SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers special teams received both praise and an overhaul on Wednesday as one veteran booted his way into weekly honors while another was simply given the boot.
After converting 5-of-5 field goal attempts in last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, including a pair from both 52 and 55-yards out, kicker Phil Dawson was awarded with the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Dawson accounted for 16 of the 49ers 22 points during last Sunday’s contest, providing the scoring edge that the 49ers needed to secure their second straight victory.
While his accolade may have come from the 49ers inability to capitalize on red zone opportunities, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was thankful to have the reliable veteran to cap off the stalled drives with at least three points:
“There’s no expiration date on Mr. Phil Dawson. Put him in some real tough situations kicking the 50-yard plus’ers, and he just stepped up and knocked them down. … If he doesn’t make those it changes the game, changes the field position. And he stood up there and knocked them down like a Hall of Famer.”
Dawson has overcome issues with the newly sodded Levi’s Stadium field during preseason to convert a perfect 11-of-11 attempts at home during the venues inaugural regular season. He also leads the NFL with a total of three field goals made from over 50-yards this season, striking from 51, 52 and 55 yards thus far.
The 16-year veteran has been a model of consistency for the 49ers since the team acquired him during the 2013 season. Last year, Dawson set a new team record by converting 27 straight field goals throughout the season.
The signing may have been lost among the flair of other free-agency pickups, though the two-time Pro Bowler gives the 49ers an added level of reassurance when Harbaugh is forced to roll out the field goal unit. Dawson said:
“I believe when I signed with the 49ers I said I bring an intensity to my position that isn’t often associated with it. I take my job seriously, work extremely hard at it. Been told my whole career I work too hard, you’re gonna wear yourself out, kick too much, gonna lose your leg, and maybe they’re right, I don’t know.”
Even with Dawson’s excellent showing, and temperatures reaching into the 90s during game time, not everything was sunny for 49ers special teamers.
After surrendering yet another big play during punt return coverage — this time to Kansas City’s De’Anthony Thomas, whose 28-yard return would eventually set up a Chiefs touchdown — the 49ers waived one of their most experienced contributors, WR Kassim Osgood.
Taking Osgood’s place on the roster is another man who is no stranger to work on the 49ers special teams, safety Bubba Ventrone. The move marks the third time this season that Osgood has been cut from the 49ers roster. The 12-year veteran had just two tackles and four knockdowns on the year.
Ventrone was released from the team on August 30 during the first wave of cuts to the 53-man roster. His return to the 49ers special teams makes him the third rostered safety to participate on the unit, alongside Eric Reid and Craig Dahl.