The Carolina Panthers have agreed to a deal with WR Ted Ginn Jr. to a one-year contract, according to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
Ginn was the kick and punt returner for the 49ers in 2011 and 2012. He finished the 2012 season averaging 10.2 yards per punt return.
In the past two seasons, Williams was the backup to Ginn and most notably had to step in during the 2011 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants. In 2012, he had no fumbles and finished with four returns for 52 yards.
James worked last offseason on returning punts and initially struggled during the preseason. He became the team's leading kickoff returner when he made his debut in Week 14 against the Miami Dolphins. If he becomes comfortable with returning punts, he can compete to be the primary return man for special teams.
Cox is a darkhorse as he spent a brief time with the Denver Broncos as the backup punt returner. He had three returns for 2.3 yards in 2010.
Another possibility is where the 49ers use one of their 14 draft picks on a player with more experience in returning punts to promote competition.
Out of notable free agents, WR/CB/PR Julian Edelman from the New England Patriots is available. Edelman had a 15.5 average last season on 17 returns last season with the Patriots.