Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who hasn't played during the 49ers' four-game win streak, is expected to practice today for the first time since Sept. 19 knee surgery.
"I had a chance to watch him work out last week," coach Jim Harbaugh said on a Monday conference call. "I anticipate seeing him out there (Tuesday) in practice, and (we're) hoping for good things."
If all goes well, the 49ers (5-1) could use Edwards on Sunday when they host his original team, the Cleveland Browns, who drafted Edwards third overall in 2005.
Edwards tore the meniscus in his right knee while making a third-down conversion Sept. 18. It happened on the 49ers' first series in an eventual 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Even though Edwards started the 49ers' first two games, that role is not reserved for him. Harbaugh said he does not subscribe to the policy that a starter cannot lose his job to injury.
Then again, Edwards is returning to a receiving corps that lost starter Johsua Morgan to a season-ending ankle injury Oct. 9. Ted Ginn made his starting debut in the Oct. 16 win at Detroit before the 49ers adjourned for last weekend's bye.
Michael Crabtree has started the past four games at the other wide receiver spot, and he matched his career high with nine receptions (for 77 yards) in the 25-19 win over the Lions.
Edwards played four-plus seasons with the Browns, including a 2007 campaign in which he caught 16 touchdown passes and made the Pro Bowl. He was traded to the New York Jets four games into the 2009 season, and he is now on a one-year deal with the 49ers .
The Browns (3-3) tout one of the league's best pass defenses.
They're allowing 172.0 yards passing per game, second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers (171.9).
Harbaugh called the Browns a "salty, salty defense" that is particularly aggressive in the secondary, noting: "Just a lot of good, aggressive movement with the corners. They'll take chances."
? Fullback Moran Norris also is expected back at practice Tuesday after injuring his lower left fibula against the Cowboys. Rookie Bruce Miller has thrived in Norris' absence, and Harbaugh said both fullbacks will compete for the starting role once Norris is capable.
? Harbaugh returned to Stanford with a few of his assistants to watch Saturday's win over Washington. "We all saw the same thing. Stanford is really good," Harbaugh said. "They're just that much better than everybody they're playing. Proud of those guys. Doing a good job and making it look easy."
? Harbaugh is hopeful that outside linebacker Parys Haralson (hamstring) and right guard Adam Snyder (stinger) will be available to practice after injuries forced them from the win at Detroit.
? Quarterback Alex Smith was expected to throw at the 49ers facility on Monday, having spent part of his bye week throwing there Tuesday and Thursday.
"He's working at it. Keeps staying sharp," Harbaugh said. "I didn't think he wanted to go any longer than two or three days without throwing the ball."