SANTA CLARA (AP) — Even at 41 and heading into his 18th NFL season, Phil Dawson is ready for a new challenge.
Wind sprints in practice under new coach Chip Kelly for the veteran kicker? You bet.
“I have a feeling I’ll find out pretty soon. But I welcome that,” Dawson said Monday. “I’ve always been a guy that tries to be one of the guys. I’m not expecting to be treated like a weird kicker. I want to be a football player who is a member of the team. So whatever things coach Kelly and strength and conditioning staff want out of me, I’m going to work my best to be able to do them.”
Dawson signed his new one-year contract to stay with the 49ers, after reaching agreement on the deal Friday.
He met with general manager Trent Baalke immediately after the season ended and expressed his desire to stick around. The 49ers announced the signing Monday. Dawson, who will enter his fourth year with San Francisco after spending his first 14 years with the Browns, made 24 of 27 field goals last season, including a long of 54 yards.
“Phil is a consummate professional whose production on the field and his leadership in both the locker room and the community have been great assets to our organization,” Baalke said. “He has an impressive approach to his craft that has allowed him to consistently rank among the best in the business throughout his career. We are pleased that Phil has chosen to continue his accomplished career with the 49ers.”
The 41-year-old Dawson had said he wanted to play at least another season and expressed his desire to remain with the Niners despite no longer handling kickoff — something he misses. Dawson has said he considers it a “win-win” because he has been able to concentrate all of his efforts on field goals and PATs and feels much better physically over the grind of a long NFL season. He also enjoyed being a mentor to rookie punter Bradley Pinion last season.
Dawson has been working out with a trainer at home in Austin, Texas.
“It’s weird. From about 30 years old to about 35, I had some offseasons there where I wondered how much longer I could do this,” Dawson said. “When I turned 35, I started changing the way I trained in the offseason and really felt better and better each and every year. As I sit here right now, I feel great.”
Along with being one of the steadiest kickers in the league, Dawson also has been a valuable influence and example in a locker room that has dealt with its share of turmoil and change in recent years. The 49ers went 5-11 last season, fired first-year coach Jim Tomsula and replaced him with former Eagles coach Kelly.
Now-Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the team parted ways at the end of the 2014 season after missing the playoffs following three straight trips to the NFC championship game, including a loss to Baltimore in the Super Bowl in February 2013.