The wide open NFC West race is looking a little tighter as Braylon Edwards has inked a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. At the beginning of free agency, nobody in his camp could have imagined he’d have to settle for a one-year deal, but that’s exactly what he got. We examine the aftermath of Edwards’ decision and the players whose values have changed as a result in the latest installment of the “Instant Analysis” series.
Braylon Edwards, WR SF
It’s hard to believe Edwards is just 28 years old, but it seems like light years ago when he posted his magical 2007 season that featured 80 catches, 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Browns. The Jets decided to move on without him after he posted a couple of fairly average campaigns for them.
Edwards finds himself in an interesting spot in San Francisco. He’s much more than a red zone target, as indicated by his career yards per catch average of 15.8. However, throwing the deep ball is not exactly in the wheelhouse of one Alex Smith.
It’s a short term deal for Edwards, but he has a golden opportunity to prove his worthy of a long term deal in what will end up being back-to-back contract seasons for him. He should be considered a WR4 with the upside and situation to put up WR3 numbers this season. Sadly, it’s tough to expect much more from him. Ironically, he would probably benefit more from the insertion of the less experienced Colin Kaepernick.
Edwards is currently ranked as the 46th best fantasy receiver in the Dynasty Essentials Guide and this move won’t move him up the ladder any.
Michael Crabtree, WR SF
Just how bad is that foot injury?
If dynasty owners were denying he was seriously hurt, they have to reconsider that now. Crabtree is supposed to miss only four to six weeks, but bringing in Edwards indicates big concern from the 49ers camp. It’s not enough to start bailing on him long term, but the disappointment continues for Crabtree owners.
It’s not quite time to panic, but the clock is ticking.
Josh Morgan, WR SF
It wasn’t long ago when Morgan was a hotshot rookie burning up the preseason. Since then, he’s become a bitter disappointment. He’s barely on the radar, even in deep dynasty leagues.
Ted Ginn, Jr., WR SF
Remember when he made that special teams touchdown in the National Championship Game a few years back? It’s hard to believe that’s likely going to be the highlight of his football career. Ginn belongs on the waiver wire in virtually every format.
Dominique Ziegler and Ronald Johnson, WRs SF
These two are both projects and worth of keeping an eye on. However, the addition of Edwards may eliminate playing time for either, pending Crabtree’s recovery.
Alex Smith, QB SF
Any time a team adds another offensive weapon, it helps the quarterback. The problem is what we alluded to earlier—Edwards’ strength is Smith’s weakness. He may be able to get deep, but Smith is going to have to improve dramatically to make full use of Edwards. The signing is certainly not a bad thing for Smith, especially if Crabtree flames out.
Vernon Davis, TE SF
Davis has, is, and will be the first passing option in the 49ers' attack. He’s an elite player and could actually benefit from Edwards taking some attention of the defense.
Frank Gore, RB SF
Much like Davis, you have to think Gore will benefit from a legitimate deep threat at wide receiver. Having Edwards could open up some lanes for him. Much like the rest of the offense, his performance this season rests in the hands of Smith and possibly Kaepernick. If the 49ers can’t get decent play from the quarterback, the entire offense is going to suffer and defenses will stack the box against Gore.