When free agency is all said and done, and after the San Francisco 49ers complete their draft haul and get everyone signed, one signing made on Tuesday will probably be overlooked by that time. Kickers can make or break a team's season, whether it be during the regular season or down the stretch in the playoffs. We've seen how poorly things can go without a consistent kicker, and I think getting Phil Dawson re-signed is a huge deal.
Dawson has been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL in recent seasons, and was solid for the 49ers last year. He converted on 32 of 36 field goal attempts (88.9 percent), with six made from 50-plus yards, including a career-high of 56 yards. It was one of Dawson's best seasons yet. Bringing him back was key.
Of course, the biggest issue 49ers fans will have with this move is simple: Dawson is nearing the end of his career, and keeping a kicker one year too long can be disastrous ... as we saw with David Akers. He came in and had the best year of his career, and then hit a wall the next time out. He was awful, one of the worst in the NFL that season. It hurt the 49ers big time.
Dawson accounted for 140 points last season, though. We can't just assume that a kicker is going to hit a wall next season, and we can't assume that we can just find a replacement just as easily. Before Joe Nedney, Akers' good season and Dawson last year, who was the last great kicker the 49ers had? I would consider Dawson great, and he was absolutely worth being re-signed.
I don't know just how much time Dawson has left at this point, but he's going to score more points than Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin this season. He's going to make more attempts at scoring points and he's going to be a defensive weapon on kickoffs. That makes him worth every penny paid to him and it's a huge deal that he was re-signed so early in the process. It was honestly one of my biggest concerns.
Now about those cornerbacks ...