If not headlines, Jennings should receive plenty of thanks.
He should receive thanks from the entire 49ers organization. He should receive thanks from each of the 49ers' fans. Overall, he should receive thanks from his peers.
Jennings was a class act from start to finish. While long snappers rarely garner the attention that most other positions in football receive, there can be no doubting that Jennings was among the best at what he did. He deserves thanks for that too.
We all know the business of football. It is not difficult to understand that players cannot go on playing this game forever. All things, whether good or bad, must come to an end. This applies to Jennings as well.
Jennings was the longest-tenured 49er on the roster heading into 2013. Drafted in the seventh round back in 2000, Jennings is the last 49er who can still say that he was a teammate of Jerry Rice.
Jennings was also a player who witnessed the previous era of San Francisco good fortune under the coaching of Steve Mariucci. He also stayed solid with the team through the dark years in the middle of the last decade.
Yet the business of football, being what it is, mandates change.
Jennings, at age 36, was set to earn a base salary of $940,000 this season. His eventual replacement, rookie Kevin McDermott will earn a base salary of $405,000. If getting younger and cheaper is a necessity in today's NFL, the switch makes sense.
Yet Jennings' release is more than just what it appears on paper. It is a farewell bid to one of the classiest characters to ever don a 49er uniform. Even Jennings handled the news with typical class. After his release, Jennings stated:
Today, I feel as though I've been honorably discharged from the team I love. Currently, the team is full of men who are more than capable of not only carrying on a tradition of winning but bringing championships back to the 49ers. In a very real way I learned to be a man while with the 49ers—molded through the preparation and performance of game day, completely tested while on and off the field this game, this team and this group of men made me who I am today. God bless you and God bless the San Francisco 49ers.
Jennings' entire statement, published via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, can be viewed here.
The things that made Jennings so special need to be mentioned before I properly thank him. In an interview with ESPN writer Mike Sando, Tacoma News Tribune writer Dave Boling sang Jennings' accolades.
Boling stated about Jennings:
One of the best. Precision and consistency. Speed is great and Jennings had that, but you have to be able to do it again and again and again. Secondarily is being able to block. He was one who could snap without looking. He could bring his head up and watch the defenders, then snap it blind. Then, some guys just aim for the middle of the punter. Others aim for the right hip, which is where the punter will drop it over that right foot. He had that. And he was athletic enough, certainly in his younger days, to cover a little bit, too.
Jennings was not just a great guy and a wonderful teammate, he was an elite long snapper. He should forever be regarded as one of the 49er greats.
As such, we need to thank him.
Jennings may never read this, but in case he does, I would hope that he receives our thanks and can look back upon his days in San Francisco with pride and adoration.
On behalf of every fan of the San Francisco 49ers, I would like to extend my congratulations and heartfelt thanks for your 13-year career with this team.
I would like to thank you for your sincerity both on and off the field. From everything that I have heard and read, you were a fantastic teammate and an epitome of what it means to be a part of the 49ers.
I would like to thank you for your in-depth interviews on San Francisco's flagship station KNBR 680. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your analysis and descriptions when you would call in on a regular basis. I hope that you shall continue to do so in the future.
I would like to thank you for sticking with this team when the 49ers were going through some rough times during the middle of the 2000s. It would have been easy for anybody to want to move on to a contender, yet you remained loyal to this franchise and its fans. Nobody would have questioned you if you decided to move on. The fact that you stayed here speaks volumes about you and your character.
I would like to thank you for your excellent playmaking abilities and your desire to get this team back on its feet. You were a part of the solution which has helped return the 49ers back to prominence.
In this day of high-profile and egotistic athletes, we fans can often overlook the attributes and personalities of individuals who are employed by our favorite franchises. In your case however, you combined both skill and determination with class and distinction.
I hope that young fans of the 49ers and of football in general, will look up to the example you have set. I also hope and trust that your San Francisco teammates will also look back on your career here and let that be an influence on their respective careers as well.
We fans will miss you in red and gold this season and in seasons to come. We are thankful that we got to see you play and are grateful for the loyalty and honesty you gave to this team and this city.
With that in our minds, I know that your tenure here will be remembered for a long time.
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and am greatly thankful of the services you have given to the San Francisco 49ers.
A Member of the 49ers' Faithful
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.
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