By Jerrell Richardson
The NFL is a business, and although it was not the most popular move, the releasing of long snapper Brian Jennings is clearly the right move for the 49ers. Jennings played 13 seasons in the NFL, all with the 49ers and just last year was named to his second Pro Bowl. He was the longest tenured player on the team, joining the team in 2000 and played on the same team as 49er legend Jerry Rice. However, when it was all said and done, he was not the best value for the team moving forward, and while the decision to cut him was difficult from a personal standpoint, when looking at it as a business it makes perfect sense.
Not Worth It
As pay scales are affected by experience, Jennings was set to earn $940,000 this season. That is more than double the cost of the man replacing Jennings, rookie Kevin McDermott. Although Jennings was one of the best at his position, the reality is that the fall off will not be dramatic. There were 2,448 punts in 2013 with only 21 blocks and only two teams had more than one. It also can’t be ignored that one of the 21 blocked punts was by the 49ers so it’s not as though Jennings was perfect.
Any time a player has been around as long as Brian Jennings it’s going to be tough to see him go, but when considering the dollars and cents, it would have made no sense to keep him. This move is also not really a surprise. The 49ers made it clear at the start of camp that McDermott was going to take over the position, and tried to see if there were any teams interested in picking up Jennings, but like the 49ers, no team saw the value in a 13-year veteran long snapper.
Before his release, Jennings was willing to help out his understudy, as his loyalty was to the team, and he wants the 49ers to succeed moving forward. He also released a statement that showed he has no hard feelings, thanking everyone from the owners to the fans, showing the rest of the world, the correct way to make your exit from a team, with class and respect, which is indicative of the 49er organization.
Packers Hope to Gain Insight Into 49ers Offense
With three quarterbacks on the roster, it was no surprise that the 49ers released Scott Tolzien. The former Wisconsin standout spent two years in the San Francisco system and never grabbed the backup role, and with new faces playing better, it was decided it was time to part ways. The surprise came when he was picked up by the same Green Bay Packers who had Vince Young in camp and decided to let him go, and already had B.J. Coleman slated as the backup to Aaron Rodgers. However, this move was made for the film room and not the playing field.
After spending two years in the 49er system, Tolzien has to know what is going on behind closed doors, and will be a valuable brain for Green Bay to pick as the teams prepare for their week 1 meeting. If Young couldn’t make the Packers it’s hard to imagine that Tolzien was more than a move to help the Packers figure out a way to gain the upper hand on a 49er team that beat them twice last year.
Roster cuts are always tricky and San Francisco will have to wait and see if these moves were the right ones, but there is nothing to indicate that they were wrong. In terms of Jennings and McDermott the 49ers have spent the entire offseason and preseason auditioning McDermott and he passed with flying colors. Scott Tolzien may very well go to the Packers and tell them the ins and outs of the 49er offense, but he is not the only player in the NFL to go from one to another, and the alternative to keep him, would be foolish if the only reason is so that he doesn’t go and share team secrets.
Dollars Make Sense
The bottom line is that Brian Jennings, Scott Tolzien and the other players released by San Francisco did not figure into their Super Bowl plans, so they had to go. The beauty of the NFL is that the talented ones will catch on with another team and if worthy of a NFL roster spot will be given one. The 49ers can only be concerned with their 53-man roster, and picking the players that not only give them the best chance at winning now, but are worth their paycheck.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.