49ers Picked Battle Wisely

When the 49ers offered Arnaz Battle a contract extension instead of Brandon Lloyd last season, some wondered if the team was holding onto the right receiver.

Lloyd, after all, led San Francisco last season with 733 receiving yards and five touchdowns before being traded to the Washington Redskins. Battle had 363 yards and three touchdowns in an injury-interrupted season.

But in practice and on special teams Battle showed the new coaching staff something Lloyd didn’t — toughness, a quality that has paid dividends for the 49ers in recent weeks.

Playing Sunday with what turned out to be a broken bone in his left hand, Battle delivered the block that sprung tailback Frank Gore on a 61-yard run against Detroit, the team’s only touchdown in the last two weeks.

“I made a cut off of Arnaz’s block, and that’s what got me to the end zone,” Gore said Thursday.

Battle said blocking is something he picked up after spending his first two seasons at the R5 position on special teams.

“It’s basically busting wedges,” Battle said. “You’re right next to the kicker. You’re going right down the middle.”

Battle also had his most prolific day as a receiver against the Lions, catching six passes for 55 yards, four of them for first downs. While Antonio Bryant and Bryan Gilmore are the 49ers’ deep threats, Battle has emerged as the team’s blue-collar wideout, earning his money going across the middle and on underneath routes.

“He is very tough,” coach Mike Nolan said. “He’s physically tough, he’s mentally tough, and that’s important to play the game. If you’re soft physically and mentally, it’s not a game you want to play much.”

As for his ailing left hand, Battle isn’t even on the injury report. He’ll protect it with a padded glove this week and will have two small screws inserted into the bone Monday.

[49ers picked Battle wisely] – Sacramento Bee

~ by O9 Productions on November 17, 2006.

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