Nate Boyer’s latest mission: Play in the NFL
By Eric Branch on April 16, 2015
To put it mildly, Nate Boyer isn’t your typical draft prospect.
The 34-year-old former Texas long snapper is older than all but three players on the 49ers roster (Phil Dawson, Justin Smith and Anquan Boldin) and has spent more time in fatigues than a football uniform: Prior to playing organized football for the first time as a 29-year-old college student, the Dublin native was a Green Beret who earned a Bronze Star in Iraq.
Given his service, Boyer, who will attend the 49ers’ local pro day Friday, is presumably undaunted by his latest mission: Earning a spot on the 53-man roster of an NFL team.
Boyer’s age, inexperience and modest size (5-11, 220) make him a long shot, but as he recently told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: “I’m not your average 34-year-old.”
Boyer made the team at Texas as a walk-on who figured to only serve as an inspirational symbol – he led the Longhorns onto the field carrying the American flag – but he turned himself into an accurate long snapper: He didn’t have an errant snap while playing in 38 straight games the past three seasons.
The 49ers aren’t necessarily in the market for a long snapper – Kyle Nelson, 28, capably handled the duties last year – but they’ve made surprising switches at the position the past two years. In 2013, rookie Kevin McDermott replaced 13-year veteran Brian Jennings, before Nelson assumed McDermott’s spot last year.
The 49ers have typically carried two long snappers on their offseason roster in recent years. Given that, it’s conceivable Boyer could land a free-agent contract with a strong performance Friday.
In discussing his NFL quest, Boyer drew a parallel to his military background.
“The stakes are not the same, of course,” he told King. “But you have to have the mindset that you will not be broken. No one will take the will away from you. That is the way I live.”