San Francisco 49ers

Phil Dawson: Even misses are valuable at new stadium

SANTA CLARA -- Phil Dawson said field-goal kicking boils down to two things: aim and execution. He was a little bit off in both categories in his Levi's Stadium debut Sunday, missing from 55 yards looking north and from 44 yards heading south.

“Kicked pretty solidly in pregame, felt like I had a pretty solid plan for what to do – the flags and the whole game – and then I get to the game expecting everything to go right to left,” Dawson said. “ I aimed a little right and it went right. So, note to self...”

Dawson, 39, noted that he also missed one of his initial pregame kicks at Candlestick Park last year after joining the 49ers as a free agent. The difference is that his holder, Andy Lee, had nine years of experience at Candlestick. Both he and Lee and trying to figure out the new stadium on the fly.

The winds in Santa Clara typically come out of the north and are able to enter the stadium through a notch on the northwest side. What's somewhat frustrating, Dawson said, is that they don't start up until the afternoon, which means any warm-up kicks taken in the 11 a.m. hour are going to be useless after 1 p.m.

Still, he said even the misses will help him figure out his plan of attack. “Any ball that's in the air is helpful – getting to watch it, figure it out. Obviously, I have a long way to go figuring out where to aim. That's what the preseason is for.”

As for the grass, Dawson said it was in very good shape for such a young field. (The sod was put down in April). But like his teammates, he noted that it did come up in patches, which is common in NFL stadiums, including in Cleveland where he spent his first 14 seasons.

“It only took me 10 years to get comfortable in Cleveland,” he said. “We'll see how long it takes me here.”

Dawson said he planned to kick in Levi's Stadium today while the rest of the 49ers are on the practice field behind team headquarters.