49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 23, 2011
Smith, Edwards cramming for their chemistry test

The 49ers signed Braylon Edwards for his big-play ability. The six-year veteran averaged 17.1 yards a catch last year in a ho hum Jets passing attack that averaged 6.5 yards per attempt, tying them at No. 25 in the league in that category. Edwards only has played two games for the 49ers, but he's already shown he can be a handful for defensive backs. Thanks in large part to a one-handed snatch for 32 yards Saturday, he's averaging 19.3 yards a catch in preseason.

braylon2.jpg

More significant than that, Edwards is showing some chemistry with first-string quarterback Alex Smith, who's targeted Edwards five times. The first pass, which came on a slant, was behind the receiver and incomplete. The last four have been on target. (Smith's first attempt to Edwards Saturday was caught by Edwards but knocked away by Raiders safety Tyvon Branch).

Edwards, of course, only joined the team earlier this month and he hasn't been a starter to this point in either practices or games. That honor has been given to Ted Ginn and Josh Morgan who, because of an injury to Michael Crabtree and a likely suspension for Edwards, could be the starters Sept. 11 against Seattle.

Still, Edwards said the lost time doesn't mean that he and Smith couldn't forge good chemistry.

"Alex and I have been at this now for seven years," Edwards said Monday. "Wherever you go, there's ways of getting that chemistry together, be it after practice, before practice, off days. If you take it upon yourself, you can get that chemistry right. And it feels like we're doing that. We're taking some strides after practice. We felt comfortable with each other this past Saturday, and hopefully it's only going to get better."

Indeed, Smith and Edwards have been throwing together after practices. And Edwards said they have watched film together on their off days, going over scenarios and otherwise trying to remove any doubts about what the other is thinking on certain plays.

Edwards said he's optimistic about the union. "I like a lot of things that we're doing," he said. "And I think he and I can make some plays, as well as he and Crabtree, as well as he and Vernon. They all look comfortable in this new system. The thing Alex has to do is forget about the past six years and let it fly this year."

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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