SANTA CLARA Tight end Vernon Davis, who famously knocked Michael Crabtree down a few pegs last season, is trying to lift another wide receiver this week.
Davis on Tuesday dedicated a tweet to Braylon Edwards, who is perhaps the 49ers' most physically gifted wide receiver but one who recently has found himself in coach Jim Harbaugh's doghouse.
Wrote Davis: "Thankful to have @OfficialBraylon on my team. He's a true professional and football is very important to him."
Asked about the message Wednesday, Davis said he's noticed Edwards' recent frustration and wanted to show support.
"Just the look on his face is he wants to be out there bad," Davis said. "But I don't know the reason he's not. That's up to the coaches and him and Ferg (head trainer Jeff Ferguson) and the trainers."
Edwards voluntarily sat out the team's Dec. 4 game against St. Louis to rehabilitate nagging knee and shoulder issues, then was held out of Monday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Edwards missed four games early in the season after suffering a meniscus tear in his knee, and he has only 14 catches and no touchdowns this season.
Edwards was on the injury report last week because of a knee ailment and was listed as questionable for Monday's game. He practiced on a limited basis throughout last week and also was limited on Wednesday's participation report.
Harbaugh, however, made it sound as if Edwards was held out of the Steelers game not because of the knee problem but because his effort was lacking. Asked why other receivers were active against Pittsburgh and Edwards was not, Harbaugh said it was "just based on the practices and the games."
After sitting out the St. Louis Rams game, Edwards returned the following week against the Arizona Cardinals but was ineffective. He played only a handful of snaps, and the timing between him and quarterback Alex Smith obviously was off on the two incomplete passes thrown in Edwards' direction.
After the game, Edwards did not appear happy about his playing time. Approached by reporters, he directed them to the team's other receivers.
"Talk to them," he said. "They played. I didn't."
Davis, meanwhile, has evolved from a player who got into near-weekly practice-field fights early in his career to someone who sees himself as a team leader and a sheriff in the 49ers' locker room.
Last year he started a loud and long practice-field spat with Crabtree over the receiver's lack of involvement during the preseason, and the two had to be taken off the field and into the locker room by then-coach Mike Singletary.
Davis and Crabtree have since become close, and Crabtree has been among the most hard-working and dedicated 49ers this season.
Asked what his intentions were with the tweet to Edwards, Davis said, "Being a leader, being accountable and being there for my teammates.
"Just saying kind words like that keeps a guy like that level-headed and keeps him hungry and keeps him ready to go at any time," Davis continued. "And I just felt that upon my spirit to lay that out there. And he is he's a guy that I'm grateful to have on the team. He's a true playmaker, and if given the opportunity, I'm sure he'll take advantage of it."
Edwards was not in the locker room Wednesday. But he responded to Davis on Twitter: "feelings very mutual brother since day 1."
The 49ers may need Edwards on Saturday against Seattle. Fellow wide receiver Ted Ginn sprained his ankle against Pittsburgh and did not practice Wednesday.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, however, did not commit to giving Edwards a big role in Seattle. "That's day to day," Roman said. "It's day to day. We'll just take it day to day and go from there."