Earl Mitchell (92) has had his option turned down by the 49ers. (Courtesy Karen/Flickr)

San Francisco 49ers announce Nelson extension, decline Mitchell’s option

With the official beginning of free agency in the NFL, and the beginning of the new league year at 1 p.m. Pacific, the San Francisco 49ers have begun to announce some of their previously-reported moves.

No, not those moves.

San Francisco officially announced that they have signed suspended long snapper Kyle Nelson to a four-year deal, and declined the 2019 contract option for defensive lineman Earl Mitchell.

Nelson, 32, was suspended by the NFL for the final four games of the 2018 season for a second violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and still would have to serve the final six games of that suspension at the start of next season, though he can take part in practices and preseason games.

San Francisco had signed Colin Holba to finish out the season, and it would make sense if he would continue on through the first six games as Nelson serves the rest of his suspension. That means the 49ers will have two long snappers on their roster to start the season.

Nelson’s extension comes after San Francisco signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. He had previous experience with head coach Kyle Shanahan, having snapped in Washington in 2013. He was with San Diego before that. He has played in every game for the four-plus seasons he’s been with the 49ers, prior to his suspension, handled the long snapping duties for 76 games. He also registered 17 tackles and recovered a fumble on special teams. He was placed on the Reserve/Suspended List on December 4, 2018.

Mitchell originally signed with San Francisco as a free agent on February 25, 2017. He appeared in 30 games (28 starts) over the past two seasons and registered 61 tackles, four passes defensed, one sack and one fumble recovery.

It’s expected that San Francisco will still look to sign a mid-level safety (potentially bringing back Jimmie Ward), a mid-level cornerback and a wide receiver as free agency rolls on.

With the start of the new league year, the trade and extension for pass rusher Dee Ford can be announced, as can the free agent deal for inside linebacker Kwon Alexander and contract options for Cassius Marsh and Dekoda Watson. Arik Armstead’s fifth-year option will also become guaranteed.

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