SANTA CLARA – While Phil Dawson might not have the same strength in his right leg after 17 NFL seasons, he believes he is still capable of handling kickoff chores.
Rookie punter Bradley Pinion took over those duties from the 49ers' kicker this season. Pinion ranked 11th in the league with touchbacks on 62.1 percent of his kickoffs. Dawson ranked 24th last season with touchbacks on 43.8 percent of his kicks.
Dawson, who turns 41 next month, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. He said he wants to continue to play next season and believes he can still be effective on kickoffs.
Special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Dawson benefitted from relinquishing those duties and focusing on field goals and extra points.
“I think that’s a very violent leg swing to repeat over and over and over again,” McGaughey said.
Dawson said he is not so sure his role reduction has helped him. Dawson made 20 of 23 field-goal attempts in the first 15 games, along with 19 of 20 extra-point attempts.
"That’ll be one of the things I look at this offseason,” Dawson said. “I evaluate every season, try to figure out what went well, what didn’t go well, what can I improve on. I’ll try to figure out the impact that had.
“I miss doing it (kicking off). I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of the game, and I still feel like I can do it. But Bradley has done a tremendous job, and he’s helped the team. So (there’s) no problem here on that front.”
Dawson said he still has passion for his craft, but he’ll involve his family in any decision for next season. Dawson’s wife, Shannon, and his three children live in Austin, Texas, during the season.
Dawson said he has yet to speak to the 49ers about his desire to re-sign with the club for a fourth season. He figures that talk will take place at some point after the 49ers’ season finale Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
“When the proper time and place comes, I’ll definitely communicate how I feel about this place and how grateful I am to have been here for three seasons,” Dawson said. “But the time is not now for those conversations.”