It didn’t take Tony Zendejas long to land on his feet.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) _ It didn’t take Tony Zendejas long to land on his feet.
Hours after being released by the Atlanta Falcons, Zendejas was claimed off waivers Wednesday by the San Francisco 49ers and put to work as the replacement for released kicker Doug Brien.
Brien, the 49ers’ third-round pick out of Cal last year, was cut Monday after failing to convert a last-minute field goal for the second time this season. Brien missed crucial kicks in last Sunday’s 18-17 loss at Indianapolis and a 27-24 loss at Detroit on Sept. 25.
Zendejas joins his fourth NFL team, three of which have been members of the NFC West.
``Last week, I was in Atlanta. Four years I was with the Rams and now I’m here with the 49ers,″ Zendejas said after going through his first practice with San Francisco. ``It seems like I’ve been making trips around the NFC West. Hopefully, this will be it for a while.″
Zendejas said he’s well aware of the fate of his San Francisco predecessor and knows he will have little room for error.
``I’ve been playing long enough in this league to know that you’re only as good as your last kick,″ Zendejas said.
Zendejas kicked for the Falcons last week while Morten Andersen recovered from a muscle pull.
He made two of three field goals against the St. Louis Rams (5-1), the team the 49ers (4-2) play on Sunday.
The 49ers had worked out kickers Roger Ruzek and Jeff Wilkins on Tuesday but then put in the waiver claim when Zendejas became available.
``He has a lot of experience under the gun, so to speak, and he’s had a number of years of success, so he’s the best man available for the job right now,″ San Francisco coach George Seifert said.
Zendejas, 35, is in his 11th year in the league, starting with Houston in 1985. He went to the Rams in 1991 and went 17-for-17 in field goals that season, which stands as the league record for single season consistency.
``As you grow older, you become a better kicker because you’re able to deal with the pressure a lot better,″ Zendejas said. ``I remember when I was younger I used to let things get to me.″
Last year, Zendejas made 18 of 23 field goals for the Rams, but was let go after the team drafted Steve McLaughlin.
Zendejas said he never received an explanation from the Rams for his release.