Blocking Not Overlooked

Arnaz Battle kept the chains and clock moving Sunday for the 49ers with four important receptions on third downs.

But his biggest contribution to the 19-13 victory over the Detroit Lions might have come as a blocker for running back Frank Gore.

“Arnaz was very good,” said 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, no easy critic. “All three of those guys (receivers) have been really unselfish about blocking. They don’t shirk their duties and Frank came up to me and said he appreciates the effort those guys give blocking for him. That’s what I expect. I expect them to do the job.”

Battle is in his fourth NFL season but has already started more games at wide receiver this year than his previous three combined. Although he was the starter last season, a bothersome knee injury kept him out of the lineup for half the games.

His knee problems carried over into training camp this summer, but Battle has been healthy since the start of the season. Battle ranks second on the 49ers in both receptions (30) and receiving yards (341). He also has two touchdowns.

“I have the potential to get better and better,” Battle said. “I’ve come a long ways, but I’m still a young receiver.”

Battle split time at Notre Dame as a quarterback and wide receiver. The 49ers selected him in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, and he saw his first two seasons almost exclusively on special teams.

It was that experience that Battle said toughened him to become a better blocker as a wideout.

“Playing special teams my first few years helped out a lot,” he said. “Playing special teams you have to be physical.”

Battle played gunner on the punt team. He was flanked out to the side and typically had to endure two players trying to block him all the way down the field. He also played the “R-5” position on kickoffs.

“That’s basically busting wedges,” Battle said. “It’s right next to the kicker, and you’re going straight down the middle of the field. Just being put in those types of situations made me more of a physical player.”

Battle threw key blocks on the right edge that enabled Gore to get to the outside against the Lions on a couple sizable gains. He also took out two Lions defensive backs 20 yards down the field, helping Gore go untouched for the final 40 yards of his 61-yard scoring run in the first quarter.

“I made a big cut off Arnaz’s block,” Gore said. “That got me to the end zone.”

Battle had his big game against the Lions despite playing most of it with a broken left hand. He said he expects to have surgery Monday to insert a couple screws into his hand. Battle said he does not figure to miss any action.

“He’s a tough guy, an unselfish guy, and he likes to play the game,” Sullivan said. “For a guy who doesn’t have quote ‘great speed,’ he’s a very good runner with the football.

“He had a slow training camp and he’s mended now. I love coaching him. He wants to do things the right way. He’s a great guy to have on your team.”

Source: Press Democrat

~ by O9 Productions on November 19, 2006.

One Response to “Blocking Not Overlooked”

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