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.