SANTA CLARA -- Kyle Williams won't be playing for the 49ers on Sunday, but the team remains hopeful that tight end Vernon Davis and safety Eric Reid will be cleared to face the New Orleans Saints.

Williams, the punt returner best known for his miscues in the 2012 NFC Championship game, was cut Tuesday after two seasons of ineffectiveness and injury.

The 49ers also waived cornerback Perrish Cox. Those moves created two roster spots, and while rookie linebacker Nick Moody filled one in his return from a fractured hand, the 49ers haven't announced who'll fill the other. They could be waiting to see how Davis and Reid recover this week.

San Francisco 49ers’ Vernon Davis (85) makes a catch for a 61-yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Candlestick Park
San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis (85) makes a catch for a 61-yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Davis and Reid were back in the locker room for the first time since suffering concussions in Sunday's loss to Carolina. They looked and said they're feeling fine and both plan to follow normal, post-concussion protocol this week before they can be cleared for Sunday's game at New Orleans.

"I'm doing fine, feeling great and just taking it one day at a time," Davis said Tuesday. "I have to wait for doctors to let me know what I can do next."

Davis described this concussion as "mild" as compared to one that knocked him out of a game last Dec. 23 in Seattle. He and Reid were in the locker room together as the 49ers finished out their 10-9 loss Sunday to the Carolina Panthers.

"I didn't really have too many symptoms," Davis said. "My memory was good. My balance was OK."

Davis left the game after landing on his head and shoulder, as safety Mike Mitchell helped break up a Colin Kaepernick to Davis pass near the Panthers' 5-yard line.

Davis' goal Tuesday was to "break a sweat," and he did that by riding an exercise bike and lifting weights. Once they pass neurological tests, Davis and Reid will need to clear a light-contact session.

Considering he's had multiple concussions in an 11-month span, Davis admitted it's "tough" to weigh health concerns while concentrating on a game: "Concussions, that's one of the biggest (injuries) right there. Anytime you're about to make contact with someone, you're thinking about your head."

Reid, in a brief interview, simply said he's "doing good" and will follow the same steps he took after a Sept. 15 concussion in Seattle.

  • LaMichael James and Eric Wright are eagerly poised to factor into the 49ers' playoff push, a byproduct of Tuesday's departures by Williams and Cox.

    After a solid debut Sunday as a punt returner, James officially seizes a role Williams struggled in, dating back to his infamous gaffes in the NFC Championship game loss to the New York Giants on Jan. 22, 2012.

    "I learned a lot from Kyle," James said. "He's a good player and did a lot of good things here, and it shouldn't be dictated by one bad game. I'm going to try to pick up the slack."

    Williams' roster fate looked doomed when he got stripped of his return-specialist duties after a poor showing Oct. 27 in London. With Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham sidelined, Williams couldn't fill the 49ers' receiving void (12 receptions, 113 yards, no touchdowns) for the league's last-ranked pass offense (173.9 yards per game).

    Meanwhile, Wright moves into the No. 4 cornerback role and should have a busy debut Sunday against the high-scoring Saints, whom he's faced four times since 2010.

    San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid (35) intercepts the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco,
    San Francisco 49ers' Eric Reid (35) intercepts the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

    "First and foremost, they have good players, headed by a good quarterback who's playing at an extremely high level," Wright said. "They do a lot to confuse defenses and catch you off guard. ... I'm honing in on learning this defense as a whole."

  • General manager Trent Baalke said in a statement about Williams and Cox: "Decisions like these are always difficult, especially at this time of year. 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."

  • Although the 49ers have an open roster spot, it's unlikely wideout Michael Crabtree will come off the physically-unable-to-perform list just yet. He's practiced only a week on his surgically repaired Achilles, and the 49ers have two more weeks before they must activate him.

  • Tight end Garrett Celek said he's day to day after straining his left hamstring while blocking on an opening punt return. "I have high expectations," Celek said in terms of his hopeful availability Sunday, though he noted that doctors don't know the extent of his strain other than it's not a torn hamstring.

  • Linebacker Dan Skuta wore an orthopedic boot on his left foot after playing through an injury most of Sunday's game.

    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.

    Sunday's game

    49ers (6-3) at New Orleans (7-2), 1:25 p.m. FOX