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Walker Gives 49ers Options

Posted Nov 16, 2011



Skywalker. Walker SF Touchdown Ranger. And perhaps best of all, Option D, because Walker can do “All of the above.”

These were some of the best Delanie Walker nickname suggestions that poured into the San Francisco 49ers Twitter account on Wednesday.

Walker, a fan favorite now in his sixth season with the 49ers, has always won over the team’s Faithful supporters with his selfless attitude and knack for making exciting plays.

So when Walker led the 49ers with six catches for 69 yards last Sunday in a 27-20 win over the New York Giants, it’s no surprise he’s been receiving appreciation all week via fan comments to his Twitter account.

Walker appreciates the support on a day where he helped the 49ers showcase a diverse passing game and even recovered a well-time onside kick.

“Without the fans, we wouldn’t be doing this,” Walker said at his locker on Wednesday. “We do it for them. We entertain them. And they entertain me on Twitter with the nicknames and stuff. I love to see what they come up with and what they like to call me.”

Walker is equally, if not more popular inside the 49ers locker room.

“He’s the ultimate football player, the ultimate teammate and it’s a pleasure to play with him,” said 49ers special teams ace Blake Costanzo. “I think he could play defense if you asked him to. Delanie can do everything.”

Walker has already set a career mark with three touchdowns this season, and is also on pace to set career highs in catches and yards. So far, he has 19 catches for 198 yards. The tight end who creates so many mismatches against opposing defenses needs 10 catches and 133 yards to surpass his career bests; he has seven games to get it done.

But really it’s Walker’s all-around talents that have kept him on the field.

He’s able to lead block (See: wham plays versus Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh). He’s able to catch big touchdowns (See: game-winner against Suh’s Lions in Detroit).

The former, Walker thinks, is what keeps him on the field.

“When I’m blocking well, that gives me a better opportunity to catch passes,” Walker admitted. “Teams don’t really know what we’re doing. I motion a lot. I’m in different positions every week, so I think that’s giving me opportunities in the passing game and making stuff happen for the offense.

“I’m loving it, playing offense, special teams, doing the dirty work. That’s just what I do.”

Walker gets his job done not just on offense, but has been a steady contributor on special teams, too.

Through nine games, he’s tied for third on the team with six special teams tackles. Besides production, Walker’s effort has made him a respected player inside the locker room.

And all the guys all know it.

“Delanie lives on special teams,” Costanzo added. “He does everything. It’s pretty crazy how much he does on offense and then plays on special teams. It’s amazing to see him ball out the way he does, considering how many snaps he plays and then give his all on special teams play.”

Close friend and fellow tight end Vernon Davis, who is one score ahead of Walker for the team lead with four touchdown catches, appreciates everything Walker brings to the 49ers offense. In essence, an extra speedy tight end just draws more attention from opposing linebackers and safeties who’ve teamed up to double-cover Davis.

According to Davis, his 31-yard touchdown last week against New York was a tribute to Walker’s presence in the 49ers offense.

“When Delanie’s getting after it,” Davis stated, “they start going his way; I tend to get open. You saw it on the touchdown. They left me wide open and I just took advantage of the opportunity.”

The latest opportunity for the 49ers tight ends and company will be against a familiar foe, NFC West rival Arizona, which has been a fierce opponent for the 49ers in recent years

“They play us hard,” Walker said of the 3-6 Cardinals, winners of their last two contests. “Whenever we play each other, we play the same way. They always match our intensity so we can’t take them lightly. We have to come out and attack them right away.”

Good thing the 49ers have some of the league’s best tight ends on their side. Quarterback Alex Smith completed 9-of-11 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown to his tight ends last week against the Giants.

The 49ers are lucky to have team-first players like Walker who don’t care who gets the glory, just as long as the team wins … and the fans show him respect.

So call him: “Swiss Army Knife” or “Delanie ‘Do-it-all’ Walker” or  “Sweet Feet” or “The Hybrid” or anything else.

Just make sure to call him what he is.

“He’s the ultimate team guy,” Costanzo said. “On the field, he’ll sacrifice his body, do anything just for the team. It can’t get any better than what Delanie does.”