In early August, the 49ers signed Braylon Edwards to an incentive-laden, one-year contract worth $1 million in base salary, a pittance for a big-bodied receiver with Edwards’ resume.
As it turns out, San Francisco got what it paid for.
The unproductive marriage between the 49ers and the former Pro Bowler ended Tuesday, when the injury-riddled Edwards, 28, was released after collecting 15 catches for 181 yards with no touchdowns in nine games.
Edwards, who suffered a knee injury in Week 2 and a shoulder injury in Week 9, announced his release on his website. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed Edwards’ release Tuesday morning on his weekly appearance on KNBR.
“I was released today by the 49ers due to my injury that required more time to rehab and hasn’t allowed me to re-sync with the offense,” Edwards wrote. “I wish the 49ers organization the best of luck during the Playoffs. I will be working hard this off season to strengthen my knee and prepare for the 2012 season.”
Edwards had just two catches in the final four games in which he played, and quarterback Alex Smith had a 1.7 passer rating when targeting Edwards in those contests, completing 2 of 11 passes for 14 yards with an interception. In Saturday’s 19-17 win at Seattle, Edwards had more penalties (two) than catches (one).
Still, the 49ers’ decision to part ways in Week 17 is surprising, given that Michael Crabtree (team-high 64 catches) is their only wide receiver with more than 20 receptions this season.
In addition, Crabtree and seldom-used Brett Swain are their only healthy receivers. Ted Ginn Jr. sat out Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, and Kyle Williams didn’t finish the game after he was sandwiched by two Seattle defenders on a kickoff return.
The 49ers will sign a wide receiver to fill Edwards’ roster spot, and they could also be in the market for a tight end with Delanie Walker’s status in doubt for the postseason because of a jaw injury he suffered against the Seahawks.
So why not keep Edwards, one year removed from a 53-catch, 904-yard season, in hopes he could turn it around in the playoffs?
For starters, it probably didn’t endear Edwards to Harbaugh in late November when the receiver told the media before consulting with his coach that he needed time off because of his injuries. Then, there were signs during the past several weeks that Edwards was disgruntled with his role in the offense.
After he played just 12 snaps and didn’t have a catch in a 21-19 loss at Arizona on Dec. 11, he waved off reporters, telling them to talk to receivers on the team who played.
On Dec. 19, Edward was inactive for non-injury related reasons for a 20-3 win against the Steelers. Harbaugh said Edwards was sidelined based on his performance in practices and games.
On Thursday, Harbaugh, asked if Edwards had a long-term future in San Francisco, offered a terse, two-word response: “We’ll see.”
On Tuesday, we did.