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Roster Bonus: Edwards Joins 49ers

Posted Aug 4, 2011

Moments after signing his one-year contract, new 49ers wide receiver Braylon Edwards was in a rush to join his teammates.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pound veteran could have watched practice from the sidelines on Thursday. But he figured, why wait?

So with players already on the field going through drills in the early stages of practice, Edwards laced up his cleats as fast as possible, got the necessary equipment from the 49ers locker room and made his way out to practice.

“I'm trying to start now,” said the big-play wideout who caught 53 passes for 904 yards with seven touchdowns and averaged 17.1 yards per catch last season for the New York Jets. “Why sit around and be in the locker room or sit and watch?

“I felt good today and it's good to learn. It's one thing to read a playbook and go through some plays on film, but it's another thing to actually get a chance to watch it live or actually go through some reps, which I actually had a chance to do today.”

True to his pre-practice mentality, Edwards jumped in to the action wearing a No. 81 jersey and even caught a few passes during team periods on a windy day in Santa Clara. The uniform number isn’t permanent, but Edwards’ passion to get better remains intact.

Though he admittedly was not too familiar with the 49ers roster, Edwards left the practice fields impressed by his new teammates and eager to build camaraderie.

“I saw a lot of talent,” Edwards said. “There's a lot of talent on this team and there's a chance for something special happening this year.”

Edwards aims on being a big part of the team’s rebuilding plans. He also gives the 49ers an even bigger target in the passing game.

“We're looking for that big statured receiver,” said coach Jim Harbaugh, a fellow University of Michigan alum. “I think he's hungry and he wanted to be here and that was exciting for us.”

Edwards’ interest in the 49ers began to take shape at the start of the week. On Monday, the veteran wideout began talks with the 49ers. On Wednesday, he visited team headquarters and by the middle of the following day, “here I am at the podium,” said Edwards to a gathering of local reporters and cameramen.

The wide receiver, who has caught 326 passes for 5,142 yards and 39 touchdowns in his six NFL seasons, looks at his one-year contract as an opportunity to be a part of something new and fresh. His connection with coach Harbaugh also made it an easier decision.

“It just seemed like a good change of scenery,” Edwards said. “I've known coach Harbaugh for pretty much my whole life, he and my father played together and I thought that was another plus.

“Then I thought it would be a great change, a rebuilding team that has a lot of talent and has of lot of ability, but just hasn't crossed over yet. I think I can be a part of that and I would love to be a part of helping this team out.”

Notes and Quotes

Edwards’ presence at practice overshadowed some of the other important debuts on the field. Free agents made their first appearances of training camp, with quarterback Alex Smith being the most notable.

“It was great, been too long,” Smith said. “I missed it -- getting out there and bodies flying around and getting in the mix and shaking it up.”

Although Smith was intercepted on his first pass of the opening seven-on-seven period by cornerback Tarell Brown, he responded nicely with several touchdown passes to his training camp roommate, tight end Vernon Davis. Smith was pleased with the connections he was able to make on Thursday.

“Obviously, we got a long road ahead of us,” he said, “but I felt like we took a step and today and now we'll look at film and try to take another tomorrow.”

Smith was one of many new 49ers including cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Madieu Williams making their first practice appearances of camp. The added depth made a difference instantly. Coach Harbaugh could tell the pace had picked up with all the new bodies out in uniform.

“It was a different feel,” Harbaugh said. “We had some reinforcements out there tonight. It had a livelier feel -- a fun practice -- a lot of energy, a lot of juice. It seemed to just fly by.”

Linebacker Scott McKillop came up with his third interception of training camp, while safety Curtis Taylor and cornerback Tramaine Brock recorded their first takeaways of camp.

Photo of the Day

Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is always communicating with his players as evidence by this interaction with defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois.

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