SANTA CLARA -- Long-snapper Kyle Nelson returns to the field for the 49ers on Sunday, hoping to return to his role in virtual anonymity.
Nelson was activated on Saturday to enable him to make his season debut against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium. He hopes his return to the playing field will be thoroughly unremarkable.
“It’s having a great kicker, having a great punter and holder, that’s what makes us look better by not being noticed,” said Nelson, whom completed his 10-game for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The 49ers released wide receiver Jordan Matthews to make room for Nelson on the 53-man roster.
Nelson is the fourth long-snapper the 49ers employed in his absence, following Colin Holba, Jon Condo and Garrison Sanborn. Nelson has been the 49ers’ primary long-snapper since 2014.
“I’m just trying to be better than I was before I left, come in and help everybody and help continue the winning,” Nelson said.
Kicker Robbie Gould struggled in the first six games of the season, making just 12 of his 19 field-goal attempts. Gould has already missed more kicks than during any season of his 15-year career.
Nelson, 33, said he unknowingly took a supplement that was tainted with a banned substance. He said he tested for 0.4 nanograms of the substance. While he was on suspension, the 49ers signed Nelson to a four-year, $4.5 million contract extension.
“The Niners organization has been amazing through this whole process,” he said. “It’s been rough, and they’ve had my back since Day 1. It’s been awesome. I don’t know if this would’ve been like this anywhere else.
“They trusted me that I would never knowingly do anything, take anything illegal, and if I did, I’d be the first to admit it. For them to believe me and have my back through this whole thing has been amazing.”