Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
We can't say that San Francisco 49ers kicker Phil Dawson gets better with age per se, but we can definitely say there's been no significant regression for him, despite the fact that he's the second-oldest player in the NFL, at least among those signed to a team.
He's a couple years younger than Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, and just seven years younger than his head coach, Jim Tomsula. Obviously, age isn't a huge deal for kickers but Dawson has largely avoided the significant struggles that usually plague players at his position at least once or twice in their later years.
Dawson has been with the team for the past two seasons, after spending the first 14 seasons of his career with the Cleveland Browns. His final season with the Browns was actually his best year yet, converting on 93.5 percent of his field goals, including seven of seven from 50-plus yards. He was bound to regress somewhat given that was his best year ever, but he's been solid for the 49ers.
Dawson converted 88.9 percent of his attempts in 2013 and 80.6 of his attempts in 2014, though that includes seven attempts of 40-plus yards and nine attempts of 50-plus yards. You can say he regressed last season but the offense as a whole was particularly poor and they didn't give him a whole lot to work with.
There's really not an awful lot to say about Dawson's performance. He has been, at times, the sole player putting points on the board for the 49ers. He's effective, he's dependable, and he's also really, really, really old. He's the kicker going forward though I wonder how many years he's got left in him.
Why he might improve:
Dawson's field goal percentage was the lowest its been since the 2006 season, so there's definite room for improvement. I think the 49ers will field a better offense next season, and while that means less need for field goals due to increased touchdowns, they'll simply be in position for them a lot more, at least that's what the starved optimist inside of me is saying. Improvement is neither unlikely nor likely at this point.
Why he might regress:
Again, he's old and is coming off his worst season in a long time. Things getting worse from here wouldn't be surprising. There's also the chance that the 49ers simply don't need to kick that many field goals, though that's probably just wishful thinking on my part. Of course, it's also worth noting that punter Bradley Pinion could wind up winning the starting job from Andy Lee, and he could wind up taking kickoffs or even very long field goals, which probably counts as "regression."
Odds of making the roster:
Dawson is in no danger at this stage of the game. That may change next season, but for now I'm going to go with the dependable "aliens" route. He's with the 49ers unless there's some sort of interference from behind our planet, calling it now. We might see Lee ousted if Pinion proves to be the real deal, but this is not the offseason in which the 49ers move on from Dawson.