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December 11, 2013
Bad weather, good kicker: Dawson's confidence, comfort level growing


Not only has Phil Dawson struck home a franchise-record 20 straight field goals, which won him the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award today. His streak has included a couple of challenging-weather games that should serve well should the 49ers go on the road to, say, Philadelphia or Chicago in the first week in January or perhaps to Seattle in the third week. (Or perhaps to Northern New Jersey in the first week of February).

Dawson, of course, has plenty of experience kicking in snow and wind and ice. He played 14 seasons for the Browns on the shore of Lake Erie, after all. Last year in Cleveland he made 93.5 percent of the his attempts, including all seven from 50 yards or longer.

But his battery mates don't have that kind of winter wonderland experience, especially rookie longsnapper Kevin McDermott, who played at UCLA. Which is why the 49ers' Nov. 25 game in Washington and Sunday's game at Candlestick Park were valuable, Dawson said this week.

Against the Redskins, the temperature at kickoff was 35 degrees with winds up to 15 mph. Dawson hit field goals of 29 and 49 yards in that game. It was 43 degrees when the game started against the Seahawks on Sunday. But the temperature dropped and the wind picked up after halftime. On the final drive, Dawson said it was important that the 49ers drove the ball as close as possible to the end zone.

"Every yard counted," he said. "Because on a windy day, sometimes what you don't want to do is pop the ball straight up in the air because it will move on you."

Dawson's 22-yard field goal won the game for San Francisco, and he also was good from 23, 48 and 52 yards. All of which means that his confidence - and his comfort with McDermott and holder Andy Lee -- is growing with every week.

"Obviously there were some pretty ridiculous weather games around the league (Sunday), and I don't know if you can ever really prepare for those," Dawson said. "But one thing about being a professional is you've just got to show up on any given Sunday and figure out how you're going to get the job done that day. And I feel like we can do that."

-- 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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