Edwards receives $50K fine from NFL, new start from 49ers

There is one less loose end in Braylon Edwards' string of legal troubles.

The NFL announced Tuesday that it had fined the San Francisco 49ers' new wide receiver $50,000 for a 2010 driving while intoxicated charge while he was on probation from an earlier court case. According to the league, "any other matters will be addressed at the appropriate time."

"I guess the good news is out 49er faithfuls, no suspension this way," Edwards tweeted Tuesday night. "I did get fined by the league but I am in agreement and happy to moveon."

It's a fresh reminder for Edwards, who, since signing with the 49ers, has said he plans to stay out of trouble off the field, something he struggled to do during his two seasons with the New York Jets.

"I'm trying just to be a team guy, fit in, do the things necessary to help this team succeed," Edwards said Tuesday before the fine was announced. "I feel like I've done that behind the scenes, and I will continue doing so."

Edwards regularly lures 49ers quarterback Alex Smith back onto the field for some extra work, a few more throws to make sure they're clicking and on cue. Same goes for study sessions in the film room.

They do it after practice, even on days off.

In the short time since Edwards joined the 49ers, he has shown a commitment to his new team and a much-needed second chance out West with a fellow Michigan man calling the shots: Jim Harbaugh. Edwards hopes to develop the best possible chemistry with Smith so he can return to the dynamic play-making receiver he has been in the past.

Harbaugh made it clear when Edwards arrived that it was time for him to finally grow up and take responsibility for his behavior and his play.

The well-mannered Edwards goes about his business without bringing any added attention to himself, something his teammates appreciate.

"You can tell he loves what he does and that he's serious about the game," running back Frank Gore said. "I like any guy who approaches the game like he loves it, and that's what he does. I'm happy he's part of the Niners."

Polite and polished, Edwards hardly seems like someone with several legal run-ins.

A Cleveland judge spared Edwards jail time in July but extended his Ohio probation by one year for violating terms by driving drunk in New York last September.

In January 2010, Edwards pleaded no contest in Cleveland 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.

Edwards also was linked to a bar fight in Michigan last month, but he said he's working each day to do right.

"More so just enjoying for right now, not looking too much into the future," Edwards said. "I'm just enjoying it day to day, week to week. I think that's all you can do. For right now it feels good to have a fresh start."

Edwards recently switched back to his old No. 17 jersey after wearing Terrell Owens' former No. 81 during training camp.

While Edwards might not start Sunday's season opener against the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks, he should take on a big role as he begins his seventh NFL season.

So far, there have been no signs of the player who found trouble during a tumultuous two-year tenure with the Jets. Harbaugh hopes it stays that way for someone he has watched grow up, thanks to their Ann Arbor connection.

Edwards, 28, received a one-year, $3.5 million contract last month, giving San Francisco the strong, athletic wideout it sought to fit into Harbaugh's West Coast offense.

The 49ers love Edwards' size.

Edwards is 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds. He demonstrated his athleticism with a pretty one-handed catch along the sideline during a 17-3 preseason victory over the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 20.

"He brings a lot to us," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's a big-time playmaker. He has that ability to really do that, especially in one-on-one battles."

Edwards' new teammates and coaches don't seem too concerned about any past problems -- as long as he continues to exhibit the same focus and work ethic.

Edwards could emerge as a big-play threat and carry the load early, considering Michael Crabtree remains behind after missing training camp with a broken left foot that required surgery.

Crabtree, sidelined for the third consecutive preseason after sustaining the broken foot during a Smith-led June workout, said he hadn't been told if he would play Sunday.

Is he ready?

"Yeah, I should be," he said.

Smith certainly has appreciated Edwards' initiative.

"Crucial, trying to make up for lost time," Smith said. "Really trying to do something every day, trying to take a step every day. It might not be something huge, but just little things every day, staying on top of it, whether it's in the film room or out on the field or just communicating. Those are things I think eventually add up."

This isn't the first time Edwards has started over. He was traded to the Jets from the Browns during the 2009 season and shined until the DWI charge.

Edwards hopes to put all that in the past for good.

"Braylon has been great. Braylon brings a lot to the team, brings a lot to the group," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "I really enjoy his presence. He's a competitive guy that just wants to win. The more of those guys we can have, the better. He could be a difference-maker. As he keeps improving and working into the offense, it's just like anybody else, his role will expand."

Notes: Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio expected CB Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) and S Reggie Smith -- recovering from recent surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee -- to return to practice. ... The team signed LB Tavares Gooden to a one-year deal to be a backup to All-Pro LB Patrick Willis and provide a regular presence on special teams. "We felt he would be an upgrade in special teams for us," Fangio said. To make roster room for Gooden, the 49ers released LB Antwan Applewhite. Fangio was Gooden's position coach in Baltimore from 2008 to 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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