19 years and the 49ers have had just three (3) long snappers. There was Brian Jennings who played Old Faithful from 2000-2012, and then Kevin McDermott who took the duty in 2013. Kyle Nelson showed up in 2014 and has had the job since.
Nelson bounced around the league, including stops with the 49ers before getting snapped up for long snapping duties. His main position is tight end, and at this point, if you see him lining up there, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. While Nelson hasn’t gotten into the Pro Bowl as a long snapper, he’s been a solid choice.
But 2019 comes with one minor wrinkle: Nelson will be unavailable to start the season due to a 10-game suspension thrown down last year. Details have something to do with a PED violation and Nelson not having much knowledge of what he took at the time, but the NFL is having none of that. He began his term in 2018 and has six-games left to finish in 2019 before he’s available for duty.
It’s disappointing, but not disappointing enough that the 49ers felt a need to move on, as they extended him to 2022 in a decent deal. Sure, there’s a suspension, but beyond that, if it aint broke, don’t fix it. As long as Nelson doesn’t find himself in trouble again, the 49ers have no need to look for a new long snapper.
Experience: 8th season
He has signed a four year extension through 2022. His 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed on the third day after reinstatement for a cap number of $1.38 million.
What to expect in 2019
Nelson has one job and he does it well: snap the ball on field goals and punts. His stat totals beyond that are miniscule. The last notch on Pro Football Reference was a fumble recovery and that was in 2017. As we said, don’t expect to see Nelson lining up at tight end unless a train wreck were to occur on gameday. . Nelson will be snapping the ball to punters and kickers alike and that won’t be changing anytime soon.
Not much changes with age in relation to the position as well, so the odds of a huge regression are unlikely. Nelson is what he is: a solid long-snapper.
Odds of making the roster
If you think they should bump Nelson for someone else. Watch this. That game linked was an old Monday Night Football game where the Oakland Raiders couldn’t snap a punt to save their lives. Nelson already has signed a four-year extension which means the 49ers intend on keeping him around. If a rookie comes in on a UDFA contract and can snap it better than him, and the 49ers find it necessary to save $800k or so in cap space, then by all means, but Nelson will be on the roster. The said “rookie” would have an extensive window to push Nelson out of a job given his suspension, but don’t count on it. The 49ers extended Nelson long after knowing the league was going to nail him with this, they have no intention on moving on.