Was Battle’s contract extension a wise move?

By Mike Boyko  |   Thursday, December 29, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

San Francisco 49ers
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Recently, the San Francisco 49ers extended the contract of Arnaz Battle. After three years with the team, Battle was given a 4-year deal worth $4.5 million for what he's brought to the table? Why did the 49ers organization give an injury prone player an extended welcome as if he were a valuable commodity?

In three season's Battle has hardly earned a new contract as he hasn't proved to anyone that he can stay healthy. In 2003 he was hampered for at the beginning of the year with a knee injury, and then missed a few games as he was placed on the IR with a toe injury. Then in 2004 he played in 14 games but saw limited action as he was bothered by thigh and hamstring problems. In 2005 he has played a limited role as he has yet again been plagued by knee problems.

Since the 2003 season he has only played in 31 games and has only started seven of them. Also in those three seasons he has just 37 catches for 454 yards and only three touchdowns. In this 2005 season he has just 29 receptions for 311 yards through just 16 weeks.

Earlier in December, 49ers head coach Mike Nolan said," We've been talking to Arnaz's people", "Things look favorable for that situation. He will be part of this as we go forward," Nolan said. "We don't want to jeopardize his career with us." Nolan might be putting too much faith into Battle, who hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough to give him a fair assessment.

Nolan has done well with what he's been given so far, but this isn't the wisest of moves for a passing offense that is dead last in the NFL. Battle's production has increased over the last three years, but it isn't very wise to extend a player's contract that has not been of good health or an option for his coaches. The 49ers are really taking a gambling on Battle's potential for the future. This notion to keep Battle in camp is very brave, and this organization better hopes his luck improves.

From top to bottom the San Francisco 49ers need to be revamped, and a passing game that is averaging just 117 yards per game needs to be at the top of the priority list. Maybe Battle will pan out, but if his injury prone self doesn't stay healthy it will just be another mistake for the 49ers organization. The risk might be too much for the rebuilding team to bear, especially if they want to make progress in the future with their passing game.
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