The 49ers dodged a bullet when they received news that their new big-play acquisition will not be penalized by the league by means of a suspension. Instead, the socially troublesome Braylon Edwards will be forced to pay a $50,000 fine for violating the leagues substance abuse policy.
This is great news for the franchise who is really counting on Edwards to play an intricate part to their new offense by providing a go-to receiver the 49ers have been without for some time now. The news couldn't have come at a better time with the first game of the regular season approaching Sunday versus the rival Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers need a fast start considering their schedule and losing Edwards for 2-4 games, as I thought was possible, could have jeopardized that. Edwards has a chance to embarrass the weak Seattle secondary who's best player is a safety entering his
first second year in Earl Thomas.
I am also excited to see Jim Harbaugh continue his competitive disdain for former USC and now Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. The two faced each other regularly as conference rivals in the NCAA's PAC-10, where Harbaugh last ran up the score on USC 55-21 at the Coliseum.
(Harbaugh and Carroll exchange post-game words after Stanford ran up the score)
I can't wait to see how the rivalry continues in the NFC West. Hopefully Harbaugh has the opportunity to run up the score again on Caroll's ladyhawks when they face off against what appears to be a revitalized 49er unit. And hopefully, Braylon Edwards is a big part of that. The Seahawks won the division last year and made the playoffs, and some would say undeservedly.
A win this weekend for the 49ers would mean so much more than it would for Seattle. The Seahawks have had less change and dealt with less adversity than San Francisco, who is a team in transition with a new head coach and a made-over offense and defense.
One player's performance I never usually worry about is Frank Gore, especially against Seattle, who couldn't tackle Gore if his shoelaces were tied together. The 49ers receivers have been on my mind and they could perform quite well as a unit in Harbaugh's regular season debut as head coach. Come Sunday, the entire playbook is open for business.
We could also see the return of Michael Crabtree to full participation in the game. If he does not start opposite Edwards, I would expect combinations of him, Ted Ginn Jr. and Josh Morgan there. The Seattle secondary can be chewed up; even Alex Smith has had some great games against them.
The 49ers receivers will be out there, trying all sorts of new formations created and called by Harbaugh and Roman. I would expect bunch sets to confuse defenses and pick plays to get the receivers the ball quickly. The 49ers should also attempt to stretch the field with Edwards and Ginn until they hit pay-dirt on a big play. Gore could have a spectacular day for fantasy owners but I am more intrigued by the development of the receiving core.
The receivers looked good in preseason as Smith was connecting with them more than he was with his tight ends or running backs, which is a first. But beginning Sunday is when it starts to count. Smith being able to successfully throw to his receivers is crucial to the offensive production. From here on out, it matters, so I await Sunday's contest with optimism regarding the passing game.
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