49ers 2020 ‘Who Is?’ series: Former CFL standout Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards #24 of the BC Lions (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)
Chris Edwards #24 of the BC Lions (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have had some luck with CFL players before, but Chris Edwards might have a ways to go before making a name for himself.

Safety Chris Edwards probably isn’t the top name you think of when considering San Francisco 49ers players who once played north of the border in the CFL.

If you were recalling former quarterback Jeff Garcia, congratulations. But Garcia isn’t the focal point of the latest Niner Noise “Who Is?” series. Sorry to disappoint you there.

Instead, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive back out of Idaho joined the Niners on a reserve/futures contract last January after appearing in 18 regular-season games with the British Columbia Lions, who released him so he could try his lot at the NFL level.

Between 2017 and 2019, including the time before the Lions with the Edmonton Eskimos, Edwards played in 53 games and had 112 tackles, four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, four forced fumbles and a sack.

Excellent production for a player who initially joined the NFL as an undrafted free-agent addition with the Oakland Raiders in 2016.

But can that production carry over from the CFL?

Why Chris Edwards improves with 49ers in 2020

Edwards wasn’t highly touted out of college despite putting up three interceptions and 57 tackles during his two seasons at Idaho. Some players effectively use time spent in the CFL as a sort of “minor leagues” for the NFL, and Edwards certainly wouldn’t be the first to potentially thrive making his way back to the American pro ranks.

Case in point, former Alliance of American Football offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill made this transition last year, and now Brunskill is poised to be a starter in 2020.

This isn’t to say Edwards is on the same trajectory. But it’s notable how his numbers saw a spike in regular action up north, and he could end up being a solid contributor in a reserve role.

Of note, Edwards ran a 4.54 40-yard time during his 2016 pro day, which isn’t bad at all for a safety of his size.

Why Chris Edwards regresses with 49ers in 2020

There isn’t a ton of tape on Edwards out there, although the fact the Niners only signed Edwards to a reserves/futures contract essentially means the investment is low.

Edwards has more than a handful of players ahead of him on the depth chart, which will cut into his time in training camp and during the preseason. Getting those extra reps, even within a 49ers secondary boasting a handful of question marks, will be tough. He’ll likely be relegated to third-string duties at best, which isn’t an ideal position to be in.

Simply put, he’s not likely to get a lot of looks.

Chances of making the 49ers’ 53-man roster

Edwards is in one of those long-shot categories, and a number of factors will have to go his way between now and roster cuts.

For starters, Edwards will have to significantly outperform some of the other more-established depth players at safety this offseason, namely third-year pro Marcell Harris and the rookie, Jared Mayden, among others. That won’t be easy with limited looks.

On top of that, Edwards will have to showcase some serious value on special teams, also banking on one of those aforementioned players suffering some serious camp meltdowns, given the Niners’ financial investments in them.

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In all likelihood, Edwards probably sees some fourth-quarter time in three of the 49ers’ preseason bouts, perhaps getting in for the second half in Week 4 of the preseason before being let go.