Battle Savoring Great Start

His knee problems seemingly behind him, the 49ers’ Arnaz Battle is on pace for the most productive season by the team’s No. 2 wide receiver in four years.

Battle has 20 catches in six games to rank third on the team behind running back Frank Gore (24) and wide receiver Antonio Bryant (21).

If he maintains his average of 3.3 receptions per game, Battle would finish with about 53 receptions. That would be the most by a No. 2 wide receiver since Tai Streets had 72 receptions in 2002. It would also top Battle’s career-best of 32 last season, when he missed six games because of persistent swelling in his right knee.

Battle’s improved health and the addition of Bryant as the team’s go-to receiver are two of the most significant factors in Battle’s heightened productivity.

“Antonio attracts a lot of attention and that’s helped Arnaz,” coach Mike Nolan said Thursday. “When you have a go-to receiver, it does allow the other one to catch some balls. Arnaz has done an outstanding job, but you have to be able to respond if you’re the other guy.”

Battle, who has caught two of Alex Smith’s eight touchdown passes, was on a restricted regimen during training camp because of an irritation in his knee that had prompted swelling. But a series of injections seems to have alleviated the problem and Battle hasn’t missed a practice since the start of the season.

“Really, I’ve put it behind me,” Battle said this week. “I feel good. I’m not doing any kind of treatments. I’m done with everything. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on being a better receiver.”

[Mercury News]

~ by O9 Productions on October 20, 2006.

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