San Francisco signed the wideout to a $3.5 million, one-year contract Thursday, and he joined his new team on the practice field for the first time _ albeit a little late and wearing No. 81, the number formerly worn by Terrell Owens.
“Listen here, that number’s temporary,” declared Edwards, who has worn No. 17. “I’m not trying to be known as the next him.”
The Niners announced the acquisition of Edwards shortly after practice began, then he emerged from the locker room less than an hour into the workout to join newly signed quarterback Alex Smith and the others.
“Pretty crazy in the middle of practice to see him run out and jump in there,” Smith said. “It’s just another addition to a strange year. It’s great to see him. He’s a great player. The more he can add to this team the better.”
The 49ers will certainly count on the veteran receiver to make an immediate contribution for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning record or reached the playoffs since 2002.
And they’re counting on him staying out of trouble, too.
“He’s hit some potholes,” Harbaugh said. “You don’t want that to spiral any further down. It’s kind of time to start doing all the little things right, that he knows of and he’s capable of. He’s a good guy.”
A Cleveland judge spared Edwards jail time last month, but extended his Ohio probation by one year for violating terms by driving drunk in New York City last September.
In January 2010, he pleaded no contest there to aggravated disorderly conduct after being accused of punching a friend of NBA star LeBron James.
While on his 18-month probation from the Cleveland case, Edwards was charged with driving while intoxicated in his Land Rover in Manhattan in September 2010. Police said his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
He also has been linked to a bar fight in Michigan on Monday night, though Edwards didn’t want to go into details of what transpired, saying, “At the end of the day that situation will take care of itself.”
Edwards was asked if he expects to face a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell stemming from his run-ins with the law off the field. The two had yet to speak.
“I don’t know what his ruling will be on the situation,” Edwards said. “If there is one, then I respect it and I will gladly take it, and once it’s over with move forward and look to help this team be good this year.”