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Article Title: What It Takes
Article Date: August 1st 2003
By Bryan Hersh
“Injuries are part of football, we have had a whole lot of minor injuries,” said the 49ers Pro Bowl center, Jeremy Newberry; and if anyone should know it is Newberry. The 49ers drafted Newberry in the second round of the NFL draft in 1998. The former Cal lineman evidently made a huge impression on the 49ers organization as he was the first 49ers offensive lineman to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft since Harris Barton in 1987. Ever since then, Newberry has been persevering through injuries to bring his “A” game week in week out, regardless of the pain. Off the field, Newberry is just as motivated, taking the time to get to know the fans, and to contribute to community. He is the only 49ers player, and one of very few Pro-Athletes who have their own website (www.JNew62.com), and welcomes fans to ask him their questions.
Newberry spent nine weeks of his rookies season on the PUP lists, and was inactive for the rest of the season. He had suffered an ACL injury in mini-camp, one of the few injuries he could not fight through. The Red Shirt year seemed to pay off though. By 1999 Newberry had started all 16 games for the 49ers. He played tackle, and guard on a team that was ranked at the top of the NFL for rushing. Clearly Newberry was back.
In 2000 Newberry again started all 16 games of the season. He was part of one of the best offences in the league that year, and missed just one snap the entire season at center. Newberry had taken over for the Chris Dalman a veteran who suffered a brutal neck injury. With Newberry calling the shots on the offensive line, the 49ers allowed a league low 25 sacks. Newberry became the first player to win the Bobb McKittrick award an award given in memory of McKittrick to the 49ers offensive lineman who “best exemplifies the dedication, excellence and commitment”. Week in and out, Newberry managed to fight through the constant barrage of pain.
In 2001 Newberry started in 16 out of 17 games. He played all season at center but suffered an ankle injury around mid-season. Still Newberry only missed 8 quarters of football with the bad ankle. His performance was enough to send him to the Pro Bowl for the first time ever. Newberry started all 17 games of the 2002 season, but did so despite tremendous pain. Jeremy’s ankle was so badly damaged that he required off-season surgery to remove bone fragments in the ankle.
Heading into the 2003 season, Newberry is recovering from surgery. He persists to practise despite the pain, and despite a ligament tear in his ankle. He decided to postpone the surgery on his ankle until after the season because he did not want to miss a months worth of games. Despite the awesome pain, Newberry anticipates being part of a very successful 2003 season. The 49ers are certainly counting on him. The team has yet to find a backup center that can get the job done even half as well. Last season the team was forced to re-sign Ben Lynch to backup Newberry, and it would not be surprising if a similar situation occurs this training camp.
Camp Questions Answered
In my last article I asked several questions regarding the 2003-4 49ers. Some of the questions have already been answered. I will continue to address the questions in each weeks article.
Terrell Owens: Questions surrounding whether Owens would arrive in camp were answered positively when Owens showed up on time and ready to help his team, despite not having a contract extension in hand.
Special Teams: A big question was whether or not the new coaching staff would take the special teams seriously. With 1 hour practises scheduled every other day, Erickson is making sure his special teams have ample time to practise. He is also encouraging all of his staff to help in the area. How well this bodes for Jeff Chandler and Bill LaFleurs, the teams two kickers, has yet to be determined.
Injuries: The team continues to be dinged up. Primarily minor injuries for the most part, but youngsters Brandon Moore and Kevin Curtis, two promising players, were released because of their injury problems. Many other players are missing from practises with pulled muscles and deep bruises. Tight End Mark Anelli broke his collar bone.