As a veteran kicker entering his 15th season in the National Football League and first year with the San Francisco 49ers, Phil Dawson wants to be prepared for everything that comes his way.
The 2012 Pro Bowl kicker is consistently detailed in his offseason work. So much so, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound kicker who connected on 29-of-31 field goals for the Cleveland Browns last season, is already practicing at his new stadium.
Dawson has held a few workouts at Candlestick Park this offseason with the intention of learning the ins and outs of San Francisco's home stadium.
"I'm trying to kick all over the place to get a general understanding of what the ball does in there," the two-time All-Pro told 49ers.com. "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 has been a regular attendee in the 49ers offseason program and has done extra work to get himself ready for his debut in Candlestick's well-known windy conditions.
The early familiarity has been a positive development for one of the game's most accurate kickers. Dawson ranks ninth all-time in field goal conversions, connecting on 84 percent of his field goals (305 out of 365).
Dedication to kicking, even in late May, is one of the biggest reasons why the 49ers signed Dawson to a one-year contract in mid-March.
The 49ers were pleased to add an accomplished kicker to the team like Dawson and his work ethic has been a pleasant development this offseason.
The trips to Candlestick speak to his hard-working ways.
"The more I can knock that out now, the better it's going to be when game time comes," Dawson shared.
Confidence at Candlestick is one thing, but Dawson has also established the cleats he'll need to wear on gameday and specific target lines for both sides of the field.
"Candlestick's a uniquely shaped stadium," the veteran kicker said. "There's not a whole lot behind the goal post to aim out, so I was trying to figure out if there's a scoreboard or a certain flag pole I could aim at back there.
"Things like that are helpful, and then just being there, getting used to the sounds, the smells, the overall feel of it all. The more you can be in there, the more prepared I feel."
Dawson, 38, feels ready to contribute to San Francisco's talented roster based on his early interactions with standout snapper Brian Jennings and his holder, Andy Lee.
When Dawson trotted out to convert kicks during recent OTA practices, Dawson still felt the nerves of having to perform in front of a new set of teammates.
The stress, however, went away after Dawson drilled several field goals in front of the team.
"I tell you what, getting out in front of the team for the first time, it gets you a little nervous," Dawson said. "But when you have guys like Brian and Andy working with you, it really calms you down."
Dawson said his experience in San Francisco has been positive so far and being reunited with special teams coordinator Brad Seely has made it even more enoyable.
The new 49ers kicker also recognizes a teaching tactic Seely installed during their time together with the Browns. When Dawson attempts kicks at 49ers practices, he's doing so through a field goal half the size of normal uprights.
"I think it's a good thing," Dawson said. "It helps you zero in on a specific target rather than try to kick it somewhere between the posts. It's definitely a challenge, but definitely fun."
From trips to Candlestick to the miniature uprights he's been aiming at this offseason, Dawson has made the most of the time he's spent with the 49ers this offseason.
"It's all been good and I feel really good about the work I've been able to get done," Dawson said.