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Phil Dawson Learning Levi’s® Stadium, NFL Roster Expansion and Merton Hanks’ ‘Funky Chicken’

Posted Aug 20, 2014

In this edition of Niners Daily, we check in on some hot topics, including how the San Francisco 49ers kicker is adjusting to the team's new home.

In this edition of Niners Daily, we address a kicker’s concerns, a league’s new and not-to-new rules, plus look into the San Francisco 49ers vault.

Learning Levi's®

The first football game at Levi’s® Stadium was unknown territory for players, coaches and fans alike.

So Phil Dawson was no exception. 

The kicker uncharacteristically missed both of his field-goal attempts in the 49ers 34-0 exhibition defeat to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Dawson said he is still very much learning Levi’s® Stadium.

“I had a good plan for what to do, and then I get into the game expecting everything to go right to left,” said Dawson, who was wide right from both 55 yards and 44 yards before halftime. “I aimed a little right and it went right. So you can’t aim right and have it go right.

“Note to self, and I’ll be back in there (practicing Tuesday) trying to gather more information.”

That represented the 15-season veteran’s fifth time kicking in the team’s new home. A sixth is slated to take place Wednesday evening, as the 49ers practice before fans at Levi’s® Stadium.

“It only took me 10 years to get comfortable in Cleveland,” joked Dawson, who was 32-of-36 on field-goal tries in his first season in San Francisco last season. “Honestly, I don’t know that I’m going to have (Levi’s® Stadium) figured out anytime soon. The best you can do on those gamedays is show up and figure out a way to get ‘em through.

“A lot of information was gathered Sunday in a positive way. I would have enjoyed to learn differently, but I’ll take whatever I can get in there.” 

More Roster Room

Jim Harbaugh calls it the “opportunity squad.”

Some 49ers opportunities just grew.

This is because the NFL and its players association have agreed to allow each club to add two members to its practice squad, which goes from eight members to 10.

Here are the new rules in league-speak:

“First, a player must have a minimum of six games – up from the current three games – on a practice squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of practice squad service.

“Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two practice squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a practice squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.”

Interestingly, the league and its players will revert to an eight-man practice squad for the 2016 season if the two sides don’t agree to extend their new agreement beyond ’15.

Some 49ers who spent time on the 2013 squad and are now looking to graduate full-time to the 53-man, Opening Day roster: wideout Devon Wylie, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, tight end Derek Carrier, offensive tackle Carter Bykowski, running back Jewel Hampton, cornerback Darryl Morris and nose tackle Mike Purcell.

The NFL and Fines Explained

The Vault

Merton Hanks played safety for the 49ers from 1991 to ’98, becoming known for strong play – and his “Funky Chicken” dance. For more photos of team alumni, check out our photo collection.