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Edwards fate highlights difficulty of CFL to NFL transition


The plight of Chris Edwards has proven the difficulty in making the transition from the CFL to the NFL. The 27-year-old was signed to the San Francisco 49ers' roster during the off-season, but was waived by the franchise in one of their first round of cuts.

It's not an easy path to break into the NFL, and Edwards knows more than most having failed to make the grade first time around. Edwards went undrafted in 2016 and joined the Oakland Raiders for training camp. He played during pre-season, but was cut just before the start of the campaign. Edwards has had the misfortune of receiving his second chance in a year when the NFL has been forced to truncate their season, with the loss of pre-season and the downsizing of rosters.

The 49ers had a plethora of talent in their secondary anyway, including Richard Sherman. Their defence was the foundation of their push towards the Super Bowl last term and will be the key once more. Kyle Shanahan's men are backed at 8/1 in the NFL odds on bet365 to claim the crown in the 2020 campaign, highlighting the talent of their roster. There is no shame in being shown the door by the 49ers, but Edwards' time to make a career in the NFL is at least on hold for another year.

At 6ft 2in and 215lbs, Edwards still has the perfect frame to play strong safety in the NFL. He was a tackling machine for three seasons in the CFL. With the Lions in 2019, he notched 50 tackles, one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles. There is talent there, but the presence of Jaquiski Tartt - the man in possession of the starting spot and who enjoyed his best season in 2019, including a sack of Patrick Mahomes in their Super Bowl defeat, was always going to be an obstacle.

Marcell Harris and Jared Mayden were also in the frame. When given the choice between a player that has failed to make the grade before and a young player with special teams' value - the head coach and the general manager are always likely to favour the latter because they will be cheaper. It's a problem that even veteran players in the NFL have encountered since the CBA was rewritten 10 years ago.

There are few players that have managed to successfully make a strong career for themselves in the NFL after playing for a period in the CFL. Cameron Wake is the one player to have thrived after making the transition. It was clear from his CFL career that he was truly exceptional and simply slipped through the cracks in his first attempt to find his way in the league.

Linebacker Samuel Eguavoen made the leap for the Miami Dolphins having played two seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Miami had a much weaker roster than the 49ers and even now there's no guarantee that Eguavoen will be with Brian Flores' side for their 2020 opener. Edwards always faced an uphill challenge due to the talent of the 49ers' defence. He may yet get another opportunity with other sides looking to pick up players before the start of the season. However, a return to the CFL is likely in the near future. He will not be the last player to experience the disappointment of failing to make the grade.