have done so in a regular-season game, and his experience is limited to the three returns he had on Sunday.
The team also brought linebacker Nick Moody from injured reserve to the active roster. The sixth-round draft pick presumably will resume the role he had on special teams before suffering a broken hand in the season opener against Green Bay.
With today's transactions, the 49ers have an open spot on their 53-man roster. The team could add tight end Derek Carrier from the practice squad if either Vernon Davis (concussion) or Garrett Celek (hamstring) is unable to play Sunday.
-- Matt Barrows