- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2011

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - Braylon Edwards took the field a little late on his first day. No biggie to the San Francisco 49ers.

They have a proven new playmaker among the receivers after signing the wideout to a $3.5 million, one-year contract on Thursday.

Edwards‘ agent, Ben Dogra, confirmed the deal to The Associated Press, less than an hour before San Francisco’s free agents took the field for the first time under new coach Jim Harbaugh _ who, like Edwards, is a former Michigan man.

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 wearing No. 81 to join newly signed quarterback Alex Smith and the others.

Edwards also tweeted that he agreed to a deal with the 49ers, who 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.

Michael Crabtree is sidelined at the start of training camp for the third straight year, nursing a left foot injury sustained during offseason workouts that has him sporting a walking boot. Crabtree has yet to live up to the hype around him after he was drafted 10th overall in 2009 out of Texas Tech. After a 71-day stalemate between Crabtree and the team, he agreed to a six-year deal with $17 million guaranteed.

Crabtree had 55 catches for six touchdowns and 741 yards last season. Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn Jr. are the two other regulars back from 2010, though neither has demonstrated the ability to carry the offense and consistently take pressure off running back Frank Gore.

“It’s official,” Edwards said. “We have moved to the bay. I’m a proud member of the San Francisco 49ers.”

The 28-year-old Edwards made 53 receptions for 904 yards and seven touchdowns last season in his second year with the New York Jets. He spent his first five NFL seasons with Cleveland, making the Pro Bowl in 2007.

“He’s really excited about the offense with Jim Harbaugh,” Dogra said. “He has a legitimate chance to play early and often. He’s looking for a fresh start and felt good about his conversations with Coach Harbaugh and (general manager) Trent Baalke. That’s what made the biggest difference for him. They also have the chance to win this year and are expected to compete for the division. If he does well, hopefully there’s an opportunity to prolong his career there.”

Safety Donte Whitner also said on Twitter that he has joined San Francisco, then sent a tweet to Edwards.

“Bray I signed there today also…let’s get a RING!”

The 26-year-old Whitner, the eighth overall pick out of Ohio State in 2006, ranked fifth in the NFL with 140 tackles last season for Buffalo and also had one forced fumble, an interception and half a sack. He apparently had been close to signing with the Cincinnati Bengals.

With the addition of Edwards, the Niners now have the No. 1 (Smith), No. 3 (Edwards) and No. 9 (cornerback Carlos Rogers) overall picks from the ‘05 draft.

Second-year safety Taylor Mays, a second-round draft pick out of Southern California last year, was on the field for practice amid reports the 49ers are reaching out to teams across the league in an effort to trade him. San Francisco had no comment on the status of Mays.

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