Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin has lived most of the 2008 season in obscurity, and that's been quite okay for the media shy defensive lineman.
But in recent weeks, Franklin's inside linebackers haven't been able to keep themselves from praising their interior lineman.
Following the Bills game, Takeo Spikes had this to say about Franklin….
"He's big," said Spikes. "He's one of the guys, who never really gets any credit on a national level. Sometimes, not even on a local level. But you're hearing it from me, because this guy is a baller. He's a big-time baller."
Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Staley also enjoys the work that Franklin does at the line of scrimmage.
"Aubrayo has been playing good ball. I love having him in front of me," said Willis. "To me, he's played really well. He's extremely smart. He knows when the guys are running or passing. He knows how to play blocks really well. He knows how to use his hands. His technique is good. And it really helps me out, knowing that he's going to do his job and I trust him. That allows me to play faster."
While Willis believes that Franklin has been consistently good since he got here, the free agent acquisition has thrived in year two with the 49ers, mostly because he's been healthy.
After suffering a knee and calf injury in 2007, Franklin hired a personal trainer back in Atlanta during the off-season. He dropped about 15 pounds and specifically targeted his bum leg.
"I worked hard on trying to get my body lean and on my inside quickness. I think it's helped me out a whole lot this year," said Franklin. "I've been injury-free thanks to God and I guess my training has paid off, because my body feels good."
While some defenses utilize a massive player at the nose, Franklin felt that being lighter would assist him in the 49ers style of a 3-4 defense.
"I just felt like it could've helped me last year. A lot of plays that I didn't make, I felt like a little faster step here a little faster step there, I think that I could've made the play."
Franklin has looked explosive in recent weeks, resulting in some big-time plays for the 49ers nose tackle.
"I play like it's my last down, but the play-calling has been to my advantage these past couple weeks, where I'm moving and it's a change of pace every now and then," explained Franklin. "I'm not just sitting there in a regular two-gap. Sometimes Greg Manusky gives a call where we all move, taking that bulls-eye off our chests."
TV49 put the bulls-eye on Franklin this week in a sit-down interview for this week's Up Close segment. Check it out at 49ers.com on Friday afternoon.
Friday Practice Notes:
Wide receiver Arnaz Battle has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a foot injury.
Running back Frank Gore is questionable on the injury report after missing the week of practice with an ankle injury.
Cornerback Nate Clements, safety Dashon Goldson, center Eric Heitmann, cornerback Marcus Hudson and returner Allen Rossum are all probable. All but Rossum, who was limited on Friday, took a full practice.
If Rossum is up, he'll return punts only. His backup if he can't go will be receiver Dominique Zeigler.