As first reported by ESPN, the San Francisco 49ers have confirmed that longsnapper Kyle Nelson has been suspended without pay for 10 games by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. It’s the longest suspension ever for a 49ers player. Nelson, in a statement issued by the 49ers, pegged tainted supplements as a reason for his positive test.
“I have been taking the same supplements for my entire time with the 49ers, while undergoing often simultaneous testing by the NFL with no issues,” Nelson said in his statement. “I do not deviate from my nutrition routine … When the product is identified I fully intend to seek legal action against the manufacturer to protect against this happening to other players in the future.”
Nelson said he is currently having his supplements tested, in hopes of uncovering the source of the positive test. He will begin serving the suspension immediately.
“We are certainly disappointed to be losing Kyle for 10 games,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “Hopefully this serves as a reminder to all of our players that they need to take the proper steps to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies.”
Last week, NFL reporter Howard Balzer reported that San Francisco worked out five long snappers: former Raider Jon Condo, Tanner Carew, Lucas Gravelle, Colin Holba and Taybor Penner, so the 49ers at least had some notice of Nelson’s upcoming suspension.
Nelson, 32, is the third-longest-tenured member of the 49ers, behind tight end Garrett Celek (seventh year) and left tackle Joe Staley (12th year), having been with San Francisco since 2014, and starting in 76 straight games.
Nelson entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2011, but couldn’t hang on with either the New Orleans Saints or Atlanta Falcons practice squads. He spent the 2012 offseason and preseason games with the 49ers, but lost out to veteran Brian Jennings, who himself was shown the door in 2013 in favor of Kevin McDermott.
He spent 2012 on the practice squad with the Philadelphia Eagles, until he was picked up by the San Diego Chargers for six games. He attended training camp in 2013 with the Seattle Seahawks, and played 11 games with the Washington Redskins, before re-joining San Francisco in 2014. He signed a three-year extension in 2015.
Forty Niners wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr., currently on the practice squad, served a four-game PED suspension at the start of the season.
Players who test positive for HGH, steroids, stimulants or other banned substances under the league performance-enhancing substances policy can receive up to a six-game suspension.
A player with a second PED violation receives a 10-game suspension, and a third violation will result in a two-year ban. It is not known if or when Nelson served his first suspension. His upcoming 10-game suspension edges Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension in 2014 for violating the league’s personal-conduct and substance-abuse policies as the longest suspension ever for a San Francisco player.
Nelson will be eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games following the 2018 season, and prior to resuming his suspension at the start of the 2019 regular season. He is slated to be a free agent after the end of the 2018 campaign.