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March 19, 2013
New kicker Dawson eager for a rainy day at Candlestick


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night ...

General manager Trent Baalke today cited Phil Dawson's bad-weather prowess as one of the reasons why the 49ers thought so highly of the 14-year kicker and why the team signed him to a one-year deal. Indeed, Dawson spent his career kicking on the shores of Lake Erie and in other nearby cities - Pittsburgh, for instance - where the weather turns nasty starting in the late fall.

He hasn't, however, had a lot of practice inside Candlestick Park. Dawson, in fact, is 1-2 in two appearances in San Francisco in 2011 and 2003. One of the questions he asked team officials during his recent visit was weather the stadium was accessible in the offseason. The answer is yes, and Dawson said he'd monitor the weather reports as soon as he brings his family to the Bay Area.

"And when it's supposed to be bad days, you can find me in there," he said. "Because I want to get in there and I want to start hitting balls and I want to see what's going on and get a game plan. That's part of my job. I don't necessarily have an opponent across the line of scrimmage I have to study and be prepared for but I do need to know the conditions I'm going to face."

Dawson kicked in only one playoff game in 14 seasons in Cleveland, and he said the 49ers' recent success was one of the reasons he chose San Francisco. The area and the opportunity to rejoin special teams coordinator Brad Seely, who was in Cleveland in 2009-10, were other factors.

"When you start mixing all that together, even for an idiot like me it's a pretty easy decision," he said.

The only downside? The team's stand-out punter, Andy Lee, currently wears No. 4, which is what Dawson has worn since he played at the University of Texas. Dawson said he began explaining to his kids that he probably won't be able to wear No. 4 anymore and he asked them for recommendations.

"And one of my boys goes, 'Be No. 8,'" Dawson recalled. "I said, 'Son, in San Francisco you don't wear No. 8. Let's try another number.' So that's probably going to be a family decision what we wind up wearing. I don't know that I can pry No. 4 away from Andy. He's worn it well."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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