Kevin McDermott stayed calm and collected throughout training camp and eventually won the starting long snapper job unseating 13-year veteran Brian Jennings in the process during the final roster cuts. The 49ers saved $530K for the 2014 season by having a younger player at the same position.
Despite winning the competition, McDermott said Jennings helped him to where he is now. The undrafted rookie out of UCLA said Jennings is someone to look up to.
"He's been in the league for a number of years," McDermott said. "He was a great guy and a great mentor to me and I appreciate what he did. [Jennings] is a role model for anyone who enters the NFL at my position. Look at how he handles himself as a professional because he's been through it all from winning seasons, losing seasons and pressure situations."
The competition was fierce throughout training camp with McDermott succeeding in the preseason. In the last two preseason games against the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers, the rookie was successful on every snap without any problems on special teams.
When dealing with special teams coach Brad Seely, McDermott dealt with some adversity when making mistakes, but improved as training camp progressed. His secret to competing was not to worry about what others were doing, but knowing it's only about what he can control and not his competition.
"You have to come in and not worry about what everyone else is doing," McDermott said. "Worry about yourself getting better. You have to worry about what you're doing in the moment."
McDermott successfully snapped the ball for a combined 11 times on PATs, punts and field goals against the Green Bay Packers in the season opener. There was only one picky mistake where one of the punting snaps was lightly off, but it was an otherwise perfect outing on Sunday.
The undrafted rookie long snapper hopes to continue to build upon the success from training camp into the regular season. He says every performance can't be flawless and that he needs to continue working hard for consistency.
"It's one of those things where you take what you do on the field," McDermott said. "You study from it and learn, not to make those mistakes again. It's okay to make a mistake, but it can't be an error repeater."