With the news today that the San Francisco 49ers released wide receiver Braylon Edwards, one might think a fan of the team should be worried, given the current state of their receivers. Sure, it's Week 17 and, given the fact that the 49ers are playing the St. Louis Rams, they likely will have a first-round bye in the playoffs, but look at the state of their group of receivers. Michael Crabtree and Brett Swain are the only players who have a clean bill of healthy right now. Kyle Williams took a nasty hit against the Seattle Seahawks and Ted Ginn Jr. has been banged up. On top of that, receiving tight end, Delanie Walker, is also expected to miss some time. Don't forget about Josh Morgan on injured reserve.
It's all very likely that these players come back in time for the playoffs and no damage is done, but with this release, the 49ers are making a clear statement about Edwards' inability to, not only catch the football, but play fundamental football, as well. Maybe this is all because Edwards is injured and the 49ers just wanted to move on - at least Edwards seems to think so. But he was so bad on the field this year, how many of his bad plays can be attributed to the injury? Jump for more.
Would you say that 50% of his bad plays can be attributed to the nagging injuries he's been experiencing? What about 60% of them? I'd be inclined to say either of those numbers are fine, but the amount of lazy routes and uninspired defensive efforts (yes, wide receivers must be defensive) far out-numbered the times in which he made a great route and went for a thrilling catch, even if un-caught.
I have no problems with Edwards the person, and I don't think he came to San Francisco looking for a free ride and a paycheck. But something happened this season that I really don't think can be explained by injuries. There were moments, like the Alex Smith interception against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving, that one was bad. Sure, it was a bad throw, but Edwards has every ability to get in the way of that pick or even get a penalty to negate it. He seriously just stood there and watched it happen.
He gave up on the play.
So many routes were ran halfway, so many times the blocking assignments we've seen Ted Ginn of all people make were left un-blocked. I mean, when Ginn is setting the standard for wide receiver blocking (something important to any power running team) outside of Crabtree, then something is wrong. Instead we see Edwards lazily run into the back of somebody after a play was already over. It was just too much, too many errors.
In all honesty, this move should have been made much sooner. Edwards has been a liability on the football field for a good portion of the season, and when he wasn't, he was hogging up the bench as an inactive. I really do wish Edwards the best in his future endeavors, but it's my opinion that he was released for much more than nagging injuries.