Edwards: 'I actually marked this game down'

Cleveland receiver Braylon Edwards, who was one of the final candidates the 49ers considered selecting with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, talks Browns and 49ers and covers a spectrum of topics, including getting passed over by the 49ers, what could have been different if he had been selected, the dynamics of the receiver position and much more.

Q: How are the guys approaching this game knowing the playoffs are out of your control?
Edwards:
We handle it like every game this season. We come back the next week very focused at practice. The attitude in the locker room is very good. We have veterans in Willie McGinest, Hank Fraley, and Jamal Lewis that won't allow us to fall for that trap. We are playing for pride and to be the best we can be. So we are going to come out Sunday and play hard.

Q: Do you feel you want to do all you can this game and then see where it goes from there?
Edwards:
Pretty much. We aren't worrying about what happens with Tennessee and the Colts. We had our destiny in our hands. We blew it and lost the game. We're going to come out full speed against San Francisco, try to get this win and if they (Tennessee) win, congratulations to them. They had a good year and deserve to get in (the playoffs). If they lose, then we get in, so all we are worrying about is us coming out 100 percent against San Francisco and trying to not think about that situation.

Q: Does this game have any added significance to you because the 49ers had a chance to get you?
Edwards:
I actually marked this game down when I was a rookie. I paid attention to the first time I would play Miami and the 49ers. I was going to try to do as much as I could and more to show them that they messed up. But as I've grown older, this game in terms of individual performances, means nothing to me. I landed in the best place for me, I believe. Everything happens for a reason. I've been able to grow, develop, and mature as a player here in Cleveland. I've had some success here and am having fun. So this game is just going to be about the 49ers and nothing more than that.

Q: Are you surprised the 49ers bypassed you?
Edwards:
No I'm not. If you look at the situation, here they are with the first pick of the new regime with Head Coach Mike Nolan. This is the first pick of their regime. You can't really pick a wide receiver for your first pick of a new regime if you don't have a stable quarterback. So I could understand why they chose to go with a quarterback with a guy like Alex Smith.

Q: How is the outlook for the next few years regardless if you make the playoffs or not?
Edwards:
If you look at what we've been able to do over the course of these 17 weeks, we've been able to play better as a unit. Our cohesiveness has gotten a lot better. If you look at the young guys, guys are stepping up out of nowhere, like Brandon McDonald, a fifth round pick at cornerback. We got a lot of young guys step up and make plays. In terms of the next few years coming up, we are excited about the things we can do.

Q: What were the first few years there like not having a quarterback?
Edwards:
They were hard. I was trying to do all I can do, but it hurts not having a quarterback, a guy that can get me the ball on a consistent basis.

Q: Do you ever think about that number one pick and how things could be different if you could go back in time?
Edwards:
You never know with guys. There are always different situations. You can get a guy like Shawne Merriman, who was drafted 4th, and is playing phenomenal since his rookie year. He's been doing it on a consistent basis at a high level. There are a lot of guys who have had success in our draft class. DeMarcus Ware and guys like that, so I'm sure the draft class would have been drafted a little more differently, so no.

Q: What is it about the wide receiver position that lends itself to those guys to be so colorful or controversial?
Edwards:
The wide receiver position is the only position where you are by yourself. You look at the line, they are all there together. Their five guys line up together and work together. The tight end is right there with them on the line, so he is able to work and feed off of them. The quarterback takes the ball from the linemen. He is talking to the linemen during and before the plays. The running back is a guy who carries the ball up the middle. He is working in tandem with the fullback. He's able to put the fullback where he wants him to go. All these guys work together. The receiver and cornerback are the only positions where you are by yourself. A lot of the time people don't see what goes on inside a pile or close to the box because there is a lot of traffic there. People see everything a wide receiver does. When the quarterback throws the ball, he has the chance to make a play or not make a play. So we have to be extremely confident in what we do. We have to demand the ball because I am confident that I can make a play for the team. So a lot of times you have to thread that line between confidence and arrogance. If you're an elite receiver you have to want the ball. If you don't the ball, why are you playing the position? And if you want the ball, guys are saying give me the ball, that's not the case. That's just guys being confident. You have to have a certain swagger about yourself. If you look at guys like Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith, they have that swagger because they have done it on a consistent basis and they make those plays and have to have that to make those plays. So we are always going to be the controversial players on the field. We are always going to be the most misunderstood, but at the end of the day we provide those plays that people want to see that gives them a reason to watch ESPN's Top 10 Countdown.

Q: Do you have that swagger?
Edwards:
I have the same confidence, but haven't done it at a consistent level as those guys yet. Randy Moss, his name speaks for itself. Steve Smith has been one of the top receivers for three or four years, so those guys have done it on a consistent basis. I don't have a right to put myself with those guys yet. This is my first big year and I have to keep on doing it. But I believe in my ability to be amongst those guys.

Q: What has Derek Anderson meant to you with the year he is having as far as getting that offense going?
Edwards:
He's making plays. He's allowed him self to be free, make mistakes, which will ultimately make him better in the long run. We have a different pep in our step and a different approach to the game starting Wednesdays in practice. We practice a lot harder this year and a lot more focused and it's carrying over to game day for the most part. He's done some good things for us and allowed us to be in the situation that we are in.


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