SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers offense and special teams could get a boost Sunday as wideout Mario Manningham makes his season debut and tailback/returner LaMichael James suits up for just the third game this season.
Aldon Smith also is active after a five-game absence while tending to personal issues. Smith is not slated to start, but that could change, as Dan Skuta is listed as the starter at right outside linebacker.
Manningham, with three weeks of practice under his belt, will be suiting up for the first time since a Dec. 23 knee injury at Seattle. He joins a receiving corps that won't be dressing Quinton Patton (broken foot, fifth-straight game as an inactive) and Kassim Osgood, who has no receptions but has been instrumental as a special-teams gunner since Week 2.
James likely will replace Kyle Williams as the primary return man, at least on punts and possibly on kickoffs. James has been a healthy scratch the past three games and has never returned a punt outside of exhibition-season play.
Eric Wright won't be making his 49ers debut as they're suiting up five other cornerbacks instead: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox and Darryl Morris.
Rookie defensive linemen Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine are inactive, as is second-year guard Joe Looney.
The Panthers inactives wide receivers Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt, cornerbacks Josh Norman and James Dockery, guard Chris Scott, tight end Brandon Williams and defensive end Wes Horton. Nate Chandler will start in place of Scott at right guard.
The Panthers' Sione Fua, a Stanford product, has switched from defensive line to guard and will wear No. 72.