Braylon Edwards Signing Gives San Francisco 49ers a Much-Needed Offensive Weapon

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIIAugust 5, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 02:  Braylon Edwards #17 and Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets celebrate Edwards' third quarter touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at New Meadowlands Stadium on January 2, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With now seven different offensive coordinators over the past seven seasons, consistency has not been a model for the 49ers for quite sometime. 

Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary were both defensive minds at head coach. New coach Jim Harbaugh finally bringing in a strong offensive background.

Harbaugh left Stanford to join the 49ers after developing one of the best quarterback prospects ever, Andrew Luck. 

Coming from college to the pros has never been easy for a coach, but Harbaugh has a lot to be excited about with his new offense.

The 49ers have one of the best dual-threat backs in the game with Frank Gore and have a Pro Bowl tight end in Vernon Davis. The receiving core is also worthy with third-year receiver Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn and now newly acquired Braylon Edwards.

Edwards is very underrated and the 49ers got him at a great price. The only problem with Edwards has been his dropped passes, but that was something he cut down on last season. Edwards is another vertical, big target, and is exactly what the 49ers needed.

The only piece that seems to be missing is at quarterback, but I believe that will all change this season.

Alex Smith has no excuse not to be productive this season, and I firmly believe that he will be. The 49ers have seriously upgraded their offensive line over the past few seasons through the draft with guard Mike Iupati and tackle Anthony Davis.

Gore is the key to the offense, however, and how he goes, the 49ers go. The only problem with Gore over the years has been his inability to stay healthy for an entire season, a feat that he has only accomplished once in his career (2006).

That season also proved to be Gore's best statistical year. The 49ers back rushed for over 1,600 yards to go along with eight touchdowns and also had an impressive 61 catches out of the backfield.  

The 49ers also play in arguably the weakest division in the NFL, the NFC West, where a 7-9 team can make the playoffs (as proved by Seattle last season).

I expect the division to be more competitive this season, but not by much. Arizona and San Francisco will battle it out with the 49ers edging the Cardinals out. I have the 49ers going 9-7 this season with Arizona going 8-8.

In the end, there is no excuse for the 49ers this season, and it's playoffs or bust for this team. If Alex Smith struggles early, look for Jim Harbaugh to go to his backup, rookie Colin Kaepernick.