Unlike Raiders, 49ers prepared at backup long snapper

September 11, 2012, 9:00 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- When Raiders Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo was forced to leave Monday night's loss to the Chargers with a concussion, the last person you expected to "wish it never happened" was the man who was granted the opportunity to get on the field in his absence.

But that's exactly what happened after Travis Goethel muffed two snaps to punter Shane Lechler and the Raiders lost their season opener.

Oakland seemed unprepared when Condo went down, and it's a situation the 49ers are never expecting to encounter. To start, their Pro Bowl long snapper Brian Jennings hasn't missed a game since he assumed the role before the 2000 season. And to finish, their backup long snappers -- Dan Kilgore and Larry Grant -- are groomed for their pressure-hiking moment.

Kilgore is the backup long snapper this year, and Grant was listed as the backup last season. Are they prepared for the pressure of snapping the ball to their 6-foot-2 punter with the world watching on fourth-and-distance?

"Always," Kilgore said.

"I'm ready." Grant added.

The 49ers practice the punt every other day. Jennings takes the lion's share of the first-team snaps, but don't think Kilgore doesn't get involved.

"You've got to be ready," Kilgore said. "You've got to work at it throughout the week."

Head coach Jim Harbaugh frequently talks about pursuing perfection through significant time on task. The 49ers coaching staff ensures even the backup long snapper -- often thought of as a throwaway position without a designated roster spot in the NFL -- is not ignored.

"The coaches would never just throw you on the field unprepared," Kilgore said. "There's a lot of reps, a lot of time."

And many of those practice snaps land directly into the hands of punter Andy Lee, unlike in Oakland, where Lechler estimated the number of snaps he takes from Goether every week to be "zero."

After 193 consecutive appearances for Jennings, the 49ers aren't expecting to need either Kilgore or Grant for their long-snapping skills, but they're ready.