Well-Traveled Punter Tom Rouen Arrives in San Francisco

As for us all, the preseason is long for San Francisco 49ers fans: Over on the coast, the red-and-gold faithful have suffered through seasons of 2-14 and 4-12 with arguably the worst NFL teams in both years.

But San Francisco football devotees need not be downcast about their 49ers further, as the NFL was awash in hype surrounding a move that might change the fortunes of the currently hapless franchise.

It’s true: Punter Tom Rouen is now a member of the San Francisco 49ers and rookie Tom “The Bomb” Malone has been released.

Ten days after NFC champion Seattle Seahawks gave Rouen his walking papers, 49ers brass leapt at the chance to grab this much-traveled well-seasoned punter. How many other teams can claim they have a former World League of American Football all-star on their roster?

After that 1992 campaign with the Ohio Glory, Rouen broke in with the Denver Broncos and stuck around there long enough to ink his name in Bronco record books. Then he hit the road again. In 2002, Rouen must have set some sort of record in futility, crossing the rosters of the Broncos, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers in three months.

In 2003 and part of 2004, Rouen was with Seattle. He was waived. The punter was signed by the Carolina Panthers before the 2005 season. He was released. The Seahawks inserted him in the starting spot in October and Rouen played all the way into Seattle’s losing Super Bowl bid. He was released.

Meanwhile, released in favor of Rouen was unsigned rookie free agent Tom Malone. Malone became something of a curiosity in his sophomore year at USC when he was named the All-American punter, yet ultimately didn’t total enough attempts to win the national punting title. At that time, Malone said “I would rather never go on the field at allâÂ?¦” Ironically, the Bomb may not get a shot on the NFL field now.

And so the preseason continues with new hope in San Francisco, and all are watching the new punter controversy between grizzled veteran Rouen and young Andy Lee, last year’s starter. No matter the outcome, things are soon to be turned around for the San Francisco 49ers on special teams, with the playoffs not out of sight and, and just a few wins, and…oh, excuse me. Got a bit carried away there.

Geez, pre-season is long, huh?

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