Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
The San Francisco 49ers haven't gone with a young kicker in what feels like ages. Joe Nedney was Mr. Reliable for many years, and the 49ers looked to win the lottery with the David Akers signing, at least initially. Unfortunately, Akers had a decidedly poor 2012 season, connecting on just 69.0 percent of his attempts. Enter Phil Dawson.
When the 49ers brought in Dawson, many simply looked at his age and nothing else, and decided they didn't like the signing. In addition to that, plenty of people are looking at it now and worrying that the same thing will happen that happened with Akers -- a strong season followed by a mediocre one as he gets another year older.
But at 39 years old, Dawson looks as solid as ever and really, I have more confidence in him than I ever did in Akers. Dawson had one of his better seasons in 2013 -- and keep in mind he's been in the league since 1999, when he connected on just 66.7 percent of his field goal attempts.
Last season, Dawson went 32 for 36, good for 88.9 percent conversion rate on his field goal attempts. He made six field goals of 50-plus yards and his a career long of 56 at one point. Seventeen of his successful field goals were over 40 yards. He finished ninth in the league in field goals made, and 14th in field goal percentage, with the caveat that kickers as a whole were pretty darn solid last season.
Why he might improve:
Dawson has posted a higher field goal percentage three times in his career. One of those times was 2012, his last season with the Cleveland Browns, in which he posted a stellar 93.5 percentage. There's no reason to suspect he can't do that again. At his age, the odds aren't in favor of him posting a career-best year, but he's defied the odds before.
Why he might regress:
He'll turn 40 just before the playoffs start next season. It's all about age at this point, isn't it? There's nothing about the scheme or anything like that which could force him to regress -- we're talking about percentages, not actual number of field goals made. So yeah, he could hit that wall theoretically. But again, he's defied the odds and I see no reason why he can't.
Odds of making the roster:
Unless one of the camp bodies floating around ends up being able to reliably nail 60-yard field goals against the wind, Dawson is here to stay. He'll make the roster and he'll be virtually unchallenged going forward.