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49ers Camp Preview: Specialists

Posted Jul 19, 2013

San Francisco’s standout specialists come into focus to close out our “49ers Camp Preview” series.



The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers will open training camp at the end of the month. But before the pads come on and the competition for 53 coveted roster spots begin, 49ers.com will preview the storylines to track for each position group on the team. San Francisco’s standout specialists come into focus to close out our “49ers Camp Preview” series.

OVERVIEW

The 49ers added to an established group of specialists with the signing of Phil Dawson, a respected 15-year veteran kicker who made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2012. Furthermore, Dawson comes to the 49ers as one of the most consistent kickers in NFL history. Dawson has the highest all-time field goal percentage among kickers with 300-plus attempts in league history with an 84-percent conversion rate. Dawson made 29 of 31 kicks for the Cleveland Browns last season and is poised to continue his consistent play at the age of 38.

[ PHOTOS - 49ERS CAMP PREVIEW: SPECIALISTS ]


Dawson signed with the 49ers to be reunited with his former special teams coordinator, Brad Seely. The opportunity to once again work with one of the most respected coaches in the league was too good to pass up. Plus, Dawson joins the standout tandem of punter Andy Lee and long snapper Brian Jennings, two specialists who’ve worked together now going on a decade.

Lee is coming off an All-Pro season in 2012, a year where he averaged 48.1 yards per punt and 36 punts inside the 20-yard line. The former sixth-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft is approaching a unique milestone in club history – Lee is set to join the team’s 10-Year Wall. At the conclusion of the season, Lee will be recognized for his decade-long tenure with the 49ers along several franchise greats, including Jennings, his long snapper.

DEPTH

RETURNERS: Brian Jennings (14th season) and Andy Lee (10th season). NEWCOMERS: Phil Dawson (15th season, free agent), Kevin McDermott (undrafted, UCLA), and Colton Schmidt (undrafted, UC-Davis).

Lee will face no challengers in training camp. Being a three-time Pro Bowler makes it an easy choice. However, Jennings will face competition from McDermott, an undrafted rookie free agent  who was praised this offseason by head coach Jim Harbaugh as one of the best long snappers available in this year’s crop of rookies. Schmidt recently signed with the 49ers to provide more kicking depth for Lee and Dawson during practice and preseason games. Plus, Schmidt has the ability to be a kick-off specialist should the 49ers elect to use a roster spot on that role.

STANDOUT STAT

70.6

Dawson ranks third in NFL history, making 70.6 percent of his field attempts from 50-plus yards (24 of 34).

QUOTABLE

“I’m trying to kick all over the place to get a general understanding of what the ball does in there. It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to have a better understanding of what it’s like in there on gameday, but in terms of knowing sight lines, certain scoreboards – where to aim – I’m getting used to that kind of thing.”

-Dawson on practicing at Candlestick Park this offseason.

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