After week two’s devastating loss to the Cowboys at home no one knew how the 49ers would react but few would have predicted a four-game winning streak and a 5-1 record at the bye week. The 49ers not only lost the game to the Cowboys but they also lost newly signed wide receiver Braylon Edwards to a knee injury who was supposed to be the deep threat receiver for the 49ers this season. Edwards is still expected to the deep threat for the 49ers but how effective he will be the next few games is unknown because of his injury. Edwards had knee surgery on September 18 and is expected to return to practice on Tuesday when the 49ers resume their workouts after taking off for the bye week. If Edwards is able to practice each day this week expect him to be in the starting line up on Sunday against the Browns.
“I watched him (Edwards) run and run routes. Like I said, hopeful that he’ll come back tomorrow and good things will happen. Our wounds have almost healed and we’ll know better on Tuesday when we get out there on the field and practice,” Jim Harbaugh said on Monday.
The Browns have a good defense that is cable of giving the 49ers offense fits. The Browns have the fifth ranked defense in the NFL giving up just 291 total yards of offense each game. On defense the Browns are disciplined and very aggressive in the secondary led by Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown. The 49ers will need Edwards against the Browns secondary who are considered an aggressive group because of their movement in the secondary and not being afraid to break on passes to go for the interception. Having Edwards back in the lineup will give the 49ers receiving corps some experience. With Joshua Morgan out for the season with a broken leg, the starting lineup has been Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams who have 41 games of experience combined compared to Edwards’ 92 games of experience.
With Crabtree emerging as a Alex Smith’s go-to receiver, Edwards is coming back at the right time. With Crabtree and Edwards on the outside, and Vernon Davis over the middle, the defense will need to account for all receivers. Last time Edwards was on the field with the offense Alex Smith was playing like his old self, Frank Gore was playing like he was still suffering from his hip injury and the offensive line was just plain offensive. What a difference four games makes. Edwards returns to the 49ers at a time when the team's confidence is running at its highest. Edwards will want to be a part of all of that so expect him to be targeted often against the Browns. His first 100-yard game with the 49ers is not out of the question if he is 100% and if Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman can figure out a way to exploit the aggressive play of the Browns secondary.