Contra Costa Times

Value of snapper takes a big hike
January 08, 2003
Jennings' worth is shown clearly after the 49ers' win over Giants

By Cam Inman

Long snapper Brian Jennings' value to the 49ers resurfaced Sunday. How so?

If you didn't realize it during the 49ers' 39-38 first-round playoff victory over the New York Giants -- which is highly probable because of the 49ers' amazing comeback -- consider what Jennings' counterpart on the New York Giants told reporters afterward.

"I cost 58 guys a chance to go to the Super Bowl," said Giants long snapper Trey Junkin, whose bad snap on the game's final play foiled the Giants' attempt at a game-winning field goal.

If it takes catastrophes like that by the opposition to earn Jennings recognition for his usually flawless play, he'll take it.

"It's a position where I can't win a game, I can only lose it," Jennings said Monday about being a long snapper. "We have people that make plays to win games, like Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens and Tai Streets. My job is not to lose it. It's my role on this team."

When Bruce DeHaven, the 49ers special teams coach, addressed his unit Monday, one of the first things he did was recognize Jennings.

"Brian Jennings, I'm glad you're on our team," DeHaven said he announced. "He's been an outstanding snapper in his three years here."

DeHaven often has praised Jennings the past couple seasons as one of the league's premier snappers. Junkin probably could have been considered in that group, too, having snapped in the NFL for 19 years before Giants coach Jim Fassel summoned him out of retirement last week to replace the injured Dan O'Leary.

"He's had a really good career," Jennings said of Junkin, who was with the Raiders from 1985-89 and again in 1996. "He was in a really difficult situation. He was at his house all year, and they call him up and tell him to snap in the biggest game to date."

Jennings said he could recall committing only two bad snaps since the 49ers made him a seventh-round draft pick in 2000 out of Arizona State. One was on a point-after attempt his rookie season, and the other coming on a punt Dec. 8 at Dallas.

"I look at the way those guys fought back, how they'd come off the field. Those guys played their hearts and guts out," Jennings said of his teammates' efforts Sunday. "I don't want to be the guy to take it away from them. I can't go out there and cost them the game."

Jennings, who will become a restricted free agent at season's end, has been a stabilizing force on the 49ers' ever-changing special teams.

"I never want to give them an excuse to fire me," Jennings said.

Kicker Jeff Chandler said of Jennings: "Brian's the best snapper I've seen in our games this season. He's underappreciated, but now he'll get more recognition."

NOTES: The 49ers worked out veteran linebacker Terry Killens, who led the 49ers in special teams tackles last season. Killens played two games this season with the Seattle Seahawks before being released Dec. 9. ... Giants wide receiver and De La Salle High School graduate Amani Toomer, speaking to the New York Daily News on Monday about the 49ers: "I don't see them doing much better. I think they're a team with a lot of holes in it. ... You play a team like that and you wonder how they got so far."

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