Dawson’s consistent performances as the Cleveland Browns all-time leader in field goals and field goal percentage made him an attractive free agent addition to the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers signed Dawson, a two-time All-Pro, to a one-year contract on Tuesday. The veteran kicker announced the agreement via his personal Twitter account.
Dawson’s signing continues to highlight an offseason trend for San Francisco: Improve special teams play across the board.
Four of the team’s most recent free agent signings (
“We are excited to add an accomplished veteran like Phil to our team,” 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said in a statement released by the team. “Phil has performed at a high level throughout his career and has a lot of experience managing the elements.”
Dawson has played in 215 games and has scored 1,265 points, connecting on 305 of 365 field goal attempts (84.0 percent) and 350 of 358 PATs. The 14-year veteran’s 84.0 field goal percentage ranks ninth in league history, too.
Even more impressive, Dawson is coming off a 2012 season where he connected on 29 of 31 field goal attempts and converted all 29 PATs.
Dawson enjoyed his time in Cleveland, but is eager to begin a new chapter in San Francisco.
“There’s going to be a time when I get to reminisce, reflect and remember,” Dawson said of the team he’s been with since 1999. “But honestly, with all due respect to my time in Cleveland, I’m so excited about what’s to happen, my full focus is on the future.
“I’m a 49er now. I’m ready to get to know the guys on this team, earn their trust and respect.”
Dawson already has the respect of 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely and his assistant Tracy Smith. The trio worked together in Cleveland back in 2010 and look forward to being on the same team again in 2013.
“I have the utmost respect for Coach Seely,” Dawson said. “You look at the special teams units he’s been able to put on the field, that’s elite company. As a player you want to be with the best and that starts with the coach.
“To get the opportunity to come back and be with him again... I couldn’t be more excited. He was definitely a big part of me coming here.”
Dawson also enjoyed Seely’s “dry sense of humor.”
Dawson has not only proved to be a reliable kicker, he’s accurate. Since 2011, the 38-year-old kicker has made 14 of 15 field goal attempts from 50-plus yards.
“I think the key to what I do is finding a target and not thinking of how far it is,” Dawson explained of his effective kicking technique. “If you can get in a good groove where all you’re worried about is hitting a target, you’re going to have some success.”
Still, Dawson understands the challenge of kicking in windy conditions. That’s why he’s eager to practice at Candlestick Park immediately, a stadium known for its swirling winds.
But before Dawson can get to work in his new stadium, he’ll do his best to get to know his new teammates. Among the first items to handle on his to-do list, Dawson will reach out to the team’s punter and long snapper,
Dawson will also get to know his new teammates, especially the ones who will be covering his kicks.
“I love the energy,” Dawson said of the team’s popular coverage units. “I love the enthusiasm and you have to be that way when you’re covering kicks.”
The changes in Dawson’s career all feel positive to the veteran. The only difference besides location will be the uniform number. Lee currently wears No. 4 and will keep his number.
“I’m moving on, so it’s time to change my number,” Dawson said. “It’s probably going to be a single digit of some sort. We’ll figure it out. It’ll be a family decision and we’ll be proud no matter what it is.”