The San Francisco 49ers will bring back veteran kicker Phil Dawson for his fourth training camp with the team, and his 18th in the NFL. The 41-year old kicker had a very strong season in 2015, and shows no signs of slowing down.
One thing that will change is his number. Dawson will wear No. 4 after spending three seasons in No. 9. Former punter Andy Lee wore No. 4 for his 11 seasons with the team, before he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Dawson wore No. 4 in college and with the Browns. He decided to switch back this year, and actually waited a year to make the change out of respect to Lee. Dawson told the 49ers Radio podcast that he did not want to jump on the number as soon as Lee left, but give it a year to honor Lee. As an Andy Lee fan, I’m certainly down with that!
Dawson signed a one-year deal with the 49ers worth $3,134,000. It is the same base salary he earned a year ago, but this time it is fully guaranteed. If the 49ers elect to cut him and go with UDFA John Lunsford, Dawson would still receive his full salary. That likely made it fairly easy to get a deal done. Dawson said the day after the 2015 season ended, he was talking to Trent Baalke, and the 49ers general manager asked him if he wanted to be back with the 49ers in 2016. Dawson said yes, but it sounds like they waited for free agency to start before re-connecting to close the deal. They got a deal done, and Dawson is back. It is possible Lunsford could amaze folks and steal the job, but odds are pretty good Dawson will be kicking for the 49ers the entire 2016 season. What happens in 2017 remains to be seen.