Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in–90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we’ll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we’ll have more than one so it’s not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it’s worked so far. Who am I to argue?
The San Francisco 49ers head into the 2015 season with a chance to have some continuity at one under-the-radar position of importance. The long snapper position is often overlooked, and really the only time anybody notices the long snapper is when he makes a mistake.
Kyle Nelson has had three opportunities with the 49ers. He signed a reserve/future contract with the team in 2012, and was cut late in training camp. He bounced around in 2012, and then signed with the 49ers again in the 2013 offseason. He competed with Brian Jennings and Kevin McDermott, losing out to McDermott. The 49ers then brought back Nelson a third time last offseason on a one-year deal. This time he beat out McDermott for the job. He had one or two snaps that were a bit off, but for the most part he continued the generally solid work of the 49ers long snapper. Simply put, we did not have to mention his name particularly often.
Nelson also serves as a potential emergency tight end. He did not appear as such during the 2014 regular season, but did get some work in during the 2014 preseason. Against the San Diego Chargers, Nelson had one catch for six yards. A week later, he lit up the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter, catching two red zone touchdown passes (5-yards and 2-yards).
The 49ers seem happy with Nelson, as they signed him to a four-year extension earlier this offseason. The deal included a $600,000 signing bonus, and four years of base salaries under $1,000,000. His cap hits will max out at $1,150,000 in 2017 and 2018.
Why he might improve in 2015
He has a year under his belt with the 49ers, and two shorter stints with the Chargers and Washington. He is learning his craft following what was a trek across the league. In his second full starting season, maybe we see a little bit more. Ideally, he just has a steady year and we are not talking about him at any point. Well, I suppose he could make a notable play as the emergency tight end. That would be something.
Why he might regress in 2015
The biggest concern at this point is developing rhythm with a new punter and holder. Bradley Pinion is taking over those duties, which means he and Nelson need to work on their timing. They have plenty of time for that, but we'll see what happens when regular game action gets going.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers signed Nelson to a four-year contract extension, so he is not going anywhere this year. At some point I expect competition to be brought in, but I imagine Nelson is settled as the long snapper for at least the next two seasons. Things can certainly change, but based on what we've seen so far, I don't see him going anywhere anytime soon.