When you come tantalizingly close to Super Bowl glory, you learn more than ever before how much every little thing matters in the game of football. That’s why Trent Baalke and the San Francisco 49ers have done so much to bolster their special team’s units this off-season, and continued that effort Tuesday by signing veteran Pro Bowl kicker Phil Dawson to a one-year contract.
I’ve said to myself that I could deal with the Niners drafting and starting a rookie kicker in 2013 because he couldn’t do much worse than David Akers did a year ago, but the truth is that no Super Bowl-caliber team chasing a Lombardi Trophy should have to put their trust in such an unproven commodity.
And while I do still believe San Fran should and will select a kicker in the upcoming NFL Draft, every member of the 49ers Faithful will be much more relaxed on Sundays when the 38-year-old Dawson, who converted 29 of his 31 attempts in 2012, is the one booting the football through the uprights.
That said, he’s got some learning to do. The winds at Candlestick Park are no joke, and this is the final season they’ll be able to torture the pigskin in ways unknown to man.
So, Dawson will have to deal with that for basically the first time in his 14-year career. He kicked a whopping two field goals at The Stick in all those seasons, missing a 48-yarder and nailing one from 52.
Although most organizations are against the idea of keeping two kickers on the active roster, the 49ers could opt to do that and allow a youngster to learn behind the Pro Bowl veteran while waiting for a shot.
Either way, San Francisco’s kicking game once again looks to be in good hands. At least for now.