When 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely asked Phil Dawson how he felt before a potential game-winning kick Sunday afternoon, the kicker was sure of at least one thing.
"Well," Dawson told Seely on the sideline, "I'll at least get it there."
Not long after his first errant field goal attempt in 28 tries, San Francisco's specialist kicked a 40-yarder with plenty of hang time to spare to push his team past the Arizona Cardinals, 23-20, and into the postseason with a sixth straight win.
"Fortunately," Dawson said postgame of his promise to Seely, "that proved to be true."
Dawson connected from 27 yards out on the 49ers opening drive before missing from 24 on their second. The hooking try snapped Dawson's franchise record at 27 straight successful attempts.
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Of his first miss since Week 4 at St. Louis, when he failed to connect from 53 and, welp, 73, Dawson made no excuses.
"Just poor execution on my part," he said. "Can't take anything for granted. That's why the two most hated words in football for me are chip shots, and I'm just glad it came down to the end and I could make one."
Before the final-second boot, Dawson also connected from 56 yards out – a season-high – to tie the score at 20 with 1:45 showing on the scoreboard clock.
Dawson, who finished his first regular season with the 49ers 32-for-36 on three-point tries and (42-for-42 on extra points), stopped watching his third make of the game – the all-important win-clincher – before it split the uprights, flying high over the cross-bar.
He knew it was true. It didn't matter how far it was struck.
The kicking conditions won't be as formidable at Green Bay, where San Francisco opens the playoffs next week, but Dawson has that covered too.
He spent the first 14 seasons of his career in Cleveland.
All told in season No. 1 in San Francisco, Dawson finished with the second most points (140) and field goals (32) in franchise history.