When he has the ball in his hands, 49ers tight end Brian Jennings is one of the best at what he does.
But this is not your typical tight end. You seldom see the 6-foot-5, 242-pound player running routes, going deep, or being a threat near the goal line.
Yet Jennings knows his team can count on him to avoid making mistakes when he has the football.
Simply because, Jennings has solidified the special teams unit as the 49ers' long snapper.
Since being drafted in the seventh round back in 2000 out of Arizona State, he has not made any glaring mistakes when San Francisco calls upon him. He has been recognized as one of the NFL's most consistent long snappers in his nine-year career.
Jennings never tenses up when handling snap duties. He's even valuable on kick coverages, with his 53 career tackles being one of the highest among NFL long snappers.
He even made the Pro Bowl as a specialist in 2004, after receiving a special selection from former Falcon coach Jim Mora Jr.
He now has a five-year contract through 2014 to back up the claim of him being among the best at what he does.
“In a position like mine, longevity is one of your only accomplishments,” Jennings said in a news release recently. “I play a don’t-screw-it-up position. It feels good to be loved, to be wanted, to be appreciated for something I put so much time into.”
Jennings is not the 49ers starting tight end. In fact, he's rarely listed on the 49ers tight end depth chart. So he had to find a way to contribute to his team.
He's even admitted that his role as long snapper was shaky at first when he was a rookie. He didn't fully settle into his role until his second season with the 49ers.
“I was driving back to Arizona, and I was thinking, ‘I can do this,”’ Jennings said in a news release.
Jennings has now handled snapping duties for his entire career. He makes sure that the ball goes to the hands of former Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee on fourth and long situations.
He also snaps it too Lee on field goals, so that Joe Nedney can put three points on the board.
Even with a position that has less scrutiny from the media and team, Jennings is actually one of the most talkative and exuberant 49ers.
Most long snappers usually thrive on being anonymous, but not Jennings. He seems like a player with great pride at what he does.
He recalls one of his finest moments coming in a 2005 regular season game at Chicago. Through blistering winds and bitter cold, Jennings snapped to perfection and helped the 49ers score their only points, even on a day when the club completed only one pass.
“It feels good that in big situations, the harder it gets, the better I do,” Jennings said.
With a Pro Bowl selection and new five-year contract, its clear that the 49er tight end is very good when he has the ball in his hands.
Even if its long-snapping.
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