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Niners add long snapper Ryan Pontbriand

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The San Francisco 49ers learned the hard way in the NFC title game the importance of having solid special teams.  But the team’s first step toward shoring up the third leg of the football stool is a bit of a head scratcher.

Our corporate cousin Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports that the 49ers have signed long snapper Ryan Pontbriand.  The former Brown (whose jersey is being worn in the excellent “factory of sadness” video) will be reunited with former Browns special-teams coordinator Brad Seely.

Though Pontbriand is a former two-time Pro Bowler (2007 and 2008), the team’s current long snapper, Brian Jennings, was a Pro Bowler in 2011 and has a contract through 2014.

At best, Jennings has competition.  (Actually, more competition; the 49ers already have added journeyman Kyle Nelson.)  At worst, Seely has decided that he prefers his former pupil, who is three years younger than Jennings, 35.

Either way, the offseason is the only time any team wants the name of its long snapper to be mentioned.  If it comes up while the games are being played, it means either that he’s been hurt or that he has screwed up.

That’s exactly what happened with Pontbriand in 2011.  He was cut after a couple of bad snaps arguably cost the Browns a win.

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17 Responses to “Niners add long snapper Ryan Pontbriand”
  1. sj39 says: Feb 22, 2012 9:04 AM

    Strange team. I think last year was a bit of a fluke. We’ll see.

  2. godofwine330 says: Feb 22, 2012 9:33 AM

    I didn’t agree with him getting cut at all. He was the most consistant member of the team and after a couple of bad plays he is cut. Greg Little wasn’t cut after dropping all of those passes, I am pretty sure those took a win away. I can name player after player that made errors last year for my Browns, but Pontbriand getting cut just made me sick. Cleveland did the same thing after Byner’s fumble in ’88, cutting a guy after a mistake (actually they traded him for fishing bait aka Mike Oliphant). Glad to see the guy getting another shot in the NFL

  3. sonoco says: Feb 22, 2012 9:44 AM

    In spite of Williams double gaffes in the big game, the 49ers had among the best, if not the best special teams in the NFL in 2011. This 49er fan can’t recall a single botched snap by Jennings . . . EVER. He and his wife just started a family and I’m thinking he may have told the 49ers he’s hanging it up after 12 seasons. Otherwise this makes zero sense to me.

  4. bluerauchmann says: Feb 22, 2012 9:45 AM

    I guess they didn’t have enough special teams problems?

  5. dawgpoundmember says: Feb 22, 2012 9:46 AM

    One mans trash is another mans treasure?

  6. pacodawg says: Feb 22, 2012 9:52 AM

    If anyone is “sick” after a Pontbriand cut you have serious issues. BTW, Pontbriand was drafted by Butch in the 7th round and can’t play any other position. Unbelieveable.

  7. emmac13 says: Feb 22, 2012 9:55 AM

    That position doesn’t get alot of plays. But those few plays are some of the most important. You have to nail it everytime.

  8. tednancy says: Feb 22, 2012 10:12 AM

    Pontbriand was super solid for years until he had a couple bad outings last fall. Keep in mind that the Browns’ special teams were terrible overall last season – after being stellar under Brad Seely the previous couple of seasons. Sure Pontbriand had an off year – but so did everyone else on the Browns special teams unit under the Shurmur regime.

    Not a bad move at all by the Niners to get insurance for their already stellar special teams. And if the insurance is a former All-Pro? Even better. I can’t believe why anyone would criticize this move unless they were ignorant of Seely’s track record.

  9. audient says: Feb 22, 2012 10:14 AM

    Glad to see Ryan Pontbriand get another shot.

  10. waxthat says: Feb 22, 2012 10:36 AM

    @sj39

    If strange means:

    Ridicule for offseason moves and draft picks (in which most, if not all, panned out)

    Hiring Jim Harbaugh (coach of the year)

    Trusting personnel decision with Baalke (executive of the year)

    Strange..hmm, I’ll take it!

  11. mikeyfresh25 says: Feb 22, 2012 10:42 AM

    Pontbriand was drafted in the 5th round not 7th and was actually the highest LS drafted at the time and might still be… Zak Deossie was drafted in the 4th but as a linebacker. Also he was the highest paid LS in NFL history at one point.

  12. godofwine330 says: Feb 22, 2012 10:55 AM

    Thanks, mikeyfresh25, I was just about to correct pacodawg for the 7th round comment. A fifth rounder who up to this point has had two errant snaps in nine NFL seasons with two Pro-Bowl appearances. Not bad for a 5th round pick.

  13. maryannwiththeshakyhands says: Feb 22, 2012 11:28 AM

    Performed his duty perfectly for many seasons then just caught a case of Chuck Knoblauch-itis, couldn’t make the simple throw (simple snap). I’m guessing he’ll bounce back.

  14. nineroutsider says: Feb 22, 2012 11:55 AM

    Something must be brewing with Brian, perhaps he has mentioned retirement because he is still a top, if not the top, long snapper in the league so I can’t see them cutting him. Plus, he gives great radio, I’d miss his interviews. He might have a career in media, maybe we see him on CSN Bay Area in the next couple of years.

  15. biglebronski says: Feb 22, 2012 11:57 AM

    Congrats, Ryan. Gotta love being fired and landing in a much better situation. The rest of the Browns players are now planning ways to follow your lead.

  16. mrfrostyj says: Feb 22, 2012 12:13 PM

    I don’t see a problem with at least seeing if last season was a fluke (Seely might blame the Browns new coordinators) but it’s hard to defend some of those snaps. It looked more like bowling then long snapping on a few of those that would have been game winners for the Browns.

  17. hboilers24 says: Feb 22, 2012 2:24 PM

    Pontbriand was a total BAMF his entire career and got cut because of 2 bad snaps (one of which wasn’t his fault, the guard moved his foot too much and it hit the ball). was really bummed to see him cut. hope he gets a chance to get a ring in san fran.

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