Long snapper Brian Jennings isn't a household name, but 49ers fans likely know him. He was with them for 13 years, so long that he was drafted by the late, great Bill Walsh.
Nothing lasts forever, and Jennings was released Saturday. He had his job taken by undrafted rookie Kevin McDermott. The move was likely financially motivated, since Jennings was scheduled to make $940,000 and McDermott makes $405,000. Jennings was a top-flight long snapper who made very few mistakes since he started on the job. Being released after so many years so the 49ers could save a little more than $500,000 could make someone bitter, and that would be understandable.
Instead, Jennings released a statement through the 49ers that was quite touching, and shows how much being a NFL player means to some of the men lucky enough to live that dream.
Here's Jennings' statement in full. Remember, this was written by a man who just got fired from his high-paying job after 13 seasons. It's as classy an exit as there will be:
“Today, I feel as though I've been honorably discharged from the team I love.
"First, I'd like to thank the York family. Dr. York, Denise, Jed, Tony, Jenna and Mara.. You have blessed my life, God Bless you.
"I'd like to thank the men who brought me to the team and trusted me to contribute: Bill Walsh, Jon McVay, and Bill McPherson.
"To the various coaches that I played for - thank you. Specifically, the first staff lead by head coach Steve Mariucci, it was that group that taught me how to be a pro.
"In addition, I'd like to thank this most recent staff, led by coach Jim Harbaugh, who has returned the 49ers to playing dominate football. I love this game and these men are true football men.
"I'd like to thank my teammates who are my brothers, and heroes. Some of them who had the greatest influence on me and my closest friends include:
"Ray Brown, Garrison Hearst, Derrick Deese, Ken Norton Jr., Jeff Garcia, Derek Smith, Jon Engelberger, Jeff Ulbrich, Julian Peterson, Eric Johnson, Terry Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, Frank Gore, Mike Robison, Joe Nedney, Andy Lee, and Vernon Davis.
"Currently the team is full of men who are more than capable of not only carrying on a tradition of winning but bringing Championships back to the 49ers.
"In a very real way I learned to be a man as a 49ers. Molded through the preparation and performance of game day. Completely tested while on and off the field this team, game, and group of men made me who I am today.
"God has blessed me, protected me, and guided my path. Now, as I move on, I have faith that God will continue to do for me what He has done my entire life.
"God Bless you and God bless the San Francisco 49ers.”